Inside the African pygmy tribe battling for survival deep in the disappearing rainforest

Known as the Baka, or locally in Congo as Bayaka, people, the tribe lives in west and central Africa. Living in the dense rainforest has given the Baka people has made them adapt to climate's challenges, but half of children are dead by the age of five. 

Photographer and freelance journalist, Susan Schulman, spent a few days with the tribe in February 2016. Schulman's interest in the pygmy tribe came about after hearing about Louis Sarno, who has spent the last 30 years living with the Baka people in the Central African Republic and serving as their doctor.

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Inside the world of Louis Sarno, The Pygmy Chief from New Jersey


Louis Sarno is a dear acquaintance of mine for many years that Global Voice has been supporting since 2002 (he had been living with the Pygmies in the Congo for 30 years).

"Louis Sarno has described many times what led him to the rainforest, including in a tight précis at the start of his 1993 memoir Song From The Forest – My Life Among The Ba-Benjellé Pygmies. “I was drawn to the heart of Africa by a song,” the book begins..."

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The Last Lioness: Lady and Herbert

"A haunting call echoes across the Liuwa Plain. There is no answer, there hasn't been for years. She has no pride, no support - she alone must safeguard her own survival. Her name is Lady Liuwa, and she is the Last Lioness.

Isolated by a scourge of illegal trophy hunting that wiped out the rest of her species in the region, Lady Liuwa is the only known resident lion surviving on Zambia's Liuwa Plain. For four years, cameraman Herbert Brauer watched her lonely life unfold, until, in her solitude, she reached out to him for companionship.

But Herbert knows he is not the companion this lonely lioness needs - she should be amongst her own kind. Now, in May of 2009, plans for a male lion translocation have come through, and there is hope for ending her isolation. Lady Liuwa will no longer be the Last Lioness - find out how she copes as lions return to her plain for the first time in over five years."

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Director of Photography
HERBERT BRAUER (the photographer who worked with Global Voice on Music that Floats From Afar and Notes from Afar)

Small People. Big Trees.

"The Republic of South Africa. Here in the shade of sub-panel rainforests lives a tribe of the shortest people on Earth - the Baka pigmies. As it was hundreds years ago they hunt for meat and gather gifts of big trees. They pray to the spirits of the forest and teach their children to respect the forest, to take from it only what is of great need. But little by little their traditional mode is changing under the pressure of the "Big World" culture."

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Opening our minds to Indigenous Issues

Gonzalo Oviedo

Gonzalo Oviedo

Gonzalo Oviedo is the person every conservationist dreams of sitting next to at a dinner party. He hails from Ecuador and has worked and traveled pretty much everywhere from the remotest part of the Galapagos Islands to the most northerly corner of Russia. IUCN's Senior Advisor for Social Policy, we caught up with Oviedo to ask him about his tireless work with Indigenous Peoples.

What’s the best IP project you have seen put together? 

"There are many excellent projects with Indigenous Peoples. One of my main areas of attention, because of my old-time interest in education, is inter-generational cultural connections. Indigenous peoples in most cases (as everyone in the world) are undergoing rapid cultural change, with the good and the bad effects of it. How indigenous children and youth experience their own culture – their traditional knowledge, practices and institutions? How do they embrace them? Will they continue with their value systems? These are questions that I am not alone in wondering about – they are the questions that I often hear from indigenous elders, who greatly worry about the future of their cultures. In this context, some of the projects that I remember and value most are projects focusing on the youth. In a remote forest area of Southeast Asia, a project organized periodic “forest expeditions” bringing together the elders - traditional experts in forest-related knowledge, with groups of youth who were normally attending schools (where they don’t learn about traditional knowledge). Over a week or so, the “forest expeditions” were a living school on traditional forest knowledge, and an opportunity for transmission of values and inter-generational bonding. In central Africa, a project works with young indigenous Bayakas to help them “reconnect” with their cultures, take pride of them and enhance their capacity to interact with the broader society – I follow this project with great interest. I really think these experiences speak to the future of indigenous cultures, and we should be doing more of this." – Gonzalo Oviedo

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The Land of No Men: Inside Kenya's Women-Only Village

Where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the desert, the people of Samburu have maintained a strict patriarchy for over 500 years in northern Kenya. That is, until 25 years ago, when Rebecca Lolosoli founded Umoja village as a safe haven for the region's women. Umoja, which means "unity" in Swahili, is quite literally a no man's land, and the matriarchal refuge is now home to the Samburu women who no longer want to suffer abuses, like genital mutilation and forced marriages, at the hands of men.

Throughout the years, it has also empowered other women in the districts surrounding Samburu to start their own men-excluding villages. Broadly visited Umoja and the villages it inspired to meet with the women who were fed up with living in a violent patriarchy.

Source and credit: Broadly