Biomimicry Among Huaorani Indians

To gauge how biomimicry will affect humans, we can turn to the Huaorani Indians. Huaorani Indians have been utilizing biomimicry to benefit themselves as well as nature for centuries (Benyus 3). A Huaorani population in Ecuador was located right on top of a rich oil reserve. Rather than utilizing this economically profitable resource, the Huaoroni people protected the land that the oil was under and used biomimicry practices to sustain themselves. The Huaorani people rely almost entirely on hunting and gathering to survive, but rather than using modern weapons to kill their prey, the Huaorani people utilize the rainforest. To kill their prey, poison dart guns are used. The poison for these guns is created using some substance from the Strychnos toxifera plant. According to Judith Kimerling in her book, Amazon Crude, the Huaorani people created a substance that mimics the poison found in Strychnos toxifera plants, creating a poisonous concoction called, “curare”. The Huaorani people knew to use this substance by observing the paralyzing effects of this plant on animals in the rainforests of Ecuador (Kimerling 91). This use of biomimicry has allowed the Huaorani people to be self-sufficient even today, as they shun connection with the modern world. While their population has drastically decreased in the past 30 years, Kimerling associates that decrease not with the sustainability of their biomimicry practices, but with the “enforced ethnocide” done by oil companies to the Huaoroni people when they were forceably removed from their land in order for these companies to access the oil reserves (Kimerling 87)

 

 A Huaorani man can be seen here using a dart covered in curare to hunt in the rainforest. 

A Huaorani: Using Real Blowgun with Poisoned Darts. Perf. Karue. Youtube.com, 2011.

 

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