174 imagesThis gallery features images included in the photo insert in the forthcoming book Himalaya Bound: One Family's Quest to Save Their Animals & an Ancient Way of Life - plus many more! The Van Gujjars are nomadic water buffalo herders who live in the forests and mountains of northern India. Traditionally, they dwell in the wilderness, where their world revolves around the feeding and well-being of their animals. They spend the winter months in the lowland jungles of the Shivalik Hills, where thick foliage provides plenty of fodder for the buffaloes. Each April, however, temperatures there soar above 110 degrees; the leaves and grasses wither and die; creeks run dry. With nothing left for their animals to eat or drink, the Van Gujjars must move. Entire families, from infants to the elderly, trek with their herds up into the Himalayas, where melting snows reveal lush alpine meadows laced by gurgling streams. When the cold sets in at the end of September, they head back down to the Shivaliks, where the jungle has sprung back to life following the monsoon rains. The tribe has followed this cycle of seasonal migration - up in summer, down in winter, shunning settled village life - for over a thousand years. Van Gujjars have deep personal relationships with their water buffaloes: they think of them as family members, like sons and daughters or brothers and sisters. They readily sacrifice their own comfort for that of their buffaloes. If a buffalo falls ill, Van Gujjars are wracked with concern; if one dies, they mourn for it as though it were human. They never eat their animals or sell them for slaughter, keeping them only for their milk – and though they are Muslim, they are also vegetarian, averse to the idea of killing living creatures. But things are changing. While about 30,000 Van Gujjars still live in the wilderness today, the existential challenges they face may drive nearly all of them out of the forests over the next couple of generations. The main threat to their way of life has been the designation of their traditional lands as national parks - from which the government has attempted, often successfully, to evict the nomads and settle them in villages, turning them into wheat farmers. In 2009, I embedded with one Van Gujjar family to document their annual spring migration. I lived with them for 44 days, walking with them, herding buffaloes with them, sharing their food, sleeping under their tents, and becoming much more a part of the family than I ever expected. I came to know them well – their joys and their troubles, their hopes and fears for the future, and their perspectives on their place in the world. This photo gallery - and the book, Himalaya Bound - offer an intimate glimpse into a rarely-seen, endangered world of forest-dwelling nomads.