A photographer has opened a window into the lives of a remote Pacific tribe residing deep in the jungle of Indonesian New Guinea.
The Korowai people are thought to have been completely disconnected from the outside world until the 1970s.
The tribe, famous for building their distinctive tree houses 140ft above the ground in the canopy above, have now largely abandoned this tradition for villages on the ground.
Here is a clip from the Human Planet episode:
The new photos, by a Russian photographer, show the tribe members going about their daily tasks, gathering food, feeding children, and building.
The Korowai live in southeastern Papua, and had their first recorded interaction with the outside world in a 1974 when members of one clan met with a group of scientists.
An Australian TV crew claimed after their 2006 visit to the tribe that they still practiced cannibalism, however this has since been disputed.
The Korowai were documented in an episode of Human Planet building their tree top homes, but it was later found out to be a misrepresentation of how they live and the tree houses were in fact built for the programme.
Earlier this year, Will Millard was visiting the tribe for BBC’s My Year With The Tribe, where he was told of how the raised houses were commissioned for filming’.
Following the news, the BBC released a statement saying Human Planet ‘breached editorial standards’ by inaccurately portraying the life of the 3,000 Korowai who populate the jungle.
Amateur photographer Maxim Russkikh, who took the most recent photos, said to the Daily Mail:
Korowai are skilled hunters and are sometimes away from their homes for days, hunting for rats, pigs, birds and fish. The staple for their prey consists of sago and bananas.
After the sago palm is cut down and split by men, the heart of the sago palm, which produces a starchy substance, is washed and kneaded or beaten by the women to get the sago flour.
Russkikh expressed concern that the tribe’s way of life is being threatened by Christian missionaries and the Muslim Indonesian government who wish to force their culture upon them.
Korowai have managed to survive in the harsh environment of the rainforest over thousands of years keeping its traditional culture alive. And it seems like right now they are disappearing day by day.
They are surrounded by the dozens of missionary villages supported by the Indonesian government with the only purpose to introduce the western culture and spiritual values.
Explaining how the tribe had already changed so much, the photographer said:
Hundreds of Korowai have moved already from the jungles to newly constructed missionary settlements and more are coming. ]
Often believing that the tribes are ‘primitive’ and living pitiful lives ‘in the dark’, the missionaries’ ultimate aim is to convert them to Christianity.
There are less than a hundred uncontacted small tribes around the world and they need to be protected by international law.
Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable people on earth, especially in West Papua, and they need to survive.
Hopefully the tribe is able to maintain its sacred and unique culture.
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