Brazil land grab threatens isolated tribes: activists

October 27, 2016
Ranchers and settlers in the remotest reaches of northwestern Brazil are voraciously cutting down rainforest to farm crops, encroaching on the ancestral lands of three uncontacted groups, said Survival International

The worst land grab in decades in the Brazilian Amazon is threatening the survival of isolated tribes that have no contact with the outside world, a rights group said Wednesday.

Ranchers and settlers in the remotest reaches of northwestern Brazil are voraciously cutting down rainforest to , encroaching on the of three uncontacted groups, said Survival International.

The land grab is also threatening another tribe, the Uru Eu Wau Wau, or "Harpy Eagle" people, that has only limited contact with the outside world, said the London-based group.

Warning the groups face "annihilation," it accused local politicians in the state of Rondonia of backing the deforestation, even though the area is officially designated as an indigenous reserve and sits within a national park, Pacaas Novas.

Because isolated peoples' immune systems have never been exposed to the outside world's diseases, the land grab risks causing devastating outbreaks, Survival said.

"Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit. What's happening in Brazil is simply a continuation of the invasion and genocide which characterized the European colonization of the Americas," said the group's director, Stephen Corry.

The organization quoted a letter the Harpy Eagle tribe sent to Brazilian police, in which they call the land grab "extremely serious."

"We are very worried because the invasions are close to our villages and putting the lives of women, old people, children and men at risk," said the letter.

Experts estimate between 50 and 90 percent of the populations of Brazil's isolated tribes were wiped out when the government initiated contact with them in the 1970s and 80s—official policy at the time.

Today, the government tries to avoid any contact with isolated peoples, in order to protect them.

Brazil is home to some 900,000 indigenous people from 305 different ethnic groups.

Explore further: Global drive in support of Brazil's threatened Awa tribe

Related Stories

NGO releases new pictures of Brazil's isolated Amazon tribe

November 22, 2011

A non-governmental group on Tuesday released new pictures of an Indian tribe living in isolation in the Brazilian Amazon, saying they vindicated the decision to create "the biggest forested indigenous territory in the world."

Recommended for you

How Earth sheds heat into space

September 24, 2018

Just as an oven gives off more heat to the surrounding kitchen as its internal temperature rises, the Earth sheds more heat into space as its surface warms up. Since the 1950s, scientists have observed a surprisingly straightforward, ...

Urbanization is cutting off life support to NYC's wetlands

September 24, 2018

Historically, salt marshes have not only served as ecological nurseries for fish, birds, and other wildlife—they've been stalwart defenses against coastal storms. But recently, coastal development coupled with accelerated ...

After the Big One: Understanding aftershock risk

September 24, 2018

In early September 2018, a powerful earthquake on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan triggered landslides, toppled buildings, cut power, halted industry, killed more than 40 people and injured hundreds. The national ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

baudrunner
not rated yet Nov 04, 2016
And the mayhem continues. I don't want to hear any more reports about how unrestrained deforestation is hurting our planet while this kind of brazen exploitation continues to proliferate. The Brazilian government doesn't care, otherwise this would not go on. It is irresponsible. Merely reporting it serves not more useful purpose than to burden us with shame.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.