A dying tradition
May 16, 2014-
A few weeks ago, I accompanied 10 journalists from different media houses to capture the experiences of the honey hunters of Lamjung. We were attending the Second Honey Hunting Festival, which was being sponsored by Debindra Babu Tiwari, the owner of Mango Tree Resort, Lamjung. The main purpose of the festival was to promote local tourism and to document the impact of global warming on the area.
It takes much courage to be a honey-hunter: one has to be surefooted, unafraid of heights and not worry too much about being stung. After the hunters have gathered the honey, they pool together their harvest and it’s distributed among all the villagers, and the remainder sold. The wild honey, which is used as a condiment as well as medicine, goes for around Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 per mana.
When we got to Lamjung, our group of reporters and photojournalists first gathered at Chinchowk VDC, where we were given a warm welcome by the villagers. We then followed the honey hunters all the way to the Koyapro cliffs, where the honeycombs were lodged in its various crevices and along its crags and outcrops. The honeyhunters climbed their rope ladders and did find a large honeycomb pretty soon. When the hunters descended, we eagerly cracked open the comb. But it was dry. We’d been warned that because of climate change and because the bees were nowadays feeding on the nectar of flowers that had been grown using chemical fertilisers, the wild honeybees were not producing enough of the sweet stuff. But I’d never thought that for all the dangers the honey hunters had to battle in order to get to the combs, they’d return empty-handed. It’s no wonder that the profession is a dying one.
TEXT & PHOTOs: Prakash Timilsena
Published: 17-05-2014 09:47