Defence of uncontacted tribes is in 'public interest'

The defence of uncontacted tribes has been declared in the ‘public interest’ by Peru’s regional Ucayali government.

The statement is in a new law approved by the regional government intended to protect the tribes from outsiders invading their territories. The tribes, including the Mashco-Piro, Murunahua and Isconahua, are threatened with extinction by oil exploration and illegal logging.

The tribes are especially vulnerable because of their lack of immunity to outsiders’ diseases. After being contacted for the first time by illegal loggers in the mid-1990s, more than 50% of the Murunahua died.

‘The disease came when the loggers made contact with us,’ Jorge, one of the Murunahua survivors, told Survival. ‘As a result, half of us died. My aunt died, my nephew died. Half of my people died. The elders especially. When they came out of the deep parts of the jungle, they had no resistance to the disease.’

The new law orders the creation of a ‘Defence, Protection and Contingency Plan’ to protect the tribes.

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘It’s good news the regional government has recognised the tribes’ existence and dire situation. What must happen now is for oil exploration to be stopped in these areas and for illegal loggers to be removed.’