Hunter-gatherers offer the closest existing examples of human lifestyles and social organization in the past, offering vital insights into human evolutionary history. The Mbendjele or BaYaka live in the western Congo basin. Some fifteen to twenty thousand Mbendjele are estimated to live as hunter-gatherers in the rainforest bordering Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
They have sophisticated traditions of choral music, myth and ritual, and a deep knowledge of the forest and its inhabitants. Although increasingly under pressure from logging and conservation interests to abandon their hunting and gathering lifestyle, they maintain great pride in their way of life.