Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 427–434 | Cite as

The Selective Persistence of Local Ecological Knowledge: Honey Collecting with the Jenu Kuruba in South India

  • K. DempsEmail author
  • F. Zorondo-Rodriguez
  • C. García
  • V. Reyes-García


A jungle tribe, the Jenu-Kurubas gather the honey in the month of June. Having hit upon a hive in a hollow tree, they tie a bamboo, the short cut branches of which form a convenient ladder, to the tree during the day time and at night, provided with a basket attached to a long rope and lined with leaves, they climb up with a strongly smoking torch which they hold near the hive. The alarmed and half stunned bees fly away and their honeycombs are removed and let down in the basket. Whilst thus engaged, the Kurubas have a peculiar song, made for the occasion and expressing their feigned sympathy with the spoilated bees, so rudely disturbed of their nightly rest. (Richter 1870: 73)

Honey collection has seemingly changed little among the forest dwelling Jenu Kuruba in Kodagu, Southwest India, although many changes have come to the subcontinent since the time of the British Raj. The introduction of automobiles, cell phones, and cheap plastic can seem to overwhelm local cultural...


Wage Labor Local Ecological Knowledge Tree Cavity Food Taboo Honey Comb 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Jenukalla, M. G. for his role as research assistant and Dr. C.G. Kushalappa for help with access to the field sites. This research was funded by NSF- Cultural Anthropology Program (BSC-0726612) and ANR- French National Research Agency Project (ANR-05-PADD-0XX Public Policies and Traditional Management of Trees and Forests -POPULAR). The work was part of the project Managing Biodiversity in Mountain Landscapes ( of the French Institute of Pondicherry. We would like to thank Charles Kelada for assistance with data collection. Thank you to the Jenu Kuruba communities of Chottepare, Bassavanhalli, Diddali, Diddali Colony, and Thathalli.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Demps
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • F. Zorondo-Rodriguez
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. García
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • V. Reyes-García
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.French Institute of PondicherryPondicherryIndia
  3. 3.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.CIRAD, Goods and Services of Tropical Forest EcosystemsMontpellierFrance
  5. 5.CIFOR, Environmental Services and Sustainable Use of Forest ProgrammeBogorIndonesia
  6. 6.ICREA and Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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