According to DigoPaul, a cannibal is a person who incurs cannibalism: that is, who eats human flesh. Cannibals, therefore, are human beings who eat human beings.
The concept, however, can be used in a broader sense to name the member of any species that feeds on the meat of other specimens of the same species.
The etymological origin of the term is found in the Taíno language. When the Europeans found American aborigines who were cannibals, they named them with a word from the indigenous peoples that actually alluded to audacity or daring.
It is probable that the first form of the word cannibal was cariba or caniba, and that it arose as a deformation of the term caribe. For the Arawak peoples (also known by the name Arawak), indigenous settlements in the circum-Caribbean region at the time of the conquest, the term in question meant “enemy,” exactly what the Caribs represented to them.
When Christopher Columbus arrived on the current American continent, on the island of Hispaniola he met these tribes and saw anthropophagy for the first time. According to the documents of the time, the Caribs fought against the Arawaks to steal their belongings and took advantage of the attacks to capture their children, whom they later castrated and fed until they ate them.
In ancient times, cannibalism was a practice of different human groups possibly inherited from their ancestors. With the passage of time, cannibalism became linked to certain rituals. There were people who were cannibals only at certain times and for a cultural reason.
Cannibalism is currently a practice punishable by law, as well as condemned at the social level. Among the reasons why a human being can act in this way today are extreme hunger, mental disorders or the involvement of a criminal organization.
The vast majority of people are repulsed by the thought of eating human flesh, and this makes so-called carnism even more difficult to understand, that is, the ideology or set of beliefs organized in a system that conditions beings. humans to eat meat and other animal products. Why would anyone devour a steak with gusto and squirm in disgust at the very idea of cannibalism? In part, because he does not hunt with his bare hands or tear the cow before cutting and cooking it.
In the last decades, however, there have been cases of individuals who were forced to act like cannibals in extreme situations. A famous case was the one that occurred in 1972 in the Andes Mountains, when a plane carrying Uruguayan rugby players fell on the mountain and the survivors had to eat some of the dead passengers to survive.
Stories have also been recorded of individuals with mental imbalances who resorted to cannibalism after committing a murder. Like Dorángel Vargas, a serial killer and cannibal who performed in Venezuela in the late 1990’s.
Cannibalism as a concept is opposed to the ideal organization of a species, since nature expects that among all of us we achieve the balance in another way: eating the individuals of the other species, whether they are animals or plants, to prevent their populations from increasing. disproportionately.
If we observe the groups of natural hunters, such as wolves or lions, we will notice that their populations are usually considerably smaller than those of their prey, and this reinforces what was said in the previous paragraph. If the wolves ate each other, not only would they become extinct, but the animals that were previously part of their diet would reproduce excessively and this would have many negative consequences.