National Geographic : 1975 Jul
eyes." A pack of dogs milled about, growling and whining. Onges are seldom without their pets. Sometimes the animals sleep on the tiny cots with their masters. Wild-pig Hunt Proves a Yelping Success The dog was introduced to Little Andaman at the turn of the century, causing a sudden increase in wild-pig bones in kitchen middens, those refuse heaps so meaningful to anthro pologists. Why the Onges prize their dogs became clear to me when I joined bachelors Kokalai and Borugegi on a hunt. With five mongrels yelping behind them and one on a leash leading the way, they kept a fast pace through the forest. The dogs darted left, right, forward, and circled. We were sweating from the exertion and heat, the dogs gasping for breath, their tongues dripping. Then the dogs gave a frantic yelp and darted off. Behind them, like quicksilver, ran Ko kalai, spear poised. As Borugegi and I neared the yelping dogs, I heard a wild pig scream ing. The dogs had cornered it, and Kokalai soon speared it. Amid clouds of flies, the hunters cleaned the pig, giving the entrails to the dogs, which crowded round. Then we slowly headed back, Kokalai laden with our prize. Silk-cotton trees and other forest giants towered like the columns of a forgotten Goth ic cathedral that now appeared sinister with age. Only occasional shafts of light penetrated to the rocks covered with slime. The mass of tangled foliage seemed frightening, surreal istic, as if created by some malevolent force. Twisted stems of the sword bean zigzagged before my eyes. Fallen, rotting tree trunks littered the path, crumbling underfoot. Vines, roots, and furrows where pigs had rooted for tubers set traps for the unwary. Monitor liz ards rustled through the dead leaves. Pigeons cooed unseen a hundred feet over head. Once Kokalai stopped and mimicked one, and the bird replied. Another time Boru gegi stopped in his tracks and pointed up in to the foliage of a mighty tree. Kokalai was immediately at his side, looking up, and his eyes gleamed too. I followed their gaze upward, but it seemed minutes before I spotted the bee colony some fifty feet above us. The honey-collecting sea son had not started, but the young men would remember the spot and return. To get the honey and avoid stings, they would chew tonjoghe leaves, supposedly narcotic, and blow their moist breath over the hives, drug ging the bees. As further protection, they would smear their bodies with a paste made of the chewed leaves. Back at the camp, Kokalai and Borugegi singed the pig, then boiled it. When the feast was ready, all the Onges dipped chapaties On the move in the dry season, Onges roam from place to place in search of food, living in temporary camps. At South Bay (left), couples carry poles and palm fronds, build ing materials for the korale, a lean-to that serves as their home on the trail.