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  Field Notes From
Bushmen: Last Stand for Southern Africa’s First People

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View Field Notes
From Author

Peter Godwin

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Chris Johns

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Dave Hamman (top) and Chris Johns

image: stones
In the Land of the Bushmen

Field Notes From Photographer
Chris Johns
Tracking lions in South Africa with Buks Kruiper was a thrilling experience. We were in an area so remote that it was highly probable some of these lions had never seen humans before. It was so neat to watch him work. He never wanted to get off a lion’s track. He had incredible stamina and wouldn’t quit until he found the lion. Sometimes it took only hours, other times it was days. He was so proud of his tracking. It was great to see how skillful and passionate he was about his work. My Bushman friend Klaus Kruiper—who was reputed to be the finest tracker in all of southern Africa—was murdered while I was on assignment. He was a wonderful guy and a great father. His death was a terrible loss and an example of the sad plight of the Bushmen. They live in such a violent world. My assistant, Dave Hamman, and I were out with some Bushmen in Namibia while they were gathering grubs. After digging about three feet (one meter) in the sand, they pulled out these very small grubs. Then the next day around a fire they began making poison arrows from a concoction of crushed grub pupae and liquid from acacia leaves.
A few days later we joined them again as they went out hunting with the poisoned arrows. Dave and I were pretty skeptical about how lethal these arrows really were, but with only five of the arrows they killed a huge male giraffe. It died in about 45 minutes. I was amazed at the skill they possessed in stalking such a difficult prey.

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