Photo: Brazilian Native tribes in Danger
A Brazilian NGO has released a set of very detailed aerial photographs of an uncontacted indigenous tribe that lives deep in the Amazon, commonly referred to as the “Lost Tribe” in efforts to denounce the danger they face from Peruvian loggers.
The NGO Survival International took and released the pictures, which depict indigineous men, women and children, with faces daubed with vivid red and black natural pigments, armed with spears and bows and arrows, staring in awe up to the aircraft photographing them.
The pictures are evidence of their existence, an uncontacted tribe that is prosperous and healthy; there are baskets full of a variety of yucca/cassava and fruits like papaya and bananas, as well as containers of vegetables, fish and game covered with banana leaves.
The tribe, which is estimated to have around 150 people, also have metal instruments such as a machete knife and a pan, presumably acquired through inter-tribal trading.
Several NGO’s are concerned that an influx of illegal loggers from Peru could jeopardize their survival; these communities have never (or very very seldom) have seen modern civilization, and are extremely susceptible to our diseases. Also, the loggers could push back other tribes thus creating bloody conflicts over raw materials and land.
Fiona Watson of Survival International and a researcher working in the area fear that if the Peruvian government persists with its current attitude and does nothing to stop the advancing of the loggers, the future of the native community is in imminent jeopardy.
Ms. Watson, who has worked for Survival for 20 years, is fearful that if pressure is not put on the Peruvian government to expel the loggers, then this small cluster of tribes - and their fascinating way of life - will be lost for ever.
“I’m extremely angry and I don’t understand why in our world today a lot of people don’t think that these groups don’t have as much rights as anyone else,” she has said. “They are a fantastic example of how to live a sustainable life. They are very sophisticated and no one has a better understanding of their environment. We can learn a lot from them. […] What we are seeing is people who are living differently but they are human beings like you or me. There is a moral and ethical issue. What right do we have to tell them how to live?”
President Alan García, who took office in 2006, has gone on record saying that these tribes have been ‘invented’ by ‘environmentalists’ opposed to oil exploration in the Amazon. Another spokesperson compared them to the Loch Ness monster, when in fact, there are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes around the world. This leaves the Brazilian authorities and NGOs operating in the area in an incredibly frustrating position about how to protect the groups from the land grabs which could lead to potential extinction.
But Watson keeps up her campaign:
“We have released these amazing pictures and set up a website, www.uncontactedtribes.org, so we can campaign and raise awareness. We want to make these issues public, and put pressure on the Peruvian government to uphold these Indians’ rights,” she said.
“Our main weapon is public opinion - if the British public get involved in this campaign and contact their local MP, then that will help. We have an “Act Now” command on the website which will allow you to send an e-mail directly to the president of Peru.”