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Fishing techniques of the folks
Advancement in science and technology have left behind most of the traditional methods of fishing followed by village folks. The rarely seen fishing equipment - Meenukooli (in Kannada language)is a very good example for this. This type of fish catching method is seen in some districts of Karnataka state in south India.
Meenukooli is a huge fish collecting quiver fixed amidst the flowing river water. Bamboo or wood is the material used by village folks to make this type of quiver.
A fishing quiver, meenukooli
A few years back, it was a common sight to see the meenukooli in many places of south and north Karnataka in India. But today it is rarely or accidentally seen like the ancient fossils suddenly found in a mining quarry. Generally, this equipment is prepared using bamboo. For a longer life span of this equipment, a thick fluid, which is a remainder liquid obtained from the arecanut after boiling is applied over it and dried before use. The sharp end of the fish catching equipment is tied with a strong dry creeper. This equipment then resembles a sharp ended basket. It is tied at a suitable place where fish is available in abundance in the flowing river. Once the fish enters the basket, there is no chance to escape from it again.
After the fishing quiver is emptied of fish, the equipment is fixed at another place where fish is found to be abundant. During a rainy seasons, within a matter of 1-5 hours, a basket full of fish gets collected in the fishing quiver.
Bamboo bed formation in the river
One such fishing quiver was seen at Yellapur taluk. River Shalmala flows between Sirsi -Yellapur taluk of north Karnataka. It flows via a place called Vadiraja’s Tapovan (Vadiraja’s meditation point) in the forest. The span of river at this place is about 60 feet. In the middle of the flowing river, spreading to an area of 30 feet, the meenukooli is placed. The length of it is ¾ feet. Lengthy bamboo of 20-21feet is split to produce halves and woven with strong creepers which resemble canes. It is half the size of a boat that moves in the water stream.
Slim type of bamboo are used in creating 5-6 feet width bamboo bed. They are then tied together. The fishing quiver is then attached near the water flowing end. It may look simple to build up but it is a very tough handicraft work of the folks. It is mainly a creative work of the tribal people in the region. The method of fishing with such an equipment is eco-friendly and nature friendly. Natural calamities, human greed, unavailability of skillful workers have collectively contributed to the disappearance of this type of traditional handicraft.
Unique way of catching fish
The fishes will be forced to get into the quiver in a unique manner. They use a local green leafy fibrous plant, for this purpose. In Kannada language, the rare plant with poisonous leaves is called Rammana soppu. The branches along with leaves are cut from the plant and crushed to gain a acid type of fluid that comes oozing out of it. The fluid when comes in contact with human skin can cause rashes, hot boils and burns. Within minutes, after the branches are placed closely to the fishing quiver, the fishes in that area lose consciousness. They are forced to move into the quiver and get collected. They will never be able to come out or escape again.
It is very much necessary to preserve such rare equipments and traditional methods that help us in understanding the village folks and their lifestyle better.