The San are brilliant archers. The bows are relatively small, and therefore the range of an arrow tends to be below 25 metres. For this reason, the bushmen have to approach to within a short distance of their prey, a skill the nimble hunters are tremendous experts at. If an animal is hit by an arrow, it has no chance of escaping. The tips of the reed-shafted arrows are coated with an absolutely fatal poison, obtained from the larvae of a certain beetle. The poison is made using a recipe known only to the bushmen. Various plant ingredients are added in order to intensify the effect.
No one has found an antidote against the San's arrow poison yet. Humans also have no chance of survival, even when only insignificant amounts of poison enter the bloodstream.
Top: Old San hunting with bow and arrow. Left: Small settlement neas Tsumkwe in Bushmanland, northern part of Namibia.
The San, popularly known as "Bushmen", are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia. The friendly people still live a traditional life as hunters and gatherers. Whereas the women collect wildfruits, berries and wild onions rich in starch, the men pursue hunting.
The bushmen are known for their deep understanding of nature and its ecology. They are able to differentiate between hundreds of plant species and are regarded as excellent trackers. Unfortunately, only few young San follow their people's traditional way of life today.
It's mainly alcoholism that threatens the culture of the San people.