Kalahari Desert Research Paper

The Ju/’hoansi-!Kung of the Kalahari Desert

Until about 10,000 years ago, everyone in the world subsisted by hunting and gathering wild foods. According to Richard Borshay Lee, hunter-gatherers used their knowledge of the land that surrounded them to exercise their variety of strategies of foraging for food, and their life necessities. Over the next thousand years, agriculture has replaced foraging as the main subsistence practice, but some hunter-gatherers lived on in isolated areas of the world. Richard Lee and Megan Biesele conducted a study in the early 1960s to describe the important features of one of the last standing foraging groups, known as the Ju/’hoansi-!Kung residing in the Kalahari Desert (Lee 109). Please reference figure 1
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For example, the land surrounding the Dobe Camp contains eighty-five species of food vegetables from which only twenty-three species are mainly used in 90 percent of the !Kung diet. In addition, there are two hundred and twenty-three species of animals from which the !Kung only utilizes 17 out of the 54 edible animal species that were hunted and consumed (Lee 114). Lee postulated that “if the Bushmen were living close to the ‘starvation’ level, then one would expect them to exploit every available source of nutrition (Lee 114).” However, this is not the case for the !Kung because they are selective of what they eat, which according to Lee, challenges the first notion that “hunter-gatherers heavily depend on hunting for game animals (Lee 110).” Lee states that the probability of any hunter doing a kill on any given day is 0.23, on the other hand, the probability of a woman finding plant food is 1.00 (Lee 121). For that reason, the !Kung people primarily eat plant foods and only indulge in game animals as a treat when and if it’s available on a given day (Lee

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