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The Last Hunters and Gatherers of the Himalayas



The Last Hunters and Gatherers of the Himalayas, photo essay by Jan Møller Hansen.

The nomadic Rautes are the last hunters and gatherers of the Himalayas. The Rautes, who call themselves Kings of Forests, subsist on langur and macaque monkeys, wild yams, rice and a few kinds of vegetables traded from local farmers. Their main occupation is to trade and exchange of wooden items in nearby villages and bazaars. They migrate from river valleys up to middle hills in the Western parts of Nepal living in temporary camps hidden away from the villages in remote parts of the forests.

The nomadic Rautes belong to nowhere and everywhere, and they have their own language, culture and beliefs. The Rautes believe in the sun god Berh that represents eternity. The Rautes has managed to avoid forcible assimilation and have not settled in villages and adopted Hindu beliefs and practices. Rather they continue their traditional life travelling through the forests of Western Nepal.

The Rautes continue to maintain a certain degree of secrecy and avoidance towards assimilation in order to keep their identity and to survive as a distinct community. Today, the nomadic Rautes total around 156 people. (Jan Møller Hansen)

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