An ancient tribe that knows little of the world outside their rainforest home is close to being wiped out by Christian missionaries.
Amateur photographer Maxim Russkikh, 36, from Moscow, Russia, spent 15 days trying to find the Korowai people of south eastern Papua New Guinea.
As they trekked more than 75 miles into the forest they came across many abandoned Korowai settlements, and could only find two in the massive expanse of jungle.
There are only around 3,000 Korowai remaining and Maxim thinks their way of life is being stamped out by Christian missionaries and the Indonesian government who wish to force their culture upon them.
He said: ‘Korowai also known as Kolufo – is the mysterious tribe of south eastern Papua who lives in the least explored jungles in the world and has had little contact with the outside world.
‘Christian missionaries, who have been making contact with tribes for five hundred years, are still trying to do so today.
‘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.
‘Hundreds of Korowai have moved already from the jungles to newly constructed missionary settlements and more are coming.’
‘The missionaries think that the tribes are primitive and living pitiful lives in the dark and their ultimate aim is to convert them to Christianity.’
Maxim added: ‘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.’
‘The first documented contact by scientists took place in 1974. Korowai people are generally hunter-gatherers, they must share everything they hunt or gather in order to survive including the living space.
‘Korowai people live in clans that usually consist of two to three tree houses in one forest cleared site, securing the territory of up-to 50 sq km. Usually from five to eight people live in the tree house at one time.
‘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 harvested 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.’
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