Editor's Picks 30 October

Collection with 14 media items created by Transterra Editor

30 Oct 2013 15:00

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Lost In The Jungle (4 of 31)
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012

The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

The picture shows two pygmi hunters, with their bows and arrows, before starting the hunting, looking at the spot where the animal is hiding.

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Lost In The Jungle (20 of 31)
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012

The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

The picture shows a pygmi woman, painted in her face, in a traditional dance, evoking ancestral spirits for the protection of the pygmies, living in the Etaeto area.

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Lost In The Jungle: The Mbuti Pygmies...
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012
The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo. Pygmy is a term used for various ethnic groups worldwide whose average height is unusually short; anthropologists define pygmy as any group whose adult men grow to less than 150 cm (59 inches) in average height. A member of a slightly taller group is termed "pygmoid." The best known pygmies are the Aka, Efé and Mbuti of central Africa. 
The term "pygmy" is sometimes considered pejorative. However, there is no single term to replace it. Many so-called pygmies prefer instead to be referred to by the name of their various ethnic groups, or names for various interrelated groups such as the Aka (Mbenga), Baka, Mbuti, and Twa. The term Bayaka, the plural form of the Aka/Yaka, is sometimes used in the Central African Republic to refer to all local Pygmies. Likewise, the Kongo word Bambenga is used in Congo. The term pygmy, as used to refer to diminutive people, derives from Greek πυγμαίος Pygmaios via Latin Pygmaei (sing. Pygmaeus), derived from πυγμή – a fist, or a measure of length corresponding to the distance between the elbow and knuckles. In Greek mythology the word describes a tribe of dwarfs, first described by Homer, and reputed to live in India and south of modern day Ethiopia. Various theories have been proposed to explain the short stature of pygmies. Evidence of heritability has been established which may have evolved as an adaptation to low ultraviolet light levels in rainforests. This might mean that relatively little vitamin D can be made in human skin, thereby limiting calcium uptake from the diet for bone growth and maintenance, and leading to the evolution of the small skeletal size characteristic of pygmies.
Other explanations include lack of food in the rainforest environment, low calcium levels in the soil, the need to move through dense jungle, adaptation to heat and humidity, and most recently, as an association with rapid reproductive maturation under conditions of early mortality. Other evidence points towards unusually low levels of expression of the genes encoding the growth hormone receptor and growth hormone relative to the related tribal groups, associated with low serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 and short stature. Pygmies live in several ethnic groups in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment. They trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest. There are at least a dozen Pygmy groups, sometimes unrelated to each other, the best known being the Mbenga (Aka and Baka) of the western Congo basin, which speak Bantu and Ubangian languages; the Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest, which speak Bantu and Central Sudanic languages, and the Twa of the Great Lakes, which speak Bantu Rundi and Kiga. A commonly held belief is that African Pygmies are the direct descendants of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherer peoples of the central African rainforest, who were partially absorbed or displaced by later immigration of agricultural peoples, and adopted their Central Sudanic, Ubangian, and Bantu languages. This view has no archaeological support, and ambiguous support from genetics and linguistics..Genetically, the pygmies are extremely divergent from all other human populations, suggesting they have an ancient indigenous lineage. Their uniparental markers represent the most ancient divergent ones right after those typically found in Khoisan peoples. African pygmy populations possess high levels of genetic diversity; recent advances in genetics shed some light on the origins of the various pygmy groups. The transition from hunting and gathering to farming involved a major cultural innovation that has spread rapidly over most of the globe in the last ten millennia. In sub-Saharan Africa, hunter–gatherers have begun to shift toward an agriculture-based lifestyle over the last 5,000 years. Only a few populations still base their mode of subsistence on hunting and gathering. The Pygmies are considered to be the largest group of mobile hunter–gatherers of Africa. They dwell in equatorial rainforests and are characterized by their short mean stature. However, little is known about the chronology of the demographic events — size changes, population splits, and gene flow — ultimately giving rise to contemporary Pygmy (Western and Eastern) groups and neighboring agricultural populations. .
Source: WP.

The footage shows a pygmi women traditional dance in the middle of the village.
Original footage: AVI

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Lost In The Jungle: The Mbuti Pygmies...
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012
The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo. Pygmy is a term used for various ethnic groups worldwide whose average height is unusually short; anthropologists define pygmy as any group whose adult men grow to less than 150 cm (59 inches) in average height. A member of a slightly taller group is termed "pygmoid." The best known pygmies are the Aka, Efé and Mbuti of central Africa. 
The term "pygmy" is sometimes considered pejorative. However, there is no single term to replace it. Many so-called pygmies prefer instead to be referred to by the name of their various ethnic groups, or names for various interrelated groups such as the Aka (Mbenga), Baka, Mbuti, and Twa. The term Bayaka, the plural form of the Aka/Yaka, is sometimes used in the Central African Republic to refer to all local Pygmies. Likewise, the Kongo word Bambenga is used in Congo. The term pygmy, as used to refer to diminutive people, derives from Greek πυγμαίος Pygmaios via Latin Pygmaei (sing. Pygmaeus), derived from πυγμή – a fist, or a measure of length corresponding to the distance between the elbow and knuckles. In Greek mythology the word describes a tribe of dwarfs, first described by Homer, and reputed to live in India and south of modern day Ethiopia. Various theories have been proposed to explain the short stature of pygmies. Evidence of heritability has been established which may have evolved as an adaptation to low ultraviolet light levels in rainforests. This might mean that relatively little vitamin D can be made in human skin, thereby limiting calcium uptake from the diet for bone growth and maintenance, and leading to the evolution of the small skeletal size characteristic of pygmies.
Other explanations include lack of food in the rainforest environment, low calcium levels in the soil, the need to move through dense jungle, adaptation to heat and humidity, and most recently, as an association with rapid reproductive maturation under conditions of early mortality. Other evidence points towards unusually low levels of expression of the genes encoding the growth hormone receptor and growth hormone relative to the related tribal groups, associated with low serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 and short stature. Pygmies live in several ethnic groups in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment. They trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest. There are at least a dozen Pygmy groups, sometimes unrelated to each other, the best known being the Mbenga (Aka and Baka) of the western Congo basin, which speak Bantu and Ubangian languages; the Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest, which speak Bantu and Central Sudanic languages, and the Twa of the Great Lakes, which speak Bantu Rundi and Kiga. A commonly held belief is that African Pygmies are the direct descendants of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherer peoples of the central African rainforest, who were partially absorbed or displaced by later immigration of agricultural peoples, and adopted their Central Sudanic, Ubangian, and Bantu languages. This view has no archaeological support, and ambiguous support from genetics and linguistics..Genetically, the pygmies are extremely divergent from all other human populations, suggesting they have an ancient indigenous lineage. Their uniparental markers represent the most ancient divergent ones right after those typically found in Khoisan peoples. African pygmy populations possess high levels of genetic diversity; recent advances in genetics shed some light on the origins of the various pygmy groups. The transition from hunting and gathering to farming involved a major cultural innovation that has spread rapidly over most of the globe in the last ten millennia. In sub-Saharan Africa, hunter–gatherers have begun to shift toward an agriculture-based lifestyle over the last 5,000 years. Only a few populations still base their mode of subsistence on hunting and gathering. The Pygmies are considered to be the largest group of mobile hunter–gatherers of Africa. They dwell in equatorial rainforests and are characterized by their short mean stature. However, little is known about the chronology of the demographic events — size changes, population splits, and gene flow — ultimately giving rise to contemporary Pygmy (Western and Eastern) groups and neighboring agricultural populations. .
Source: WP.

The footage shows two pygmi women, early in the morning, going to the river next to the village, holding their children.
Original footage: AVI

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Lost In The Jungle (13 of 31)
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012

The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

The picture shows a pygmi who have been climbed a twenty-five meters, in searching of animals for hunting.

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In the land of God: the Huaorani trib...
Pastaza Ecuador
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
27 Oct 2012

Cononaco Bameno-Ecuador(South America) October 27th-2012-EXCLUSIVE FEATURE STORY.
The Huaorani, also known as the Waos, are native Amerindians from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador (Napo, Orellana and Pastaza Provinces) who have marked differences from other ethnic groups from Ecuador. They comprise almost 4,000 inhabitants and speak the Huaorani language, a linguistic isolate that is not known to be related to any other language. Their ancestral lands are located between the Curaray and Napo rivers, about 50 miles (80 km) south of El Coca. These homelands – approximately 120 miles (190 km) wide and 75 to 100 miles (120 to 160 km) from north to south – are threatened by oil exploration. In 1993, the Huaorani, and Quichua indigenous people, filed a lawsuit against Texaco oil company for the environmental damages caused by oil extraction activities in the Lago Agrio oil field. After handing control of the oil fields to an Ecuadorian oil company, Texaco did not properly dispose of its hazardous waste, causing great damages to the ecosystem and crippling communities. And recently, an US oil giant, has been fined $8.6 billion, for causing devastating pollution in large parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, where Huaorani tribe lives. The oil firm Texaco, wich merged with Chevron in 2001, had been accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits in the Amazon’s rainforest and rivers. Tribes indigenous to the area, like the Huaorani, have campaigned for almost two decades against the firm’s actions, saying that the poisonous waste has increased cancer rates, killed wildlife and contaminated water.In the past, Huaorani were able to protect their culture and lands from both indigenous enemies and settlers but the fighting against the multinational oil company, still goes on.
In the last 40 years, they have shifted from a hunting and gathering society to live mostly in permanent forest settlements. In traditional animist Huaorani worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds, and spirits are present throughout the world. The Huaorani once believed that the entire world was a forest (and used the same word, ömë, for both). The Oriente’s rainforest of Ecuador, remains the essential basis of their physical and cultural survival. For them, the forest is home, while the outside world is considered unsafe: living in the forest offered protection from the witchcraft and attacks of neighboring peoples.
The Huaorani believe the animals of their forest have a spiritual as well as physical existence. They believe that a person who dies walks a trail to the afterlife which has a large anaconda snake lying in wait. Those among the dead who cannot escape the snake fail to enter the domain of dead spirits and return to Earth to become animals, often termites. This underlies a mix of practices that recognize and respect animals, but does not shield them from harm for human use.
Hunting supplies a major part of the Huaorani diet and is of cultural significance. Traditionally, the creatures hunted were limited to monkeys, birds, and wild peccaries. Neither land-based predators nor birds of prey are hunted. Traditionally there was an extensive collection of hunting and eating taboos. They refused to eat deer, on the grounds that deer eyes look similar to human eyes. While a joyful activity, hunting (even permitted animals) has ethical ramifications: “The Huaorani must kill animals to live, but they believed dead animal spirits live on and must be placated or else do harm in angry retribution.” To counterbalance the offense of hunting, a shaman demonstrated respect through the ritual preparation of the poison, curare, used in blow darts. Hunting with such darts is not considered killing, but retrieving, essentially a kind of harvesting from the trees. Spearing wild peccaries, on the other hand, is killing and is practiced with violence and rage.
While never hunted, two other animals, the snake and the jaguar, have special significance for the Huaorani. Snakes are considered "the most evil force in the Huaorani cosmology", particularly the imposing (though nonvenemous) anaconda, or obe. A giant obe stands in the way of the forest trail that the dead follow to an afterlife with the creator in the sky. Here on earth, snakes are a bad omen, and traditionally killing them is considered taboo.
The Huaorani identify deeply with the jaguar, an important and majestic predator in the Oriente province of Ecuador. According to myth, the Huaorani were the descendants of a mating between a jaguar and an eagle. Elders became shamans by metaphorically adopting “jaguar sons” whose spirits communicate medical and spiritual knowledge. In the Huaorani belief system, jaguar shamans are able “to become a jaguar, and so to travel great distances telepathically and communicate with other Huaorani.”
Plants, especially trees, continue to hold a complex and important interest for the Huaorani. Their store of botanical knowledge is extensive, ranging from knowledge of materials to poisons to hallucinogens to medicines. They also relate plants to their own experiences, particularly that of growing. Among trees, certain kinds are auspicious. Canopy trees, with their distinctly colored young leaves and striking transformation as they mature to towering giants, are “admired for their solitary character … as well as for their profuse entanglement” with other plants. Other significant trees are the pioneer species of the peach palm (used for making spears and blowguns, as well as for fruit), and fast-growing balsa wood, used for ceremonial purposes. Peach palm trees are associated with past settlements and the ancestors who live there.
The Huaorani notion of time is particularly oriented to the present, with few obligations extending backwards or forwards in time. Their one word for future times, baane, also means "tomorrow". Spears are the main weapons of the Huaorani culture used in person to person conflict.
Their main hunting weapon is the blowgun. These weapons are typically from 3 to 4 metres long. The arrows used are dipped in curare poison, which paralyzes the muscles of the animal which is hit with it, so that it cannot breathe. Kapok fluff is used to create an air-tight seal, by twisting the fibers around the end of the dart or arrow. The pictures shows an ancient rituals between young huaorani women, painting their faces with the red ocra colour.

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In the land of God: the Huaorani trib...
Pastaza Ecuador
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
27 Oct 2012

Cononaco Bameno-Ecuador(South America) October 27th-2012-EXCLUSIVE FEATURE STORY.
The Huaorani, also known as the Waos, are native Amerindians from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador (Napo, Orellana and Pastaza Provinces) who have marked differences from other ethnic groups from Ecuador. They comprise almost 4,000 inhabitants and speak the Huaorani language, a linguistic isolate that is not known to be related to any other language. Their ancestral lands are located between the Curaray and Napo rivers, about 50 miles (80 km) south of El Coca. These homelands – approximately 120 miles (190 km) wide and 75 to 100 miles (120 to 160 km) from north to south – are threatened by oil exploration. In 1993, the Huaorani, and Quichua indigenous people, filed a lawsuit against Texaco oil company for the environmental damages caused by oil extraction activities in the Lago Agrio oil field. After handing control of the oil fields to an Ecuadorian oil company, Texaco did not properly dispose of its hazardous waste, causing great damages to the ecosystem and crippling communities. And recently, an US oil giant, has been fined $8.6 billion, for causing devastating pollution in large parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, where Huaorani tribe lives. The oil firm Texaco, wich merged with Chevron in 2001, had been accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits in the Amazon’s rainforest and rivers. Tribes indigenous to the area, like the Huaorani, have campaigned for almost two decades against the firm’s actions, saying that the poisonous waste has increased cancer rates, killed wildlife and contaminated water.In the past, Huaorani were able to protect their culture and lands from both indigenous enemies and settlers but the fighting against the multinational oil company, still goes on.
In the last 40 years, they have shifted from a hunting and gathering society to live mostly in permanent forest settlements. In traditional animist Huaorani worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds, and spirits are present throughout the world. The Huaorani once believed that the entire world was a forest (and used the same word, ömë, for both). The Oriente’s rainforest of Ecuador, remains the essential basis of their physical and cultural survival. For them, the forest is home, while the outside world is considered unsafe: living in the forest offered protection from the witchcraft and attacks of neighboring peoples.
The Huaorani believe the animals of their forest have a spiritual as well as physical existence. They believe that a person who dies walks a trail to the afterlife which has a large anaconda snake lying in wait. Those among the dead who cannot escape the snake fail to enter the domain of dead spirits and return to Earth to become animals, often termites. This underlies a mix of practices that recognize and respect animals, but does not shield them from harm for human use.
Hunting supplies a major part of the Huaorani diet and is of cultural significance. Traditionally, the creatures hunted were limited to monkeys, birds, and wild peccaries. Neither land-based predators nor birds of prey are hunted. Traditionally there was an extensive collection of hunting and eating taboos. They refused to eat deer, on the grounds that deer eyes look similar to human eyes. While a joyful activity, hunting (even permitted animals) has ethical ramifications: “The Huaorani must kill animals to live, but they believed dead animal spirits live on and must be placated or else do harm in angry retribution.” To counterbalance the offense of hunting, a shaman demonstrated respect through the ritual preparation of the poison, curare, used in blow darts. Hunting with such darts is not considered killing, but retrieving, essentially a kind of harvesting from the trees. Spearing wild peccaries, on the other hand, is killing and is practiced with violence and rage.
While never hunted, two other animals, the snake and the jaguar, have special significance for the Huaorani. Snakes are considered "the most evil force in the Huaorani cosmology", particularly the imposing (though nonvenemous) anaconda, or obe. A giant obe stands in the way of the forest trail that the dead follow to an afterlife with the creator in the sky. Here on earth, snakes are a bad omen, and traditionally killing them is considered taboo.
The Huaorani identify deeply with the jaguar, an important and majestic predator in the Oriente province of Ecuador. According to myth, the Huaorani were the descendants of a mating between a jaguar and an eagle. Elders became shamans by metaphorically adopting “jaguar sons” whose spirits communicate medical and spiritual knowledge. In the Huaorani belief system, jaguar shamans are able “to become a jaguar, and so to travel great distances telepathically and communicate with other Huaorani.”
Plants, especially trees, continue to hold a complex and important interest for the Huaorani. Their store of botanical knowledge is extensive, ranging from knowledge of materials to poisons to hallucinogens to medicines. They also relate plants to their own experiences, particularly that of growing. Among trees, certain kinds are auspicious. Canopy trees, with their distinctly colored young leaves and striking transformation as they mature to towering giants, are “admired for their solitary character … as well as for their profuse entanglement” with other plants. Other significant trees are the pioneer species of the peach palm (used for making spears and blowguns, as well as for fruit), and fast-growing balsa wood, used for ceremonial purposes. Peach palm trees are associated with past settlements and the ancestors who live there.
The Huaorani notion of time is particularly oriented to the present, with few obligations extending backwards or forwards in time. Their one word for future times, baane, also means "tomorrow". Spears are the main weapons of the Huaorani culture used in person to person conflict.
Their main hunting weapon is the blowgun. These weapons are typically from 3 to 4 metres long. The arrows used are dipped in curare poison, which paralyzes the muscles of the animal which is hit with it, so that it cannot breathe. Kapok fluff is used to create an air-tight seal, by twisting the fibers around the end of the dart or arrow. The pictures shows a huaorani family, navigating on the Cononaco Bameno river with their pirogue.

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Lost In The Jungle (2 of 31)
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012

The picture shows two pygmi hunters, with their bows and arrows, before starting the hunting, looking at the spot where the animal is hiding.

The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo. The picture shows two pygmy hunters, with their bows and arrows, chasing a Thompson gazelle, one of the favorite food of the pygmies.

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In the land of God: Looking To The Trees
Pastaza Ecuador
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
27 Oct 2012

Cononaco Bameno-Ecuador(South America) October 27th-2012-EXCLUSIVE FEATURE STORY.
The Huaorani, also known as the Waos, are native Amerindians from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador (Napo, Orellana and Pastaza Provinces) who have marked differences from other ethnic groups from Ecuador. They comprise almost 4,000 inhabitants and speak the Huaorani language, a linguistic isolate that is not known to be related to any other language. Their ancestral lands are located between the Curaray and Napo rivers, about 50 miles (80 km) south of El Coca. These homelands – approximately 120 miles (190 km) wide and 75 to 100 miles (120 to 160 km) from north to south – are threatened by oil exploration. In 1993, the Huaorani, and Quichua indigenous people, filed a lawsuit against Texaco oil company for the environmental damages caused by oil extraction activities in the Lago Agrio oil field. After handing control of the oil fields to an Ecuadorian oil company, Texaco did not properly dispose of its hazardous waste, causing great damages to the ecosystem and crippling communities. And recently, an US oil giant, has been fined $8.6 billion, for causing devastating pollution in large parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, where Huaorani tribe lives. The oil firm Texaco, wich merged with Chevron in 2001, had been accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits in the Amazon’s rainforest and rivers. Tribes indigenous to the area, like the Huaorani, have campaigned for almost two decades against the firm’s actions, saying that the poisonous waste has increased cancer rates, killed wildlife and contaminated water.In the past, Huaorani were able to protect their culture and lands from both indigenous enemies and settlers but the fighting against the multinational oil company, still goes on.
In the last 40 years, they have shifted from a hunting and gathering society to live mostly in permanent forest settlements. In traditional animist Huaorani worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds, and spirits are present throughout the world. The Huaorani once believed that the entire world was a forest (and used the same word, ömë, for both). The Oriente’s rainforest of Ecuador, remains the essential basis of their physical and cultural survival. For them, the forest is home, while the outside world is considered unsafe: living in the forest offered protection from the witchcraft and attacks of neighboring peoples.
The Huaorani believe the animals of their forest have a spiritual as well as physical existence. They believe that a person who dies walks a trail to the afterlife which has a large anaconda snake lying in wait. Those among the dead who cannot escape the snake fail to enter the domain of dead spirits and return to Earth to become animals, often termites. This underlies a mix of practices that recognize and respect animals, but does not shield them from harm for human use.
Hunting supplies a major part of the Huaorani diet and is of cultural significance. Traditionally, the creatures hunted were limited to monkeys, birds, and wild peccaries. Neither land-based predators nor birds of prey are hunted. Traditionally there was an extensive collection of hunting and eating taboos. They refused to eat deer, on the grounds that deer eyes look similar to human eyes. While a joyful activity, hunting (even permitted animals) has ethical ramifications: “The Huaorani must kill animals to live, but they believed dead animal spirits live on and must be placated or else do harm in angry retribution.” To counterbalance the offense of hunting, a shaman demonstrated respect through the ritual preparation of the poison, curare, used in blow darts. Hunting with such darts is not considered killing, but retrieving, essentially a kind of harvesting from the trees. Spearing wild peccaries, on the other hand, is killing and is practiced with violence and rage.
While never hunted, two other animals, the snake and the jaguar, have special significance for the Huaorani. Snakes are considered "the most evil force in the Huaorani cosmology", particularly the imposing (though nonvenemous) anaconda, or obe. A giant obe stands in the way of the forest trail that the dead follow to an afterlife with the creator in the sky. Here on earth, snakes are a bad omen, and traditionally killing them is considered taboo.
The Huaorani identify deeply with the jaguar, an important and majestic predator in the Oriente province of Ecuador. According to myth, the Huaorani were the descendants of a mating between a jaguar and an eagle. Elders became shamans by metaphorically adopting “jaguar sons” whose spirits communicate medical and spiritual knowledge. In the Huaorani belief system, jaguar shamans are able “to become a jaguar, and so to travel great distances telepathically and communicate with other Huaorani.”
Plants, especially trees, continue to hold a complex and important interest for the Huaorani. Their store of botanical knowledge is extensive, ranging from knowledge of materials to poisons to hallucinogens to medicines. They also relate plants to their own experiences, particularly that of growing. Among trees, certain kinds are auspicious. Canopy trees, with their distinctly colored young leaves and striking transformation as they mature to towering giants, are “admired for their solitary character … as well as for their profuse entanglement” with other plants. Other significant trees are the pioneer species of the peach palm (used for making spears and blowguns, as well as for fruit), and fast-growing balsa wood, used for ceremonial purposes. Peach palm trees are associated with past settlements and the ancestors who live there.
The Huaorani notion of time is particularly oriented to the present, with few obligations extending backwards or forwards in time. Their one word for future times, baane, also means "tomorrow". Spears are the main weapons of the Huaorani culture used in person to person conflict.
Their main hunting weapon is the blowgun. These weapons are typically from 3 to 4 metres long. The arrows used are dipped in curare poison, which paralyzes the muscles of the animal which is hit with it, so that it cannot breathe. Kapok fluff is used to create an air-tight seal, by twisting the fibers around the end of the dart or arrow. The pictures shows some huaorani , waiting monkeys for hunting.

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Lost In The Jungle (11 of 31)
Etaeto, Democratic Republic of Congo
By Piero Pomponi World Focus
10 Sep 2012

Kalibo Mandigo - Etaeto - Democratic Republic of Congo - September 10th, 2012

The hunt for precious coltan is killing Africa's dwindling Pygmy population. The village of Kalibo Mandigo, located in the Ituri rain forest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lies in the heart of an obscure war zone that few in the West know about. The densely forested expanse along a stretch of border between the nation once known as Zaire and Uganda, furnishes some 80 percent of planet's Columbite Tantalite, or "coltan," an ore that is an essential ingredient in the creation of the miniature Tantalum capacitors present in virtually all electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones and pagers. Coltan is panned for by hand in much the same way as gold during the California gold rush of the 19th century. The demand by major companies such as Nokia and Sony for coltan (Australia is the other major source) has made the Congo into a battleground for rogue miners, who enter the country, through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The number of Pygmies is in constant decline as a result of the border fighting. On the move constantly, the pygmies, who are considered inferior, face the wrath of Congolese troops and Rwandan raiders who cross the border seeking the coltan. They were victims of rape, murder and cannibalism. According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive evidence of mass killing, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is attributed to the rebel group, Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

The picture shows a pygmi family group, that has been survived to the rwandan rebel raid in the village.

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Kalasha People of Pakistan (18 of 18)
Chitral, Pakistan
By Jodi Hilton
01 Jul 2008

Kalash woman and girl look through the doors of a Kalash temple. Brun Village, Bumburet Valley, Chitral Region, Pakistan.

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Kalasha People of Pakistan (11 of 18)
Chitral, Pakistan
By Jodi Hilton
01 Jul 2008

Kalash girl and her grandmother. The Kalash believe themselves to be descended from Alexander the Great. Bumburet Valley.

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Kalasha People of Pakistan (2 of 18)
Chitral, Pakistan
By Jodi Hilton
01 Jul 2008

Zarifa, a Kalash teacher, instructing music and dance, Kalasadur School, Bumburet Valley.