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History tells the tales of our ancestors and their way of life before we existed. We hear stories of how they had to hunt for meals to survive. Centuries later, the world evolved, and we have all kinds of technology at our disposal. The transition seems to have affected the entire world, but there is a unique tribe that chose not to be affected by the change into a modernized life.

The Hadzabe tribe is a Tanzanian indigenous ethnic group primarily based in the southwest Karatu District of the Arusha Region. These sets of people are not closely related to another tribe because they live isolated life. Although tourism and safari hunting has interfered with their life, they still strongly practice the lifestyle of their ancestors. They are among the few tribes worldwide that still hunt for their next meal. They do not farm or own livestock. Instead, they hunt their food with handmade bows and arrows, while the women go out to gather tubers and staple food.

The Hadzabe men on their way to hunt
A Hadza woman

The Hadzabe people climb tall baobab trees to collect raw honey from stinging bees; they climb inside the tree to collect honey with their bare hands. They are among the most skilled hunters worldwide because they don’t survive solely on honey from bees. They go deep into the forest to hunt for animals like antelopes, baboons, rabbits, etc. The Hadzabe tribe, however, does not hunt hyenas. Another unique characteristic of the Hadzabe people is that they communicate through sounds and clicks; they can also mimic the sounds of certain animals.

Hadzabe men on a boabab tree
Hadza man eating honeycomb and larvae from a beehive.

The Hadzabe men have learned the ways of the forest; they can read the footprints or changes in their path to know what they are about to hunt down. They also move around with their dogs to sniff and alert them once new prey is in sight. The dogs are their eyes and ears for what the humans can’t comprehend. The Hadzabe people use a total of seven different arrows for hunting. Each of these arrows is designed to have a specific purpose. They have one for hunting rodents, one for birds, and one to poison larger animals like Zebras and Baboons.

The tribe also has a unique way of picking a chief for the tribe. The Hadzabe man with the most animal tails becomes the chief of the tribe. The skin of the dead animals is preserved to serve as clothing for them. The people of this tribe are used to pastoral life. Their source of drinking water is from the ponds and rivers surrounding them.

Different poisoned arrows used for hunting by the Hadzabe tribe.

It is tradition for the people of the tribe to gather before or after hunting each day to smoke tobacco and weed. The Hadzabe tribe sounds fearless, but they live their daily lives fearing being eaten by lions, elephants, and rhinos. When a family member or friend dies, they carry the corpse to a cave. They believe the body of the dead will go to the sun. Other facts about the Hadzabe people are: any number greater than four is not in their vocabulary, they do not have clocks or calendars, they are the only community in Tanzania that doesn’t pay tax, and they raise their children as a community. They live by the adage, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’

A Hadza hunter wearing a genet cat skin cape while smoking cannabis

The Hadzabe have lived like this for a long time. However, in recent times, they are being threatened by extinction due to the shrinkage of their land, shortage of animals, tourism, cattle rearers, and other factors. They have lost close to ninety percent of their land over the past fifty years.

Presently, there are only 1200 Hadzabe people left, and only 400 out of those 1200 still live purely as hunters. The rest have adapted to the modernized way of life.

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