Life among the monkey hunters: The Amazon tribe that eats primates they have learned to catch by climbing trees and shooting them with blowpipes
The Huaorani tribe – there are only 4,000 of them – live a simple life in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador
They live off the land, shooting blowpipes to kill monkeys, which they then skin and roast over open fires
They also eat peccary pigs and toucans as well as plants and herbs which they have foraged in the forests
In 1990 the Ecuadorean government set up the Waorani Ethnic Reserve to protect the forest they live in
Photographer Pete Oxford said: ‘One of my greatest joys is spending time with people unlike myself’
There are no fast food restaurants or grocery stores in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador, so if the Huaorani people want to eat they go out with a blowpipe and shoot a monkey.
They are experts at shinning up trees and lying in wait for the primates, which they kill with poisoned darts fired from blowpipes.
Monkey meat is a staple of their diet, which also includes peccary pigs and toucans aswell as plants and herbs foraged in the forest by the women.
A Huaorani hunter shins up a tree and shoots a blowpipe dart at a monkey
A good day’s work: To Western eyes it might seem cruel but for the Huaorani hunting monkeys (left) is really no different to British people hunting pheasants or rabbits. Their diet consists of monkeys, toucans and peccaries (right), a type of wild pig which are widespread in Latin America
The Huaorani live not far from the Rio Napo, which eventually flows into the mighty Amazon in neighbouring Peru.
British photographer Pete Oxford, who took these images, said: ‘The Huaorani Indians are a forest people highly in tune with their environment.
‘Today they face radical change to their culture to the proximity of oil exploration within their territory and the Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve, they are vastly changed.
Bringing home the bacon: A hunter is welcomed by the women and children of the village as brings back a peccary pig, which will be roasted over an open fire
‘They still largely hunt with blow pipes and spears eating a lot of monkeys and peccaries.’
The Huaorani, who are sometimes referred to as Waorani or Waos, are a native Amerindian tribe whose language bears no relation to any other tongue, not even Quechua, which is widely spoken in Ecuador.
Mr Oxford said: ‘In my lifetime, the world has witnessed a massive shrinking in world cultures and indigenous knowledge. We are all homogenising to the same thing. To me that is distressing.
‘One of my greatest joys is spending time with people unlike myself. I am very conscious that when I visit a “foreign” tribe it is I, not them who are foreign.’
Ecuador is home to 300 species of monkey, none of which are endangered. The monkeys eat the forest’s vegetation
Call the chiropodist: The Huaorani spend a lot of time climbing up trees and it does enormous damage to their feet
The Huaorani also hunt and eat toucans (pictured, left) but this parrot has become a parrot, rather than dinner (right)
Pete Oxford (pictured) said: ‘I was accepted and everything that was theirs was mine to share. Unfortunately, I could not reciprocate and stayed in a small tent on which I had to put a small padlock. For a Huaorani, my computer cables were excellent tethers to tie up a dead peccary but for me represented being able to work or not’
Children watch from a hammock as a Huaorani woman cooks a peccary. Peccaries are found throughout Latin America
A man constructs a necklace out of bird’s feathers. The tribe make some money by selling handicrafts to tourists
Like many South American tribes the Huaorani are in the habit of stretching their earlobes and then wearing ear-rings made of bone or wood. The fashion is popular with men and women
Pete Oxford said: ‘We are all homogenising to the same thing. To me that is distressing and I aim to record as many ancient cultures as possible for the sake of posterity’