Travel and documentary photographer Andrew Newey recently went on a journey of central Nepal, and he spent 14 days living amongst the Gurung tribes’ people in order to witness and photograph the traditional art of honey hunting. Newey is an award-winning UK-based photographer, and he was able to document riveting images of the central Nepalese Gurung tribe members while they were in the process of doing the perilous and ancient honey hunting activity.
In this series, Newey graphically shows the dangers involved with this tradition, which few have ever witnessed. Requiring great skill passed through many generations while suspended unsteadily on rope ladders, honey hunters put their lives at risk just to gather the honey. Armed with long sticks called tangos, they use this difficult to control tool to knock the honeycomb off the Himalayan Cliffside, skillfully maneuvering them into baskets that are on the ground.
They point these long sharp bamboo poles for cutting the honey-filled hives. But first, they must light fires at the bottom of the cliff to create billows of smoke to ferret out the bees, and then they climb their ladders and gather the honey.
Shot in amazing detail, these photographs give the outside world a look into the Gurung honey hunters’ way of life. The series also serves as a lasting record for this fading tradition. The practice of honey hunting is dwindling due to many things like the the lessening number of honeybees because of climate change as well as the declining number of honey hunters since the younger generation seems disinterested in the tradition.
It also does not help that the government has opened honey-harvesting rights to entrepreneurs rather than to local tribe’s people so that honey can be exported, fetching high prices in China, Japan and Korea. The commercialization and offering of “honey hunt tours” to visitors has also contributed to the reduction of resources left for traditional honey hunters to gather.
See Newey’s incredible shots of the vanishing practice here.