Brazil’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) has released new photographs of an isolated tribe living in a remote rainforest region of Acre state near the Peruvian border. FUNAI has been monitoring “uncontacted” tribes—those with only limited dealings with the outside world—from the air in recent years. Photographs of what is believed to be the same tribe were released to the world two years ago. Campaigners say the tribe, believed to be part of the Panoan indigenous group, are threatened by a rise in illegal logging on the Peruvian side of the border.
In the photos, a small group, some with red body paint (known as urucum, made from annatto seeds), look up at the aircfaft from which the photos were taken. They appear healthy, and some carry baskets full of manioc and papaya grown in their communal gardens. Some bear machetes, which they presumably acquired these through trading links with other forest tribes.
“These networks have been in existence for centuries and I don’t think they will have had any contact with non-tribal people, because if they had, the chances of being killed or contracting a disease to which they have no immunity are very high,” said Fiona Watson, field and research director for Survival International. (BBC News, AFP, Jan. 31)
Peru’s authorities responded to the release of the photos by announcing that they will work together with Brazil to stop loggers from entering the territory. In a Feb. 2 statement, Peru’s Foreign Ministry said it will “establish contact with Brazil’s FUNAI institute…to preserve these peoples and avoid the incursion of illegal loggers and the depredation of the Amazon.” Survival Internaitonal hailed the move as the first success in their campaign to protect the Peru-Brazil border area from encroachment by outsiders. (Survival International, Feb. 3)
The photos are online at Survival International