Hunters and Predators - Part 2

Obtaining energy is a basic and fundamental process for the survival of a living being and therefore, from the beginning of life on earth homo sapiens had to develop as a hunter and animals as great predators.

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On the Plains of Venezuela, over twenty species of birds fish in the same place, and they are all visibly different. It would seem impossible for any fish to survive such a constant onslaught, but they do, and there is food enough for everyone. The secret consists of using different methods. The scissorbill cuts the surface of the water with its lower jaw which, unlike most birds, is longer. 

It has to avoid the obstacles and the alligators, but the system works. 

On the other side of the world, in the Celebes islands, we find a good example of the inventiveness of man in compensating for his lack of wings and a beak. 

They are fishing with kites, an ancient method to which recently has been added the advantage of outboard motor boats, but essentially has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. 

The kite rises and the direction of the fishing line changes, warning the fisher of the precise moment when he must haul it in as fast as possible. But there are other human populations who, though they live far from the sea, also eat fish. 

On the Guyana massif, in the south of Venezuela, live ancient ethnic groups who have inhabited the Amazon forest for over 3,000 years. The Sanema, the Yecuanas or Makiritare know that this particular liana contains a very special substance. They call them barbasco, and after cutting them, they carefully crush them to extract the sap. 

The curious thing about this technique is that, over a thousand kilometres away, the Huaoranis in Ecuador use it in exactly the same way.

They are two completely different ethnic groups, but they have in common a profound knowledge of the jungle in which they live. Here, their diet lacks mineral salts, and so these two people, essentially hunters, are very glad of the occasional chance to eat fish. 

In the Mekong delta, in Vietnam, this family is heading home, to their house built on the river itself. 

They do not have to go fishing, they literally live with the fish. Their houses are fish farms, in which the carpet in the living room is in fact a trap door giving access to energy. The entire family participates in looking after and feeding the fish imprisoned beneath their home. 

Human beings have become so efficient that they have managed to move, whether wisely or not, from subsistence ecology to the market economy. 

In any case, the ultimate aim of all processes has not changed in the slightest. It is a question of eating the body of another animal in such a way that the effort is worth it, that the final energy balance is positive.

Fishing implies in some way managing to get the fish out of the water. But when the struggle takes place on land, the problem is very different. 

The hunter and the prey share the same surroundings, breathe the same air. The interchange of energy is face to face. A challenge which natural selection has resolved by creating real killing machines. 

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