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Net hunters vs. archers: Variation in women's subsistence strategies in the Ituri Forest

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BaMbuti of the Ituri Forest, Zaire, employ two primary hunting techniques: net hunting, in which women routinely participate, and bow hunting, in which women rarely participate. We hypothesize that the value of women's labor devoted to different subsistence activities, combined with the exchange value of meat, will determine whether women participate in hunts. Field observations were conducted in four different areas: two exploited by archers and two by net hunters. Results indicate that women in nethunting areas earn more calories per unit time by hunting than by working in agriculturalists' gardens; whereas women in archer areas earn more calories by working for agriculturalists than by hunting. We found no significant difference in the composition or diversity of the forests exploited by net hunters and archers. The results are discussed in light of the longstanding debate concerning the factors that account for distribution of net hunting and archery in the Ituri Forest.

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Bailey, R.C., Aunger, R. Net hunters vs. archers: Variation in women's subsistence strategies in the Ituri Forest. Hum Ecol 17, 273–297 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00889020

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Key words

  • hunter-gatherers
  • BaMbuti
  • pygmies
  • archers
  • net hunters
  • subsistence strategies
  • women's subsistence
  • diffusion