Why do different subsistence technologies exist among Congo Basin foragers? Forest foragers rely on a range of cooperative and individual hunting techniques including nets, spears, bows, traps, and hand capture of small prey. Turnbull (1965) made a distinction between net hunters (Mbuti) and archers (Efe), but Harako was among the first to question why these different subsistence technologies co-existed within the Ituri Forest. He related it to language groups, suggesting that hunting nets were introduced by Bantu speakers and only those foragers who associated with Bantu-speaking villagers adopted the use of nets. Since Efe foragers maintained an exchange relationship with Sudanic-speaking Lese farmers, the Efe continued to use the same archery technology employed by the Lese (Harako 1976). This fundamental issue of forest forager diversity would be re-examined from many different perspectives in later years.
It was assumed that bow hunting was less efficient than net hunting, but studies have since demonstrated that the methods are comparable in terms of efficiency (Bailey and Aunger 1989). Numerous other factors have been investigated, although single-variable explanations are probably too simple to account for the observed variation. Many interrelated variables have been shown to influence hunting decisions: seasonal considerations, number of participants, targeted prey, method efficiency, risk sharing, proximity to farming populations, market involvement, and possibly the foraging goals of individual men, women, and children (Hewlett 1996; Lupo and Schmitt 2004).
What is the nature of forager-farmer relationships? How integrated or separate are the two ways of life? Are foragers serfs or slaves of neighbouring farmers? According to Turnbull (1965, 146) “the relationship between the two neighboring peoples, is of the greatest importance and has been subject to the greatest misunderstanding.” Few aspects of forest forager life have