Peru: illegal loggers seized days after photos of “uncontacted” indigenous group released

Peru on Feb. 8 raided an illegal logging site in ManĂș National Park, Madre de Dios region—just days after the UK-based Survival International released the first detailed photos of the “uncontacted” Mashco-Piro tribe that inhabits the reserve. In an operation led by SERNANP, Peru’s agency for protected areas, park guards and police uncovered more than 3,000 feet of illegally harvested timber. SERNANP’s two-day operation led to the arrest of a group of men and confiscation of their tools. The men face prison terms of three to six years. Sightings of the Mashco-Piro have risen in recent months, with many blaming illegal loggers for pushing the tribe out of their forest home.

FENAMAD, the regional indigenous organization, is now working with local communities to set up a guard post to help protect the Mashco-Piro from intruders. The organization has criticized tour operators for taking tourists close to where the sightings have been reported. FENAMAD welcomed the results of the raid, and said it is “working with national and local authorities, including SERNANP, to ensure security for uncontacted tribes.” More than 100,000 people have now signed a Survival International petition calling on Peru’s government to do more to protect “uncontacted” tribes from illegal logging on their land. (Survival International, Feb. 8)

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