A photographer told of his horror after two members of the generally-peaceful Suri tribe in Ethiopia held him and his daughter at gunpoint in a horrific robbery ordeal.
Geography teacher-turned photographer Trevor Cole, 64, said one tribesman pointed a Kalashnikov while another brandished a machete at him, his 20-year-old daughter and another photographer during a visit to the Omo Valley.
A guide was able to pay off the men – who were drunk on locally-brewed alcohol Araki – in local currency.
Due to nearby war, weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles and Kalashnikovs have become quite commonplace in Suri communities – and there is very little intervention from Ethiopian authorities.
Mr Cole said: ‘The Suri tribesmen, two of them, were under the influence of Araki, a locally brewed alcohol, and were intent on robbery. I was with one other photographer and my daughter, who was 20 at the time, so they were tense moments.
‘My guide and good friend, however, was excellent and we managed to pay them off with local currency.
‘The Suri tribe are in general not aggressive even though they are armed in many cases with AK47s and Kalashnikovs.
‘These are to stop other tribes taking their livestock and also for occasional intertribal conflicts. They sometimes get aggressive when they drink the Araki and it is then that there is the greatest risk.
The Omo Valley is home to eight different tribes with a collective population of 200,000 people.
Geography teacher-turned photographer Trevor Cole, 64, captured a series of incredible images of Suri tribespeople on his travels. Pictured: Some members of the Suri tribe wear intricate face paint
Members of Ethiopia’s Suri tribe showcase their breathtaking face paint in a stunning images captured in the Omo Valley
Members of the Suri tribe in Ethiopia are generally peaceful, but have been known to carry weapons. Left: A tribe member in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia carrying a weapon. Right: Members of the Suri tribe drain blood from a cow
Due to nearby war, weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles and Kalashnikovs have become quite commonplace in Suri communities – and there is very little intervention from Ethiopian authorities. Pictured: Suri tribesmen with guns
The Omo Valley is home to eight different tribes with a collective population of 200,000 people. Pictured: Suri tribespeople with guns
A Suri farmer carries a gun as he herds his goats. Tribespeople have been known to carry weapons amid widespread cattle raiding and nearby wars
Two children are photographed posing with their orange and white face paint as they huddle together in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley
Suri tribeswomen wear lip plates measuring up to 24 inches – often in a bid to help attract a wealthy husband
In some cases, girls have their two lower teeth removed and their bottom lip sliced at the age of 12 in order to squeeze in the huge clay plate
Farmers in the Suri tribe pose with their cattle in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. The Suri tribe are generally welcoming to visitors as they look for different means to survive amid rising violence and land wars
Suri tribespeople pose with their intricate floral headpieces and breathtaking face paint. The artistry is often shown to tourists
Mr Cole said one tribesman pointed a Kalashnikov while another brandished a machete at him, his 20-year-old daughter and another photographer during a visit to the Omo Valley. Pictured: Some of Mr Cole’s images of the Suri tribe
Speaking about the inspiration behind his breathtaking photographs (pictured), Mr Cole explained: ‘My photography, together with travel, have become two of my life’s passions. It focuses predominantly on culture and landscapes; images which reflect a spatial and temporal journey through life and which try to convey a need to live in a more sustainable world’
Mr Cole captured an image of a Suri child with an intricate floral headpiece along with red and white spotted face paint
A woman with a lip plate decorated in the same pattern as her face paint was photographed (left). A young child was pictured staring into the camera (right)
Children wearing beautiful head pieces and intricate face paint were photographed by Mr Cole on his travels in Ethiopia
Mr Cole – who photographed this series of breathtaking images – said: ‘I seek the moment and the light in whatever context I find myself and endeavour to use my photographic acumen to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary’
A woman with a clay lip plate and floral head piece can be seen in Omo Valley (left). A young man with white and black face paint looks into the camera (right)
Two people with face paint look into the camera in Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Mr Cole describes his photography as ‘quite diverse in the sense that I love to shoot images of nature but at the same time people’
Mr Cole said: ‘I always like to think that humans are inextricably connected to their environment, hence I love to shoot people and landscapes. People adapt to climates and landscapes, therefore they are a reflection of their natural habitats and this contributes to the immense diversity of humankind on this Earth’
Mr Cole said: ‘Sadly, globalisation is reducing diversity and homogenising culture. I love to travel to more remote areas to see people in their true environmental contexts.’ Pictured: Some of the photographer’s images of the Suri tribe