Traditional Wild Protein Collection Techniques of the Naso People: On The Verge of Change

Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2012

Department 1

Center for Global Education


I studied the traditional wild protein collection techniques of the Naso people in the Syellick community Naso Territory, Bocas del Toro for 15 days during the end of November. The goal of this research was to record the various hunting techniques used by the Naso and determine whether those practices will disappear after the passing of this generation. I used informal and unstructured interviews as well as participant, objective, and passive observation (Master of Business Administration).

The Naso people complete at least one form of wild protein collection every day. The given technique is directly related to the weather on a given day. During my time, the rainy season, fishing was the most common technique used for wild protein collection including cast net, hook and line, spear fishing, and bow and arrow (note: some techniques were not observed due to water clarity). The most effective during my study was the cast net system which was also utilized during crawfish collection. In addition, shrimp were collected regularly using a sifting technique.

In one month, roughly 15 days are spent hunting in the mountains. Prior to hunting (and bow and arrow fishing), written permission must be granted from El Reyidor. If a hunter is caught in violation of this they are fined 30 days work, which prevents most poaching. Although traditionally a bow and arrow were used hunting, today a shotgun is used far more consistently.

The traditional hunting techniques will not be lost with the passing of the current generation because the children do learn every technique. However the art of hunting with a bow might disappear before long. The only thing encouraging bow and arrow production, thus passing on the knowledge, is tourism. Tourists want to purchase small bow and arrows that are “traditional,” however these small versions are modified from their original counterpart. Therefore, I believe that the use of a bow and arrow during hunting will disappear within the next few generations, while the general protein collection techniques will remain the same.

This paper was written for the Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation program.