By Freya Coombes

THESE STUNNING images show the incredible bond between the Mundari people and theur cattle in South Sudan.

One image shows a child of the Mundari camp covered in white dust and soot, carrying dried leather from the cattle, used to feed the fires in the camp. The children work from a young age to develop a symbiotic bond with the ecosystem of the camp, sleeping with the cattle.

The bonding with the cattle starts young.

The Mundari tribe are cattle herders who live as one with their cattle. The children of the camp do most of the work, collecting fresh cow dung to set on fire. This repels the flies and mosquitoes. The ash from the fires is rubbed on members of the tribe and the cattle to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

The cattle are heavily protected, using Kalashnikov rifles, AK-47s and pitchforks to guard against cattle rustlers. The cattle are valued highly and are the tribes’ source of wealth. When young men are married, their dowry extends as high as 40 cattle.

These images were captured by photographer Trevor Cole (66) in Terekeka Country in South Sudan using a Nikon D850 camera.

The cattle of the Mundari tribe.

“The Mundari are friendly and enjoy being photographed. The dust and smoke intermingle to create an inimitable atmosphere,” said Trevor.

“We arrived in the late afternoon when the light was soft and warm with long shadows.

“The Ankole Watusi cattle have the largest horns (perhaps a metre long in some cases) I have ever seen and the biggest of the cattle may be worth $500.

“During the day the cattle disperse from the banks of the Nile into the long grasses of the alluvial floodplain. They return at dusk instinctively.”

This member of the tribe rubs ash on the horns of the cattle.

“Shooting at dawn and dusk is perfect as all the cattle are in place. The more you see, the more you realise that there is an inextricable bond between the tribe and their cattle. The way they lead them, rub ash into their skins, attend to their needs, use their milk, dung and urine,” said Trevor.

“They take pride in their animals and the whole community of man and beast is interconnected. I have never seen anything like it.

A little boy riding his cow.

“I think it is very difficult to look at an image and imagine how it really is. The heat, smoke and ash create challenging conditions and so too camping close to the villages and camps. In most cases there is a sense of amazement as it is simply so different to life in the Western World.”