Monday, November 14, 2011

Uncontacted Indians emerge from forest

12 Nov 2011LinkSource: Cool Earth

Over the last few months there have been several sightings of previously "uncontacted" Indians in Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve located in the Peruvian Amazon an area which borders The virgin forests between Manu and the Brazilian frontier, between 150 and 200 miles to the east, is one of the last regions of the planet where indigenous communities have been able to live in relative peace and isolation during the last 50 years.


According to Roger Rumrill, a Peruvian specialist on the Amazon region and consultant advisor to that country's Ministry for the Environment, the increased sightings are most likely a consequence of pressure from loggers, gold prospectors, and seismic teams exploring for oil and gas. This kind of exploitative pressure has been on the rise over the last 10 years, frequently pushing the voluntary isolated groups from the core of their traditional territory.

Peru's newly appointed government, led by President Ollanta Humala, has a much more positive approach to the so-called "uncontacted" indigenous groups than the previous government which essentially tried to auction off around 70% of the Peruvian Amazon to multinational companies, in most instances, without even attempting to properly consult the legal owners such as indigenous communities. Alan Garcia, the previous President, even dismissed the existence of isolated indigenous groups, suggesting instead, that they were an invention of environmentalists to deter "development" in the region.

This new approach was reflected last month when the Ministry for the Environment released a video shot by tourists showing their close encounter with a group of "uncontacted" Indians on a riverbank in Manu. Ministry of the Environment officials explained that these tourists were irresponsibly tracking the Indians with a motorised canoe. This "game" stopped when the Indians pointed their bow and arrows at the tourists.

The video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYaqGiCgoWc) shows the tourists debating among themselves whether to approach the Indians and whether or not they should leave gifts of food or clothing for the Indians to take. The officials issued a strong warning to tourists and others travelling in Peru's rainforests to avoid any contact with isolated groups, including leaving cloths or other items which could very easily transmit illnesses to people who, because of their long term isolation, are immunologically defenceless even against basic ailments like influenza.
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