Amazonian jungle, the Waorani, how the wild tribe lives today

Waorani is a tribe of Indians living in the Amazon jungle in eastern Ecuador. For centuries they have not come into contact with the outside world, but now some groups of this tribe allow tourists to visit their villages. Interesting to know! We will take you deep into the Amazon rainforest to show how the wild Waorani tribe lives.

The Waorani speak the isolated Wao Tiriro and Spanish language and inhabit an area of 30,000 square kilometers. Since the second half of the twentieth century, five groups of these people have been at war with others and live in isolation in the depths of the forest.

Waorani has excellent knowledge of the geography of the area and is versed in ethnobotany and ethnomedicine. In the hunt, they use long hollow tubes, called blowgun, to put darts concerted with the neurotoxic curare poison. The inhabitants mainly hunt monkeys – a favorite dish of the tribe.

Like most Indian tribes, Waorani does not have a division of the world into material and spiritual. The forest is a source of physical and cultural survival and a home that can defend against enemies. Man is one with nature, and spirits are present everywhere.

The village is well-versed in vegetation: they know exactly which plant has medicinal properties and can prepare poisons and hallucinogens.

The Waorani believe that every living being has a spirit that must be honored. Amazingly, they hunt certain types of animals: monkeys, birds, and wild peccaries. They never kill jaguars, deer, large birds of prey, and snakes. The inhabitants believe in their origin from the union of the deer and the harpy (the giant bird of prey in the Amazon). And they do not kill snakes because they consider it a bad sign.

Despite the contact of some tribes with civilizations, they still retain their military traditions, and often clans attack each other.

The Shaman visits the sick people in their cabins, using herbs to cure sickness. Many Huaorani die from snake bites. Shaman uses the powerful beverages ayahuasca and newly identified mushroom with the analogous substances of Psilocybe genus.

Ontagamo Kaimo out hunting with his blowgun.
©NRDC – Ontagamo Kaimo out hunting with his blowgun.

While the men are hunting, the women keep their home, taking care of the household and the children. A unique feature of the Waorani is its low growth. For men, it is 154 cm, and for women, it is 144 cm.

Due to hunting in the trees, the Waorani’s feet deform. The Waorani have learned to benefit from meeting tourists. They make ornaments and sell them.

Huaorani Houses seen from the air
©Steven Bloom Images/Alamy/NRDC – Huaorani Houses seen from the air

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