Deep in the tropical rainforests of West Africa and Central Africa, a special Aboriginal tribe has quietly lived and survived for centuries . At the same time, they are often known as Baka, or Bayaka and their extremely small physique - even when they reach adulthood.
Freelance photographer and journalist Susan Schulman decided to stop at the tribe to record pictures of their daily lives.
Ms. Schulman said: "Baka people live scattered in 9 different countries in Africa with a total area of 1.78 million km2. Like many other dwarfs , they often hunt, gather and immersing yourself in nature as a habit cannot be ignored for hundreds of years. "
In addition, the Baka ethnic group must use the unique survival skills to adapt to numerous difficulties in this tropical rain forest environment.
The reason why Schulman was interested in life here came from her best friend. Accordingly, Louis Sarno spent more than 30 years living with a small tribe in the tropical forest in Central African Republic.
Louis Sarno also contacted non-governmental organizations operating in the area to help the Baka get the medicines and medical supplies necessary to maintain survival.
"Nearly half of the children here cannot live more than 5 years old. If I leave, I think I will not dare to return again. I am afraid to face the harsh truth because of the average life expectancy of the ethnic group. Baka is only about 40 " , Mr. Sarno shared.
In addition to medical support, Mr. Sarno also serves as a teacher, translator, host and repairer for the community of more than 600 people.
Explaining the reasons for choosing to live with the Baka tribe in such a deprived condition, Mr. Sarno said he fell in love with the rainforests as soon as he was busy playing hide and seek in the sparse garden behind the house.
Besides, he is a very interested in music and eventually became a professional music researcher.
"When I overheard a song of the Baka clan on the radio, I decided to look for them to be able to listen to that particular music. However , I suddenly felt very excited when I lived. between the majestic nature, so choose to stay, " said Mr. Sarno.
In the memoir entitled "Songs from the jungle - My life between the Ba-Benjellé dwarfs" was published in 1993, Mr. Sarno wrote the headline: "A song brought me to heart of Africa " . And that is the special music that comes from Baka people.
Schulman once said: "It is unimaginable that complex pieces of music can be produced by the voices of 40 women and the sound of 4 men patting water. It's miraculous!"
The Baka people often use this wonderful music as a "permission" to the god Bobee before every hunt. They believe that by doing so, the god of the forest will bless the hunters to be safe and can earn enough prey to supply to their tribes.
Besides wild fruits, Baka people often eat monkey meat or antelope meat or hunt in the forest. But in the last few years, their food resources have been declining due to hunting and deforestation of outsiders.
"Professional hunters often hunt at night. They shoot bright bullets that cause many wild animals to be stunned and use a hunting rifle to finish them off. The Baka's nets and spears cannot compete with modern equipment. " The uncontrolled hunting and deforestation activities have seriously reduced resources inside the forest, greatly affecting the lives of Baka people , " Ms. Schulman said.
Most of the hunters come from the Bantu tribe who live nearby. The Bantu are an ethnic majority in this area and have had an unhappy past with the Baka people.
Historically, due to their low body size, Baka people were often considered by Bantu people to be inferior, in other words, the class deserved to be dominated.
"Although the awareness between the two tribes is gradually improving, the Baka people still face very severe stigma. In the past few decades, they have always been closed because they do not want to conflict with the tribes. other, " said Mr. Sarno.
The Bantu activities gradually made Baka unable to live on the forest, many young people had to leave the tribe in search of livelihoods in the majority of Bantu towns.
Schulman stressed: "Young people here are being forced to change. If the wild animals inside the jungle get less and less, they cannot live on the forest. If they want to continue living in the forest. they could only take on hired hunting jobs with cheap salaries from outside Bantu people, and they often refused to pay the promised wages. "
Therefore, the younger generation of the Banka ethnic group only has to leave the forest to be able to survive and cope with the long and difficult life ahead.