Uncontacted tribes flee across the border

April 11, 2008

Evidence of illegal logging which is forcing uncontacted Indians to flee from Peru to Brazil. © FUNAI/Survival

This page was created in 2008 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Uncontacted tribes in Peru are fleeing across the border to Brazil because illegal mahogany loggers are invading their territory and killing them, according to an uncontacted tribes expert.

Illegal loggers are exploring the headwaters of the Yurua, Purus and Envira rivers in Peru, says a statement by José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Júnior. This region is inhabited by ‘several uncontacted tribes who, in order to defend their territory, are attacking the invading loggers and being systematically killed by them.’

‘The uncontacted tribes are migrating into Brazil. . . At the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, some aggressive, uncontacted groups crossed into Brazilian territory.’

Meirelles works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs department, and is head of the Indian Protection post near the Peru border. He predicts that the tribes’ flight into Brazil will lead to further violence, not only with other loggers but also other uncontacted tribes who live on the Brazilian side of the border permanently.

‘What is happening in this region is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the ‘civilised’ ones, treat the world,’ Meirelles’s statement reads.

Meirelles appeals to mahogany consumers in Europe, Japan and North America, stressing the tragic consequences of their demand for the valuable wood.

‘Dear Mr Japanese: In your lovely home built of wood live the ghosts of uncontacted peoples who died without knowing why,’ the statement reads.

Meirelles strongly criticises the Brazilian and Peruvian governments who ‘know about all this but don’t lift a finger to find a solution to the problem. All there is are statements of intent and minutes of bi-national meetings in air-conditioned rooms.’

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru