Breathtaking Pictures Reveal Indigenous Cultures Across The Globe At Risk Of Extinction

These eye-opening and beautiful photographs offer an insight into the lives of some of the planet's last indigenous peoples.

Photographer Jimmy Nelson has travelled the globe for decades, spending time with remote and diverse communities.

From Siberia to Tanzania, his pictures offer a rare glimpse of indigenous cultures that face the very real threat of being consigned to the history books in the 21st century.

By sharing his photographic project, entitled 'Blink and They're Gone', Mr Nelson hopes to raise awareness of the importance of preserving these cultures.

Do you ever think, 'forget this 9 to 5, I wanna be sat on a horse on top of a mountain with all my mates and an eagle'? Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson
Do you ever think, 'forget this 9 to 5, I wanna be sat on a horse on top of a mountain with all my mates and an eagle'? Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

He said: "If we let the cultural identity of the indigenous people disappear now, it will be lost forever.

"It's literally a case of blink, and they're gone.

"And if this happens, we will lose one of the most valuable assets we have - our rich human cultural diversity and heritage."

Mr Nelson went to extremes to capture the striking photographs. In the Yamal Peninsula in northern Russia, he braved - 50C temperatures with the Nenets, who wear huge furs to protect themselves in the elements.

Mr Nelson braved freezing temperatures to capture this photograph in the Yamal Peninsula. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson
Mr Nelson braved freezing temperatures to capture this photograph in the Yamal Peninsula. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

In Chad, he documented the Wodaabe men's judgement at the Gerewol festival. By contrast to Western culture, the men wear make-up and adorn dresses to impress female judges as part of a beauty pageant.

The Wodaabe men await their judgement at the Gerewol festival. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson
The Wodaabe men await their judgement at the Gerewol festival. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

Another photograph depicts the Huli wigmen, who live in the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their bold yellow face-paint contrasts starkly with the green foliage of the forest around them.

Mr Nelson has spent decades travelling the globe and spending time with indigenous peoples. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson
Mr Nelson has spent decades travelling the globe and spending time with indigenous peoples. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

As awe-inspiring as the photographs are, Mr Nelson has previously been criticised by anthropologists for the self-professed 'aspirational and stylised way' he presents these cultures.

But Mr Nelson has defended his style, arguing that his photographs could help to send a powerful message.

Mr Nelson hopes his pictures will help preserve indigenous cultures. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson
Mr Nelson hopes his pictures will help preserve indigenous cultures. Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

He said: "Our collective cultural identity is too valuable to be destroyed by homogenisation.

"The depth and wealth of our humanity will shrink. This must not happen.

"We must unify and fight to support indigenous cultures and take personal pride in the myriad of their cultural traditions that are still to be found on the planet today."

Mr Nelson is hoping the short film constructed from his photographs will play a part in a wider movement to preserve the cultures of indigenous peoples.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS/Jimmy Nelson

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University before going to live in Australia and New Zealand for a few years, where he wrote a travel blog. He has previously written for the Eastern Daily Press, Giggle Beats, CALM and Front Magazine. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

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