Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Someone asked about Sapo/Kambo

Someone on a forum onto which I occasionally post asked the general readership if anyone knew of a reliable source of good quality sapo/kambo sticks. This is what I wrote in response:
  Having a reliable source is not always easy, because even if you know someone who really does know how to collect sapo/kambo, there are some months annually when the frog is difficult to collect. When the water is rising and the females are gestating, the frogs, both male and female tend to climb high up in trees that are too thin-trunked for humans, even indigenous, to reach. This past November, December, January and February were like that in northwest Amazonia. Few reachable frogs and many people who work with sapo/kambo ran low or out of their medicine. Now that the eggs are in their "nest" above the water, into which they will fall as tadpoles, the frogs have come down several meters in the trees and are easier to reach. So for the next few months they will be plentiful--so long as they are not over-milked and collected properly in a way that does not harm them and quickly releases them back onto their favorite trees once they've been milked for a few minutes.
   On the other hand, with the sudden and extreme rise in demand, lots and lots of people are collecting the P. bicolor who have no idea what they are doing and are therefore collecting poor sapo/kambo. Bad collecting begins with touching the frog for even a moment prior to milking it. In that moment of touching, or worse, people collecting them by physically grabbing them from their tree perch, they are frightened and will give off their most potent protective "venom". Which doesn't mean there won't be more juice to milk, but it will mean that the material collected will not be full strength--similarly to the way a venomous snake has more venom than it needs to kill its prey: but the venom it releases in the time immediately after a snake has used venom to kill its prey will not be nearly as strong as that initial burst. Which explains how people survive bites from snakes that would otherwise be deadly--they got bitten after the snake ate and while it's digesting and it's venom was not fully replenished and at full strength.
    So you've got two issues: the time of the year when frogs are difficult to get, and the new breed of collector who is out for the money and has no idea what they are really doing.

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