As there are many ways to skin a cat, there are as many ways to kill a bird. Here is a short comparison of a few of the ways:
I often bike in the mornings to a
neighboring village to work with one of the farmers there. The
mornings are beautiful: the coolest part of the day, birds still have
energy to sing, as you bike the air is refreshing, people are
cheerful, and I am once again optimistic that today
will be successful. And then I pass overweight Frenchmen shooting
doves in Africa because they've got money to burn and testosterone to
spare. They come bounding up in their trucks, sparse hair blowing in
the wind as they hold their heads out the window and dream about
conquering adventures. They drive a few hundred meters off of the
road, forging ahead to new discoveries (of a modest farmer's corn
field). There they disembark, stalking their claim, getting a feel
for the lay of this foreign and harsh land. And then they shoot.
And shoot. And shoot and shoot and shoot. They don't bother to find
their trappings, they don't eat dirty relatives of the thinly muscled
pigeon, or even really bother to move. A few steps to the left a few
to the right. If you scare a flock of them into flight, there's no
need to scout out your prey. And as it rains dead birds, they feed
the masses. Young Senegalese boys run around collecting the carnage
for lunch. Look, they have fed the hungry with their hard work and
generous hearts! All hail the foreign hunter! He brings cado cado
cados! There is not much that will ruin a day faster than watching
people kill doves for no real reason, although I have to admit that
the stench of rotting cow that now lines that road is a close second.
Senegal does not have much. It does have beautiful birds. I wish
that people would not take that from us as well.
I do not paint that
picture to make you think that only foreigners come in and kill
Senegal's wildlife. Certainly Senegalese kill the animals around
themselves with little more purpose. The other evening I was sitting
and reading in my compound when about 30 Senegalese children come
running in, screaming. They are hot on the trail of something. It's
gone behind my grandmother's hut and they follow with sticks and
rocks and a purpose. I ask my mom what's going on and she says it's
a bad thing that kills people. She assures me that they'll catch and
kill it, so not to worry. When it's done and stoned I ask if I can
see what caused such uproar, and before they burn it, they consent to
let me see. A baby owl. I was unaware that owls killed people...
But some of the
ways animals are killed here are much more interesting and uplifting.
There is a bird here, the Franklin (wholo in Jaxanke), that is
shaped somewhat like a chicken and apparently has very tasty meat.
Unfortunately I have not had the chance to eat one yet, and I think
that is because my host brothers are still young. Franklin's are
killed only when the sun is at it's hottest, when they're tired and
slow. They sleep in the bush on the ground and although they can
fly, they usually go short distances from one clump of brush to
another. When a village wants to go Franklin hunting, they'll
organize a whole group of young men to go out together. Each man
will carry a stick and they'll wack the bushes with it to scare
anything out of them. If a Franklin flies out the race is on. The
men will chase the bird until one finally corners and catches it.
Not only are they catching dinner, it is like a game where teamwork
is required and the winners get the meat. It is a testament to human
strength. We can survive the heat and sun, work together, race a
bird, and catch it. I do not mind the killing of animals, but there
are different ways of going about it; this seems like one of the most
honorable ways possible.