maandag 16 april 2012

Outrunning a bull Kalahari style

"Persistence Hunting by Modern Hunter-Gatherers" is a paper that deals with the outrunning of game, an ancient practise today only known to be used by Kalahari hunters. The paper does a great job describing the problems of persistence hunting, goes on to detail the environmental knowledge involved in a hunt before again moving on explain how all this is related to human energy consumption patterns. All that and more in nine pages. 
An average speed of 6.3 km/hr may not seem very fast, but the challenge to the hunter is not so much the speed as the difficult conditions that need to be overcome, including extreme heat, soft sand, and sometimes thick bush. The hunter may be slowed down when he loses the trail. The most difficult task for the tiring hunter is keeping on the right track when the animal joins the rest of the herd again, since its tracks must be distinguished from those of the other animals. When the animal is still running strongly, this can be very difficult, but when it starts to show signs of tiring it becomes easier to distinguish its tracks. Another difficulty is that the animal may circle back onto its own tracks and the hunter must decide which set of tracks to follow. The hunter does not always run on the tracks but often leaves the trail in order to pick it up ahead, and a number of times the hunter lost time following the wrong trail and then going back to find the right one. The trail may also be lost when herds of other antelope species cross the tracks. Losing the tracks was the main reason the hunters gave up in unsuccessful attempts. [The f]igure  plots the route of Karoha running down a kudu bull in October 2001, showing the kudu crossing back over its own tracks a number of times and joining other groups of kudu bulls.
When running down a herd of kudu, trackers say that they look to either side of the trail to see if one of the animals has broken away from the rest of the herd and then follow that animal. The weakest animal usually breaks away from the herd to hide in the bush when it starts to tire, while the others continue to flee. Since a predator will probably follow the scent of the herd, the stronger animals have a better chance of outrunning it, while the weaker animal has a chance to escape unnoticed.

1 opmerking:

  1. Stategic endurance is Fascinating. Great article! Love the "be the animal strategy" Evo/devo thefacts/details are great pedantic story fillers too.
    I'd like to say that I'm turned off by the concept of armchair, passive spectator games or races; however I must admit, I'm seduced into watching when commentators speculate on endurance/survival stategies (e.g. running, biking, body mechanics, will power focus/flow sand group or individual strategies/dynamics i.e. pits stops, peleoton.... I do like the Armchair Anthropology of endurance survival.