Culture, Customs

A Traditional Form of Fishing in The Peruvian Jungle

From very ancient times the native tribes of the jungle used an ancestral method to be able to fish easily. This method was to look for gorges in the river with narrow exits. They would cose them with palm
leaves, stones, and sticks to prevent water escaping and forming pools to fish.

Then, they used a plant that grows only in the virgin forest called Barbasco that is obtained on the banks of waterfalls. This plant measures between 60 and 80 cm in height. Its green leaves are thick and quite juicy. The natives pick these plants and grind them on wooden rafts with a ballet in the form of a ball also made of wood with which they grind the leaves of this plant until it has a viscous texture with white foam.

When it is ready, they empty into smaller wooden containers and take it to the place where the pools are ready. There, they pour this viscous liquid in the 4 corners of the pool and quickly move it around it with sticks of bamboo until it mixes with the water. Then wait for half an hour until the fish rise to the surface belly first.

The natives say that the juice of the barbasco plant is a preparation that does not kill the fish but only numbs them as a powerful anesthetic effect them for only about 20 minutes.

A soon as people see that it has taken effect, the villagers enter the ponds with baskets made of bamboo to quickly collect the fish, because after these 20 minutes the fish will return to their natural state and it will be more difficult to catch them.

This plant continues to exist on the banks of ravines of the deep part of the jungle and this ancestral method is still used to fish since fish are the main source of food. The plant is natural; it only numbs the fish without killing them and people only collect what they need to eat.

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