Before They Pass Away: A Photographer Races After Vanishing Tribes

By Jane Hwang - 2014-01-07T15:48:54Z

Photograph by Jimmy Nelson BV courtesy teNeues

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The Samburu of Kenya

The Samburu pastoral community inhabits the northern plains of Kenya and moves when the cattle, camels, goats and sheep need fresh pasture and water. They are the original breeders of indigenous livestock such as East African Zebu Cattle and Maasai Sheep. 

A June 2013 study conducted by Kenyatta University on the traditional methods used by the Samburu found that "livestock is the mainstay of the economy in the Samburu society. It is also the major medium of exchange and  food during social-cultural occasions including marriage, circumcision, religious sacrifices and cultural exchange  or compensation. The number of livestock one hold indicates the wealth of a family." 

The study concludes that "protected areas and the presence of wild animal populations inflict costs on local indigenous communities and can wear down community support and tolerance. In turn, indigenous people (the locals) can develop a negative attitude towards reserves and wildlife, exacerbating the conflict and undermining conservation efforts."

Left: Morans, or warriors, wear red ocher paste to shield themselves from the sun. They are charged with guarding the herds and defending them against predators.