The level of devastation will blow your mind.
The brutality of Borneo’s logging industry.
The logging industry is having devastating effects on Borneo’s unique rainforest ecosystem. I’ve seen this destruction first hand and it’s heart-breaking to see ancient rainforest reduced to wasteland.
Borneo is the world's third largest island totalling 1% of the world's land mass and contains approximately 6% of worldwide biodiversity. The island has already lost over half its rainforests and over the last 30 years the rate of deforestation has accelerated pushed by rapid industrialization. The logging industry is largely responsible for the destruction but the picture is complicated by illegal logging and a drive to clear rainforest for lucrative palm oil plantations. With deforestation comes habitat destruction which impacts dramatically on animal populations and many species are being pushed to extinction. While progress has been made in protecting high profile animals such as the orang-utan more support is needed by the global community if Borneo’s unique primary rainforest is to be saved for future generations. Not only are animals under threat but the indigenous people are suffering in particular the Iban tribe whose lives are intrinsically linked to the forests rivers.
The Iban tribe are part of the Dayak peoples of Malaysian Borneo. The majority of Ibans’ are located in the Sarawak region in the north west of the country. In ancient times the Iban were regarded as renowned warriors and feared head-hunters. The first European Christian missionaries brought back with them stories of human sacrifice, devil worship and cannibalism. These embellished stories of savagery and barbarism pushed the missionaries to subvert the Ibans’ tradition beliefs with western ideals. As a result the majority of modern Ibans’ are Christians but the many still practice the old ways and there is a push to keep traditional culture alive and relevant for the next generation. Tattooing is a key part of their historic belief system and tattoos most often represents significant life events or are used to bestow magical protection. Warriors are allowed to have their necks tattooed if they have killed an enemy and despite the spread of Christianity in the more remote regions of Borneo tribal warfare and head hunting still erupts from time to time.
This is why I want to go back to Borneo to document traditional hand tapped tattooing before it is lost forever and to meet with tribal leaders to discuss how best to protect Iban art and the people who nurture these traditions.
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