Ancient Traditional Honey Hunters Of Nepal

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Andrew Newey, an award-winning UK-based travel photographer, has captured gripping photographs of central Nepalese Gurung tribe members engaged in a dangerous and ancient tradition – honey hunting.

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Twice a year, the Gurung honey hunters ascend to the base of cliffs in central Nepal and ascend them to collect honey. They use the same tools that their ancestors did – hand-woven rope ladders and tangos, the long sharp bamboo poles that they use to cut the honey-filled hives off of the face of the cliff and drop them into baskets waiting below.

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After lighting smoke fires at the base of the cliff to smoke out the bees, they climb their ladders and collect their honey.

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Besides the danger of falling, they also happen to be harvesting the honey of the largest honeybee in the world. The Himalayan honey bee can grow to be up to 3 cm (1.2 in) in length. Due to grayanotoxins from the white rhododendrons they feed on in the spring, their spring honey can be intoxicating, and fetches high prices in Japan, Korea and China.

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The open cliff-face hives help protect the bees from predators and keeps them warm by exposing them to sunlight.

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Honey hunting is among the oldest known human activities. There is an 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain that portrays a man climbing vines to collect honey. One can imagine that these brave honey hunters’ occupation probably stretches back just as far, if not further.

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