Monday, August 17, 2009

Photos reveal illegal logging near uncontacted natives in Peru

August 17, 2009

Ariel photos show proof of illegal logging for mahogany occurring in a Peruvian reserve set aside for uncontacted natives. The photos, taken by Chris Fagan from Round River Conservation Studies, show logging camps set-up inside the Murunahua Reserve, meant to protect the uncontacted indigenous group, known as the Murunahua Indians, in the Peruvian Amazon.

"All four camps looked to be active. Illegal logging in protected areas is a serious threat to the indigenous people who live in the region. Not only are these ‘uncontacted’ people extremely vulnerable to diseases brought by outsiders, but there is a history of violent conflict between them and loggers," said Fagan.

The government of Peru, which has recently been criticized for firing on indigenous people involved in protesting oil drilling, has in the past denied that loggers had infiltrated such reserves even after Brazil alleged that illegal loggers were driving indigenous people across the border from Peru to Brazil.

The presence of loggers greatly threatens the Murunahua Indians since their long-isolation has left them particularly susceptible to disease. Previous encounters by loggers with groups of the Murunahua have left over half of the indigenous peoples dead by disease.

"Peru's government must act immediately: stop the logging and allow the uncontacted Indians to live in peace. The fate of Peru’s isolated tribes was, after all, one of the concerns of the indigenous protests which brought much of the Amazon to a standstill earlier this year," said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, an organization committed to the rights of tribal peoples.

(Image: Deforestation in Peru. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.)

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