Monday, August 22, 2011

Remote tribe missing in Brazil

Source: OpenPR

(openPR) - Concerns for the safety of one of the last remote tribes in the world are growing, after drug traffickers reportedly attacked a guard posted to protect their land.

There has been no sign of the tribe after the gang of heavily armed men entered Western Brazil not far from the Peruvian border and officials have expressed their concern, after finding a broken arrow in one of the men’s backpacks.

According to the International Business Times a Portuguese man with a criminal record has been detained in connection with the event.
Sarah Shenker, one of the campaigners at Survival International said: “The Brazilian government's indigenous affairs department did an overflight of the area on Tuesday and could not see any signs of conflict. However, this is dense Amazon rainforest and it is difficult to know exactly where or how the Indians are. The people carrying out the overflight did not see the Indians, but say this could have been as the Indians hid as the plane passed over. FUNAI is still very concerned about the Indians' safety as the drug traffickers have not been evicted. We hope to know more early next week about next steps in the plan to protect the area.”

Since speaking to Shenker, Brazil FUNAI has said that it will send troops into an Amazon border area to search for the missing tribe.
Carlos Travassos, the head of the government’s isolated Indians department, suggested that the Peruvians may have been behind the Indians fleeing. When asked, Shenker said that they at Survival International had not heard anything from the Peruvian government, but it may have been possible that this was the case. “If the Indians knew the invaders were nearby, and if they saw any of the large calibre guns the traffickers may have been carrying, they could well have moved to another part of the forest. This has not been confirmed, however.”

The tribe, which made headlines earlier this year, have never made contact with the outside world and live a very traditional life in the forest. Brazilian officials do not want to force contact but monitor them from a distance.

While everyone hopes the missing tribe emerges safe and unharmed, another tribe of approximately 200 was been located via satellite.
Located near the Peruvian border in the Vale do Javari Reservation which is almost the size of Portugal, the area is thought to have the highest number of remote tribes anywhere in the world.

Brazil has been uncovering different tribes around the Amazon and the total number of indigenous people is thought to total over 2,000.
Shenker strongly believes that indigenous peoples’ land must be protected by the government with an “effective programme put in place to monitor the land to ensure no drug traffickers enter.”

“It is crucial that the authorities work together to evict and arrest them as soon as possible. Suitable fines and punishments must be in place,” Shenker continues. “The presence of drug traffickers in the Indians' territory puts them at risk of violent conflict as well as death from disease: uncontacted Indians have very little immunity to outside diseases and even the common cold or flu could kill them. It is not uncommon for a tribe's population to be reduced by half following first contact, as many Indians die from disease.”

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