For the Shekacho peoples of Ethiopia, the forest is sacred. It is their life, soul and lungs, says Dakito Atestata, leader of the Shekacho clan. The Sheka forest of which Atestat speaks is located in south-west Ethiopia and is one of the last tracts of tropical forest in the country. Uniquely rich in biodiversity, leopards, lions, antelopes and 55 rare plant species share the space with a myriad of other flora and fauna. The song of countless birds - ten of which are endemic - is the soundtrack of the forest. Many of the trees are holy sites for the Shekacho. But ever-encroaching human settlements are threatening the forest's survival. Now the Ethiopian NGO Melca is providing the local population with alternative sustainable livelihood solutions. With funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the NGO enables people to earn additional income through beekeeping or steer fattening to keep them from exploiting the unique ecosystem that is the Sheka forest.
A film by Wolf Gebhardt