Different countries value different things. For example, in America, we hold money and independence close to our hearts. We are the land of the free … entrepreneur. Our constant quest for profit seems to be above everything else. We value palm oil more than forests, the convenience of plastic more than the ocean, and the potential profits from our food system more than animal lives. Despite the fact that animals play such a large part in our overall ecosystem, if any outside source were to look at the way humans interact with animals, it wouldn’t be surprising if they thought the exact opposite. We subject animals like cows, chickens, and pigs, to horrific conditions on factory farms. We confine them spaces so small they have trouble moving, we handle them brutishly, and at the end of the day, we slaughter them.
Not all animals are treated in such a horrible manner, though. Take the cows from South Sudan, for example.
Under the guardianship of the Mundari tribe, these cows are treated like kings. To tribe members, cattle are the most prized possession, worth up to $500 each, and are guarded by members with guns.
Each cow is so highly prized that they are rarely killed for meat. Instead, they are seen for their medicinal value, as a form of currency, a symbol of status, and a friend.
The cows are some of the most pampered in the world. Tariq Zaidi, the photographer behind these incredible images, witnessed Mundari members massaging the animals twice a day.
The level of devotion and care the Mundari tribe gives these animals is truly amazing. It’s evident that they see cattle as a supremely important part of their way of life.
Tribe members sleep among their cattle, usually close to their favorite ones. The ashes from dung fires are rubbed on the cows as a bedding of sorts.
Mundari members always have the cattle’s best interest in mind. Since the country is in a state of war, pasture for the animals to graze is limited. Instead, members urge cattle to cross the Nile to get to an island where they can graze in peace.
While we are still a ways away from treating the cattle in America with the same level of respect as this tribe, getting a peek into their culture allows us to truly reflect on ours. If these folks can survive without harming these animals, why can’t we?
All Images Source: Tariq Zaidi