- The Korowai people live high above the forest floor in West Papua in Indonesia in an incredibly remote area
- It is estimated the Korowai population is around 3,000 people with some tribes now living in regular villages
- The Korowai are hunter-gatherers and are known to be excellent fishermen with their improvised weapons
- Anthropologists believe claims of cannibalism might be exaggerated to support the tourism industry
It’s thought that until 1970, the mysterious Korowai tribe of south eastern Papua, Indonesian New Guinea, were unaware of the existence of any other people on earth.
Living as remotely as they do – perched up in the canopy of the least explored jungles in the world – it’s quite plausible.
The tribe are known for their distinctive treehouses that tower over the jungle on spindly stilts, originally designed to avoid attacks from rival clans intent on capturing people for slavery or even cannibalism.
The Korowai people of west Papua in the Indonesian province of Papua never met outsiders until the 1970s
The Korowai men do not use helmets or other forms of safety equipment when constructing their tree houses
The tribe were accused of cannibalism although there is no firm evidence of them eating human flesh
Instead, the tribe, who live in trees more than 30 feet in the sky, are known to eat larvae scavenged from the forest
The candid photographs were taken by photographer Eric Baccega as he visited the tribe.
There are thought to be around 3,000 members of the tribe.
The Korowai adhere to age old tradition, sharing myths, folktales, sayings and charms to this day, and believe that their dead ancestors can return to land of the living at any time.
Some clans are said to fear Westerners, having never seen them, and outsiders are called ‘ ghost demons’.
The first documented contact with the Western world was when a group of scientists met with members of one clan in March, 1974.
In May 2006, tour-guide and reporter Paul Raffaele led an Australian TV crew to meet the tribe.
The crew claimed that they were approached by a man who told them his six-year old nephew had been accused of being a witch doctor and was in danger of being cannibalised.
In an article for Smithsonian, Raffaele said: ‘Korowai are among the very few tribes believed to eat human flesh.
‘Most Korowai still live with little knowledge of the world beyond their homelands and frequently feud with one another. Some are said to kill and eat male witches they call “khakhua”.’
Anthropologists suspect that cannibalism is no longer practised by the Korowai clans.
The majority of the Korowai continue to live in tree houses although some have moved into villages
The Korowai are primarily hunter-gatherers although they also practice shifting cultivation and are excellent fishermen
The tribe go about their daily business without wearing any clothes using basic weapons to kill their food
The tribe cut ‘steps into the poles leading up to their home to make it slightly easier to clamber up the tree
Despite living in a wooden house, built at the top of a tree, the tribe use fire for heating and cooking
These images were taken 17 years ago by photographer Eric Baccega as he visited the isolated tribe