People of the Rainforest

Heres a program from our archives.THE BAKABaka musicWe’re listening to music of the Baka people, who live in Cameroon in Central Africa. Like many indigenous peoples, the Baka have a broad knowledge of the plants and animals of their environment. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Agland: One of the plants that the Baka use for stunning and killing fish is called, ‘mongombo’. It contains chemicals called rotenones. [and] To extract these, they have to beat the bark of the vine into a pulp, and then literally rinse it into the water. [and] The effect that that has on the fish is, really, gumming-up the gills so the fish, in effect, are unable to breathe and they float to the surface. At which point, the Baka are able to collect them.”Phil Agland is a filmmaker who lived with the Baka, while making a documentary about them.Agland: This doesn’t pollute the river. It has an impact on the fish population of course, and it will be several years before the fish population will reach the normal optimum level in this river. But it won’t pollute. It’s a chemical that washes away quickly. [and] In fact the fish that are killed are not poisoned. They are edible immediately.”Ambience, Fishing Agland: Usually the Baka will only exploit one stretch of river and will not go back to that. [and] They hunt and fish over a very wide area, maybe 25 by 30 miles. So they often will only come back to the stretch of river, maybe 5, 10 years later.They don’t overfish, simply because they themselves are low in population. They are in harmony with the forest in as much that the forest can cope with small bands of people exploiting its ecology. So therefore, the holding capacity of this area of the forest is probably several hundred people over an area of two or three hundred square miles.”This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.

People of the Rainforest

The Baka use their knowledge of plants to help them catch fish.
Air Date:09/26/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Heres a program from our archives.THE BAKABaka musicWe're listening to music of the Baka people, who live in Cameroon in Central Africa. Like many indigenous peoples, the Baka have a broad knowledge of the plants and animals of their environment. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Agland: One of the plants that the Baka use for stunning and killing fish is called, 'mongombo'. It contains chemicals called rotenones. [and] To extract these, they have to beat the bark of the vine into a pulp, and then literally rinse it into the water. [and] The effect that that has on the fish is, really, gumming-up the gills so the fish, in effect, are unable to breathe and they float to the surface. At which point, the Baka are able to collect them."Phil Agland is a filmmaker who lived with the Baka, while making a documentary about them.Agland: This doesn't pollute the river. It has an impact on the fish population of course, and it will be several years before the fish population will reach the normal optimum level in this river. But it won't pollute. It's a chemical that washes away quickly. [and] In fact the fish that are killed are not poisoned. They are edible immediately."Ambience, Fishing Agland: Usually the Baka will only exploit one stretch of river and will not go back to that. [and] They hunt and fish over a very wide area, maybe 25 by 30 miles. So they often will only come back to the stretch of river, maybe 5, 10 years later.They don't overfish, simply because they themselves are low in population. They are in harmony with the forest in as much that the forest can cope with small bands of people exploiting its ecology. So therefore, the holding capacity of this area of the forest is probably several hundred people over an area of two or three hundred square miles."This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.