Several weeks ago, almost every major press outlet picked up the story of the photographs taken of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rainforest near the border between Brazil and Peru. Unfortunately, it seems that fewer members of the media have chosen to keep following the story.
Last week the manager of Peru’s Alto Purus National Park said that contrary to popular belief, the tribe is not Peruvian, and more importantly, are not being threatened by illegal logging. He went on to explain that there are control towers in the area where lookouts keep a watch for illegal logging. The tribe he said is from Brazil, and migrates normally back and forth from Brazil to Peru without knowing the difference.
These comments, combined with the recent news that the Peruvian government has sent a team to the Amazon to investigate the matter makes me think that there really is a problem. Perhaps the government of Peru really does not want to do anything about the issue with the exception of conducting a token investigation. This might be the reason why someone of importance is already dismissing the claim of illegal logging.
One challenge, granted, is the fact that it is ideal and desired to leave the tribe alone. Without talking to them, it is difficult to truly know if they and others have been displaced by logging in Peru. The area of the rainforest in which they live is also notoriously hard to travel through.
The thing that bothers me most about the aforementioned park manager’s attitude is that he thinks it somehow matters whether or not the people in question are from Peru or Brazil. He himself recognizes that they don’t have knowledge of such a distinction. So why should we? It is discouraging that the manager of such an important park and area would have such a cavalier and contradictory attitude toward helping protect the people that have traditionally lived within it, and probably know the place best. Of course, it is possible that he is entirely correct. I’d like to see him provide more proof to back up his claims.
If you want to keep monitoring news about this fascinating situation, you can check in with Survival International, an organization devoted to the protection of tribal peoples. They claim that approximately 1300 people around the world wrote to the Peruvian government asking them to stop illegal logging after hearing about the uncontacted tribe and the threat they potentially face. They have information on their website about how you too can write to the Peruvian government, or donate money to their organization’s efforts to protect tribal and indigenous peoples.