Gamo Highlands, Ethiopia
Elders manage a fertile ecosystem much as their ancestors did 5,000 years ago, through rituals, sacrifice, and councils of elders. Now dramatic population increases result in encroachment on small forests, hilltops, and meadows that were traditionally protected by customary laws and taboos. Those protections are giving way, leaving biodiversity and ancient cultures vulnerable.
The traditional culture has co-existed with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for 2,000 years, but Protestant fundamentalism is rising. In deliberate acts of spiritual warfare, missionaries and converts cut down sacred groves to build churches in their place. One confrontation at an annual ceremony turns into a riot with local police firing rifles in the air as rocks are thrown and participants are forced to flee.