If it weren’t caught on camera, it would be difficult to believe. In Nigeria, handlers can be seen performing circus shows with deadly beasts such as hyenas and venomous snakes. This nomadic tribe first caught the attention of photographer, Pieter Hugo, who traveled to Nigeria to observe and record the acts of these men. The men depend on the hyenas to make a living in areas desolated by poverty. Like a scene from a movie, men dance with hyenas that perform tricks while baboons in soccer jersey collect money from an audience.
These nomads who are notoriously difficult to locate believe that they possess special powers to tame wild animals. They trap hyenas, reptiles, and baboons from the wild before using traditions passed down from one generation to the next to tame them. All the handlers are related and believe it is their calling and duty to control these animals. Children begin handling the animals from an early age, which is rooted in their deep belief that they are spiritually connected to the animals. While it is unclear how long this tradition has been going on for, the techniques utilized are secretive, only being taught to those in the family. For more information, check out the documentary from Barcroft Animals below: