Striking new aerial photographs of an uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian Amazon highlight the importance of protecting their territory from the growing threat of illegal mining, according to indigenous rights campaigners.
The images – which show the tribe members inside a circular communal structure, known as a maloca – were taken in the Yanomami Reserve near the border with Venezuela, and are the clearest yet of the apparently healthy, growing community of Moxihatetema, who had not been seen for more than a year.
The tribe – one of three Yanomami groups in the area that are monitored remotely after shunning approaches from outsiders – were a source of concern after they went missing at a time of increasing invasions by garimpeiros, or illegal miners.
The bad news is that protection by the authorities is diminishing as a result of budget cuts. The National Indian Foundation (best known by its Brazilian acronym Funai), which is responsible for indigenous land, has been hit harder than other areas of government by the austerity measures introduced by Brazil’s president, Michel Temer.
“Funai closed its field base in this region last year, effectively abandoning the Moxihatetema to their own fate,” said Watson. “We are urging for funding for the uncontacted and recently contacted Indians department in Funai to be increased or at least maintained.”
This year Funai’s budget was reduced by 37.7%; congress is now debating further cuts in 2017 that will reduce it to 110m reais ($32m) – the lowest it has been in the past 10 years.