Isolated tribe members in Brazil spotted in drone footage

August 24, 2018
This handout drone picture taken in 2017 and released by Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) on August 23, 2018 shows a thatched hut in the indigenous territory Vale do Javari in the Brazilian Amazon forest in Amazonas state

In the sprawling greenery of the Brazilian Amazon, near the border with Peru, a group of people—small in the distance—walk through a clearing.

These are isolated tribe members, and little do they know, they're being watched—drone footage revealing their existence to the world.

The video—recorded in 2017, but published this week—is just one element of the material that Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) collected during missions to the Javari Valley.

The hard-to-access area of southwestern Amazonas state is home to the majority of the more than 100 confirmed isolated tribes in the vast South American nation.

FUNAI has made contact with eight in the Javari Valley—but says that there are 11 more, detected via signs including a huge hut, handmade axes and canoes crafted out of palm tree trunks.

To get to the region, FUNAI officials and police had to cover 180 kilometers (110 miles) by river and dirt road, and then another 120 kilometers on foot through the jungle, the agency said in a statement.

The project, which aims to protect isolated tribes, relied on the in-depth local knowledge of the Kanamari tribe.

During the mission, they also encountered two groups of poachers, forcing them to release wild animals.

Brazil's FUNAI has made contact with eight isolated tribes in the Javari Valley—but says that there are 11 more, detected via signs including a huge hut, handmade axes and canoes crafted out of palm tree trunks like those seen here
"Vigilance and control must be stepped up in the region to... guarantee total possession of the territory for ," said coordinator Vitor Gois.

Last month, FUNAI released video of what it believes to be the only survivor of one Brazilian Amazon tribe.

The man lives in the state of Rondonia—which borders Bolivia—and it is thought he has spent 22 years living along in the jungle, after his village fell victim to landowners and loggers.

That footage was recorded in 2011, but only just released. Evidence discovered this year suggests that he is still alive.

His situation, like that of other peoples, alarms specialists who warn of pressures from the agricultural and mining industries, who seek to overtake indigenous lands.

Over 800,000 indigenous people—who belong to 305 groups and speak 274 languages between them—live in Brazil, according to official data.

Explore further: Brazil government identifies uncontacted 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

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...


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.