Brazilian authorities say they have pinpointed the location of a community of ancient and uncontacted tribespeople in one of the remotest corners of the Amazon rainforest.
Fabricio Amorim, a regional co-ordinator for Brazil's indigenous foundation, Funai, said the indigenous community had been found after three small forest clearings were detected on satellite images. Flyovers were carried out in April, confirming the community's existence.
Four straw-roofed huts, flanked by banana trees and encircled by thick jungle, can be seen in photographs taken during the flyover.
The community is likely to be home to about 200 people, probably from the Pano linguistic group which straddles the border between Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, according to Funai.
Amorim said the region — known as the Vale do Javari — contained "the greatest concentration of isolated groups in the Amazon and the world" but warned of growing threats to their survival.
"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. Oil exploration over the border in Peru could also have a negative impact on indigenous tribes in region.
Officially, Funai recognises the existence of 14 uncontacted tribes in the Vale do Javari, making up a total of at least 2,000 people. But that number is likely to rise as expeditions to this region of the western Amazon continue.
Government officials currently seek to avoid direct contact with Brazil's uncontacted tribes, instead working to identify and protect their lands from afar. But many believe limited contact may become necessary in order to protect the groups from external threats.
José Carlos Meirelles, a veteran Funai official who has spent more than two decades working in the Javari region, said in 2009: "If this situation continues, contact will become inevitable, and it is better that it happens with us than with loggers or goldpanners."
Source: The Guardian