Aitor Lara – Baka, Guardians of the Forest.

A baka pygmie woman cooks inside her mongulu hut in the village of Ndjibot, Dja Faunal Reserve.

Lara Aitor

Baka, Guardians of the Forest

The Baka, indigenous peoples of Cameroon, are facing a serious departure from their traditional way of life due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle that has been forced upon them for years. They were expelled from their ancestral lands, which have been turned into protected areas of the Dja Faunal Reserve and into concessions granted to transnational companies that exploit natural resources such as gold, iron and wood. However, the Baka People see themselves as the guardians of the forest.

The economic development policies of the Cameroon government have focused on mining, wood and extensive agriculture of mono-crops such as oil palm and rubber, causing the progressive disappearance of the rainforest. This has all triggered an accelerated loss of the collective identity of the Baka community, which is driving them toward alcoholism, malnutrition and the proliferation of diseases like HIV and AIDS.

Profoundly disoriented, settled at the gate of the rainforest, the Baka people are deprived of the fundamental right to property of their own land, as recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.

This essay was Shortlisted for the EPF 2016





Spain, 1974. Based in Sevilla, Spain. Background in Philosophy. Aitor´s professional career began in 1999 upon receiving the photography award from Spanish gallerist Juana de Aizpuru, and participating in international fairs such as ARCO and ParisPhoto. In 2004, he received the Ruy de Clavijo grant from Casa Asia to carry out a project in Uzbekistan. His work has appeared in magazines such as NewsWeek, CNN, NBC, Financial Times, Ojo de Pez, Vokrug Sveta. He has published four books: Maestranza (2007),Tower of Silence (Casa Asia, 2008), Ronda Goyesca and PHotoBolsillo (La Fábrica, 2012, 2015). His photographic report about the bullring of Seville has been exhibited at the front of the FNAC building in Seville since 2009. He has received the ENDESA Grant for Art in 2013 and the PhotoEspaña Ojo de Pez Award of Human Values in 2014 for Save the Children report on Spain´s child poverty crisis. Honorable mention of UNICEF Photo of the Year 2014.


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Lara Aitor

1 Responses to “Aitor Lara – Baka, Guardians of the Forest.”

  • Fascinating work, Lara. The loss of indigenous cultures has always saddened me, and we’ve seen it everywhere.

    The use of b&w here is strong and draws me in. The dugout canoe should be in a museum. I also like the shot of the man dancing under the influence.

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