Uncontacted tribe missing after armed drug dealers storm their forest

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
August 09, 2011



Concern is rising for the welfare of uncontacted natives in the Brazilian Amazon after armed marauders stormed the area where they were last documented. Last week men with rifles and machine guns, believed to be drug traffickers from Peru, overran a remote government guard post run by FUNAI (Brazil's Indigenous Affairs Department) on the Envira River, near the uncontacted indigenous people's location on the border of Brazil and Peru. The uncontacted indigenous people in question made headlines worldwide earlier this year after photos and film of them were released from flyovers.

"There is no knowing how many tribal peoples the drugs trade has wiped out in the past, but all possible measures should be taken to stop it happening again. The world’s attention should be on these uncontacted Indians, just as it was at the beginning of this year when they were first captured on film," Stephen Corry, the head of indigenous rights group Survival International, said in a press release.

Brazilian officials found a broken arrow in one of the drug traffickers backpack, which added to fears that the armed men had run into the uncontacted tribe.

"Arrows are like the identity card of uncontacted Indians. We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee. Now we have good proof. We are more worried than ever," Carlos Travassos, the head of Brazil's isolated Indians department, explained, before adding that, "This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades. It’s a catastrophe."

FUNAI officials say the men may have been targeting the uncontacted tribe deliberately in order to make way for illegal logging or drug trafficking from Peru to Brazil. Officials have estimated the uncontacted tribe contained around 200 people. However, following the drug traffickers invasion a rapid survey of the area revealed no one from the tribe.

Earlier this year, when the photos of the uncontacted people were released, Survival International stated that the photos "reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens", but warned that the indigenous community was imperiled by illegal loggers from Peru.

When known about uncontacted indigenous groups are usually monitored from afar, however some governments and corporations simply deny their existence if their presence upsets their plans.



To see photos of the uncontacted tribe: Incredible new photos of uncontacted tribe in the Amazon












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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (August 09, 2011).

Uncontacted tribe missing after armed drug dealers storm their forest.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0809-hance_missing_uncontacted.html