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Friday, June 24, 2011

Lost tribe of 200 found in Amazon spotted by satellite

By Daily Mail Reporter

Government officials in Brazil have confirmed the existence of an uncontacted population in the Amazon rainforest after the tribe of 200 was spotted by satellite.

Three large clearings were identified in a southwestern area near the Peruvian border this week, but the tribe's existence was only verified after airplane expeditions in April gathered more data.

Local government agency the National Indian Foundation uses the aircraft to avoid disrupting isolated groups.

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Spotted: The unidentified Amazonian tribe were seen in straw-covered 'maloca' huts

Brazil has a policy of not contacting such tribes but working to prevent the invasion of their land to preserve their autonomy.

The government agency, known by its Portuguese acronym Funai, estimates 68 isolated populations live in the Amazon.

The most recently identified tribe live in four large, straw-roofed buildings and grow corn, bananas, peanuts and other crops.

Untouched by civilisation: The unknown indian tribe are thought to belong to the group sharing the Pano language

According to Funai, preliminary observation indicates the population likely belongs to the pano language group, which extends from the Brazilian Amazon into the Peruvian and Bolivian jungle.

The community is near the border with Peru in the massive Vale do Javari reservation, which is nearly the size of Portugal and is home to at least 14 uncontacted tribes.

Funai coordinator for Vale do Javari, Fabricio Amorim, said: 'The work of identifying and protecting isolated groups is part of Brazilian public policy.

'To confirm something like this takes years of methodical work.'
The region has a constellation of uncontacted peoples considered the largest in the world, said Amorim.

In addition to the 14 known groups, Funai has identified through satellite images or land excursions up to eight more tribes.

That adds up to a population of about 2,000 individuals in the reservation, Amorim said.

Their culture, and even their survival, is threatened by illegal fishing, hunting, logging and mining in the area, along with deforestation by farmers, missionary activity and drug trafficking along Brazil's borders, Amorim said.

Oil exploration in the Peruvian Amazon could also destabilise the region, he said.

The group are thought to live on bananas, corn, peanuts and other crops which they grow themselves

'Lost': The isolated tribe, believed to share the Pano language, have plantations of corn and bananas near their homes

Discovery: The roofs of 'malocas' - huts - are visible above the canopy of the jungle along the Javari River in Brazil

In spite of the threats, most of Brazil's indigenous groups maintain their languages and traditions.

Many have long fought for control of land in which they've traditionally lived on.

They won legal rights to reclaim that territory in Brazil's 1988 constitution, which declared that all indigenous ancestral lands be demarcated and turned over to tribes within five years.

So far, 11 per cent of Brazilian territory and nearly 22 per cent of the Amazon has been turned over to such groups.



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