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Tariq Zaidi visited South Sudan, the newest and arguably most unstable nation in the world, where he photographed the little-documented Mundari tribe.

Since conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, at least 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed, 2.2 million have been displaced and parts of the country have been pushed to the brink of famine. Amid this humanitarian crisis, the nomadic Mundari people continue to herd their cattle across the banks of the Nile, dealing with the threat of unexploded landmines and violent cattle raids from neighbouring tribes.

Each year in South Sudan, about 350,000 cows and bulls are stolen and more than 2500 people are killed by cattle rustlers.
It is hard to overstate the importance of cattle to the Mundari people. Their animals are everything - wealth, status, sustenance and dowry - and they guard them with their lives. They farm a breed of cattle called Ankole-Watusi – a distinctive white animal with curved horns, also known as ‘the cattle of kings’.

With a single cow or bull worth up to $500, it’s not surprising that Mundari men stand watch over their herd with rifles, despite a recent attempt by the government to disarm warring tribes.

“Their cows are the most important thing in their lives,” says Zaidi. “And they will protect them at all costs.”

©Tariq Zaidi Photography. All Rights Reserved.