Hunting wild animals in Africa is a tradition that goes back to our ancestors, for food and for sport, and hunting is still commonly practised across the continent. So, BattaBox went to find out how hunting is done in Nigeria.
“If we go out to hunt at midnight, then we see strange creatures,” says one of the hunters. “The strange animals come out only at midnight.
The hunt starts with a series of ancient traditions, including chanting, spraying alcohol, and giving an offering to appease the gods, as well as putting charms on your person and your weapons.
The hunt begins at the Coker Area Hunters Association in Ogun state, Nigeria – “They are going to kill a lion or elephant,” jokes BattaBox presenter Bolly as he eats his breakfast. “So you must eat first, in case they chase you!”
Unlike foreign hunters, who often come to Africa to hunt big game such as elephants, rhino, giraffe, and buffalo, much of the “big five” animals – most of which has already been hunted to extinction in West Africa – local African hunters now focus on small game. And they don’t hunt for trophies, but for food and sport.
The wild animals that hunters commonly kill in Nigeria include antelope, grass cutter, gazelle, duikers, rabbits and snakes. The hunters take their machetes and rifles and go into the deep bush in the countryside of Nigeria where the hunters give the offering of a male cockerel, kola nuts, and alcohol to the gods with the chant:
“Push the animals our way today, so we may kill bush meat. So shall it be,” says the hunter with the gun slung over his shoulder.
Dogs are also an essential companion for any hunter, and before they enter the bush, special charms are put in the dog’s eyes so it may see and smell the wild animals better in the deep bush. The guns include all variety of rifles and shotguns. And when in the bush, the hunters call to each other with cries and shouts, while hacking at the bush with machetes to drive the animals towards the hunters.
And today’s hunt is successful – as a dog (called James) kills a duiker which is put into a bag; and then a large Grass Cutter crosses the path of one hunter and is shot immediately; and in total four animals, including antelope and rabbit, are killed by the hunters.
And after the hunt, the hunters skin the animals, light a fire, and then roast the meat to eat and replenish their energy. A small prayer of thanks is offered to Ogun, and the hunters return to their homes.