Scientists call for 'outright protection' of uncontacted tribes' land

August 13, 2008

The Nahua had first contact with the outside world after oil exploration on their land. More of the 50% of the tribe died. © Survival International

This page was created in 2008 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Five scientists writing in a peer-reviewed journal have called for the ‘outright protection’ of lands belonging to uncontacted tribes in Peru and other countries in the western Amazon.

The article, published in PLoS ONE, highlights the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration to Indigenous people and the natural environment. It states that 688,000 square kilometres of the western Amazon are now open to oil and gas companies.

The article reveals that in Peru alone almost half a million square kilometres can be explored – a massive 72% of the entire Peruvian rainforest. Many of these areas include uncontacted tribes’ land.

‘The scope and magnitude of planned activity appears unprecedented,’ the article states. ‘Proper attention to the rights of Indigenous peoples and the outright protection of lands of people living in voluntary isolation, who, by definition cannot give informed consent, would bring exploration within widely accepted international norms of justice.

‘(Uncontacted tribes) are extremely vulnerable because they lack resistance or immunity from outsiders’ diseases. First contact results in high rates of morbidity and mortality, with mortality estimates ranging between a third and a half of the population within the first several years.’

To read the report in full, click here.

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru