JUL 08, 2017 03:27 PM PDT

Hunting hallucinogenic honey in Nepal

1 3 456

Called "mad honey," for the psychotropic effects that are a result of the toxins in the rhododendron trees that cover the hills of the Hongu Valley, this Himalayan honey sure isn't easy to get a hold of. This extreme 360 degree video footage (be sure to check out all the angles with the arrows in the top left corner!) documents photographer Renan Ozturk as he accompanies Nepali honey hunter Maule Dhan on a harvest, climbing three hundred feet up a bamboo rope past defensive honeybees to reach the hive, hacking huge hunks of it off in order to obtain the honey, and carrying it safely down to the earth, ensuring its viability for market. On the Asian black market, mad honey can fetch as much as $60-$80 a pound, more than 6 times the price of normal honey. But that's only part of the lure for Maule, who at 57 has been charged with this responsibility for 42 years. He says he uses the cash to buy the staples he doesn't grow himself, but considers the job to dangerous to continue for long. Maule was chosen to carry out this unique task by a spirit that came in a dream. His people, the Kulung, believe that Rangkemi, the guardian spirit of the bees, will protect him in his quest.

But Maule thinks that his quest may be nearing its end. His body is not as strong nor energetic as it used to be and the risk of falling and death during a hunt is high. But when Maule takes his last harvest, it may mean the end to a tradition, as no one else is interested or had the dream that gives them Rangkemi's blessing. While Maule says he prefers for his own sons to go to school to be educated, he seems disappointed that the tradition might end. "Children these days don't value he culture. If this continues, our culture is going to disappear."

Source: National Geographic
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 12, 2018
Videos
JUN 12, 2018
Should You Eat Those Banana Peels?
Most people peel their bananas open and eat what’s on the inside, but it may be a good idea for the sake of your health to eat the entire banana, inc
JUN 13, 2018
Neuroscience
JUN 13, 2018
Can This Robot Read Your Thoughts?
Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of neuroscience. Research is ongoing into projects that are investigating if AI could help those with Parkinson
JUN 17, 2018
Videos
JUN 17, 2018
These Are the World's Largest Life Forms
Life forms throughout Earth’s history come in all different shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered which ones were the largest? Mountain ash tr
JUN 25, 2018
Videos
JUN 25, 2018
No, You Shouldn't Pee On That Jellyfish Sting
You might’ve heard the rumor that you can alleviate some of the suffering associated with a jellyfish sting by urinating on it, but you might want to
JUL 01, 2018
Videos
JUL 01, 2018
Need a good cry?
  If you’re like me, sometimes a good cry really can fix everything. And this time science actually agrees with me! There are several different
JUL 02, 2018
Videos
JUL 02, 2018
Watch SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Ship Dock with the International Space Station
Just as expected, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spaceship docked with the International Space Station on Monday to provide crew members with fresh food, supp
Loading Comments...