Uncontacted Amazon tribes face danger as protection order from loggers expires next month

By Mason Quah

THE UNCONTACTED Piripkura tribe of the Amazon basin is under threat due to renewed illegal logging and farming operations.

The land currently receives a degree protection from a Land Protection Order, which is due to expire on September 18.

Little has been done to enforce the Protection Order, as the one contacted member of the tribe described her harrowing experience as loggers stormed her settlement and massacred her family.

Nine of her relatives were massacred during one attack by loggers.

Rita said: “There are lots of land grabbers around… if they kill them, there won’t be anyone left.”

The exact number of surviving Piripkura is not known, with members scattered and fleeing into the deep forest.

Head of Survival International’s Uncontacted Tribes campaign Sarah Shenker said:  “The Piripkura people have been decimated by decades of killings at the hands of outsiders.

“Now those few that are left face the same fate, as ranchers and politicians, boosted by President Bolsonaro’s genocidal actions and proposals, are trying to rip up all protection of the Piripkura’s forest.

“The Land Protection Orders – and proper enforcement of them – are the only thing standing between uncontacted tribes like the Piripkura and total extinction.“

The Piripkura’s situation is far from unique, although they have seen the greatest amount of land encroachment among the six similar tribal territories under protection.

The status of Amazon natives has degraded significantly under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has worked to removal of protections against commercial developments in the region.

Under the first year of his presidency the number of violent attacks against natives increased by double, according a report published by Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council.

Large parts of the current devastation that can be witnessed across the Amazon can be attributed to his gutting of FUNAI, the protection agency for indigenous groups.

The power to designate indigenous lands and assign protections to them was stripped from FUNAI and granted to the Ministry of Agriculture, who are instead incentivised to expand commercial land into indigenous territories.

More recently, a number of tribes have reported catching the coronavirus from loggers operating on their territory, a much greater danger to them due to the inaccessibility of healthcare.

Featured Image: Pixabay

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