If we lose them

This tribe living in the western Brazilian regions of the Amazon rainforest is among the very last ones on our planet to remain to this day uncontacted. Pushed back into the most isolated areas of the Amazon basin through the past decades (especially since the rubber boom at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th centuries), these tribes are threatened today not only by the endless growth of farming and the incurable plague of illegal logging – one of the most wanted woods being mahogany – but by relentless projects of gas and oil exploration and drilling. This is particularly true in Peru, where for years the authorities – unlike those of Brazil and Ecuador – have denied that such isolated tribes might still exist. And this is why the images we see here, though they must be filmed sparingly (and from a reasonable distance, with powerful zooms, so as to bring the smallest possible disturbance to the tribes) are so important.

On my two trips in the Amazon rainforest, I’ve seen members of tribes who had until recently been like these now living on the edges of small farming, logging, and/or mining towns, at the rear end of some roads cutting through the jungle. Suddenly stripped of their natural environment, only to find their ancestral life balance, customs and values irremediably disrupted and lost, they were now living like walking zombies, dressed in (western, non-traditional) rags and covered in (non-cosmetic) dirt, their little children wandering around begging for money or food. This is one of the consequences of the shock impact between these tribes and our civilization, when it’s not our illnesses – even a simple cold, or the lightest flu – to decimate them, very often wiping the entire tribe off the face of the earth.

It is very important that these tribes remain uncontacted, and thus preserved. It is our duty towards them as human beings. And it is part of the respect we owe to ourselves: indeed, if we lose them, we will forever lose a part of what we are.

If you somewhat share my concern and feeling that this is an urgent issue, you can take action by either subscribing to Survival International, the Rainforest Alliance or any other organization for the defense of the rainforest (not only the Amazon one) and of its tribes, by signing petitions such as this, or by trying and boycott any type of product sold by companies that exploit these areas (some lists are available at www.eia-international.org or www.rainforest-alliance.org).

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