By: Ian Saem Majnep and Ralph Bulmer
452 pages, 20 photos, 18 illus, 3 maps
This is a very special kind of animal book. The first author, Ian Saem Majnep, grew up on the edge of the cool upper montane forest, hunting, foraging and gardening and absorbing an immense body of traditional knowledge and belief about animals and wider Kalam natural history. Saem gives an insider's view of the wild mammals of his home area and shows how Kalam animal lore is woven into the customary life of his people.
Some 53 species of wild terrestrial mammals (28 marsupials, 24 rodents and the wild New Guinea singing dog) are present in and near the Kaironk Valley. The Kalam high-order taxonomy of mammals is very different to that of Western zoologists. They divide terrestrial mammals into two broad categories: kmn `game mammals', that is, the larger marsupials and giant rats, that are mainly arboreal and are men's prime game, and as `small mammals and frogs', that are mainly ground-dwelling and are hunted chiefly by women. In over twenty chapters, Saem describes these animals, grouping them in terms of their appearance, habitats and behaviour. Over the past 50 years the Kalam have gone from pre-contact isolation to partial participation in the modern world. This shift has come at a price - much of the natural history knowledge that Saem records is in danger of being lost to younger Kalam, and to the scientific world.
The book includes three major appendices detailing the mammals recorded in the Kalam region, their Kalam names, and the hundreds of plants that are of significance in the text.
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