The indigenous community were discovered in the Amazon rainforest near Manaus (CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture)

Uncontacted tribe discovered in the Amazon rainforest

23rd June 2011

The location of a community of an ancient and uncontacted tribe has been discovered in one of the most remote corners of the Amazon rainforest

Pinpointed by Brazilian authorities, the indigenous community was found in the south-western area of the forest after three small clearings were picked up on satellite images.

The community's existence was confirmed by the Brazilian government's National Indian Foundation, Funai, in April following flyovers of the area, which stands about 1,130 kilometres east of Manaus.

According to Funai the tribe is thought to be of the Pano linguistic group, with a population of around 200 individuals.

Fabricio Amorim, the Funai coordinator for Vale do Javari – where the tribe was discovered – said that the region has a constellation of uncontacted peoples considered the largest in the world.

"The work of identifying and protecting isolated groups is part of Brazilian public policy, to confirm something like this takes years of methodical work.”

Amorim warned of the threat to communities such as the one discovered, "Among the main threats to the well-being of these groups are illegal fishing, hunting, logging, mining, cattle ranching, missionary actions… and drug trafficking," he said. He also added that oil exploration in the Peruvian Amazon could negatively impact the region and its communities.

Despite the threats they face, most of Brazil's indigenous communities maintain their language and heritage.

During the flyover, images were taken of four straw-roofed huts, flanked by banana trees and encircled by thick jungle. Given the lush flora surrounding the huts, the community are believed to be well and healthy.

Near the border with Peru, the community resides in the vast Vale do Javari reservation, which is nearly the size of Portugal and home to 14 uncontacted tribes, which makes a total of at least 20,000 people. Funai estimates that there are 68 isolated communities living within the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil has a policy preventing people from directly contacting isolated indigenous communities in order to preserve their autonomy and prevent invasion of their land.

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