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30 May 2008 17:18
Dramatic images of an isolated Brazilian tribe believed never to have had contact with the outside world were published by officials on Friday to draw attention to threats posed to their way of life.
The pictures, released by the Brazilian government’s National Indian Foundation (Funai), showed alarmed Amazon Indians pointing bows and arrows at the aircraft carrying photographers.
The head of Funai’s environmental protection unit responsible for the images, Jose Carlos dos Reis Mereilles, told Brazilian newspapers the foundation had known of the existence of the tribe for years—located in thick rainforest near the Peruvian border—and many photos had been taken.
“This time, we decided to reveal the material to prove that there are Indians living in complete isolation, and to call attention to a serious problem that exists, which is the threat of interlopers from the Peruvian side,” he told O Estado de S Paulo.
The pictures were taken from several flights over the apparently sedentary tribe’s thatched-roof village in the remote Brazilian state of Acre.
Survival International, a British group lobbying on behalf of indigenous people around the world, said on its website there were fears illegal logging in Peru could endanger the Brazilian tribe’s habitat, by forcing displaced Peruvian tribes into contact with it.
It said there were an estimated 500 isolated Indians living on the Brazilian side of the border.
“The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct,” Survival International director Stephen Corry said.
His group said there were more than 100 uncontacted indigenous tribes worldwide.—AFP
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