The roughly 1,000 members of the Mikea people are Madagascar’s last hunters and gatherers.
Yet the island nation’s dependence on charcoal for cooking may destroy their home, the dry Mikea Forest, much of which is a national park.
Their entire culture — including their food sources, medicines and religion — is dependent on their namesake forest, which is being illegally logged to make charcoal.
To create charcoal, live trees are cut and then burned in kilns — causing massive damage to the environment, and an added risk of wildfires in Madagascar’s arid south region.
Little is being done by outside actors to stop the charcoal gathering, leaving it up to Mikea leaders themselves to confront illegal woodcutters and try to convince them to stop.
Faced with food shortages, many are considering leaving the forest and their traditional way of life.