Answer by Rory Young:
The most resourceful man I have ever met had nothing. He didn't own a damn thing. In fact, neither did his wives or children. They didn't need to own things. When they needed, they confidently went out and got what they wanted and returned happily to enjoy it.
Old Ba'aka hunter near Bayanga in Centralfrican Republic.
I have been priveledged to observe and interact with people in many countries, from many classes and backgrounds and in many professions. Everywhere I have been I have met resourceful people. Yet none can compare to the traditional hunter-gatherers. Being resourceful is their way of life.
Young Ba'aka pygmy girl. I took this picture at a mission where, a few days later, Anti-balaka fighters dragged muslim men out of a building where a Polish Catholic priest had been bravely hiding them, and then cut them to pieces. The Ba'aka who lived in the mission area fled into the forest, taking with them a young Polish volunteer woman, whom they kept safe until the Anti-balaka moved on.
Most recently in the Central African Republic I was over-awed and inspired by the Ba'aka pygmies hunt for their food in the rain forest. In spite of the ethnic war had come to them, they had continued in their uniquely cheerful way to live their full lives with nothing any "modern" man or woman would consider indispensible to comfortable living or even necessary for basic survival.
I was priveleged to spend time these two Ba'aka gorilla trackers, tracking a habituated gorilla group.
They do not just survive in forest, they absolutely thrive there, only struggling in areas where their world has been invaded and changed by outsiders.
Alpha male Western Lowland Gorilla inin CAR.
In February this year I sneaked into the South Western part of CAR, via Cameroon, and was able to spend some time with the Ba'aka there. I found that the most harmless people in the world live amongst some of the most dangerous people in the world, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Little angels with sharpened teeth and tattoo'ed faces..
and his family, with other Ba'aka out net hunting.
I tracked gorillas with them and learned some amazing tips for my own work. They are incredible in the forest, not dominating it, but a real and balanced part of their ecosystem. Their resourcefulness really showed when I followed them on a traditional net-hunt. This is a team effort. A group of men an women will use clever techniques to catch animals in hand-made bark nets. I watched them direct a wild blue duiker with sound, alternately making it run or stop by using different calls. I have never seen anything like it.
The Ba'aka are facing terrible odds right now. The wildlife in the forest that sustains them and that their traditional culture would preserve, is being wiped out. The warfare has forced them to move from their traditional areas, often into primal forest in other countries and worst of all they have been hunted, killed and even eaten by rebel groups.
I was honoured to meetwho has devoted his life to helping the Ba'aka. He has lived with them as a leader, helper, healer and friend for decades, giving up everything to do so. I look forward to one day seeing him and his Ba'aka family again.
I can only live in hope of being able to spend time with them again and that more importantly they will be left in peace in their natural home.