Gilles Nicolet

Training for the hunt, Tanzania

In order to be fit for the hunt, the Barabaig elephant hunters subject themselves to a harsh regimen of physical exercises. They run, practice throwing spears, fight with sticks and even stand on their heads to strengthen their necks.
A hunt may last for more than 8 consecutive days and nights, during which the hunters are strictly forbidden from eating. They may drink though, but only once a day and in very limited quantity, always under the supervision of a hunt leader called the “khematalugod”, or “mother of the hunt”. This leader usually bullies the younger men, giving them less water and administering harsh physical punishments whenever they show fear or misbehave. The unspoken purpose of all of this is of course to produce a class of exceptional warriors.

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