An Amazon tribe with no previous contact with the outside world was spotted by a drone flying over the Brazilian jungle. Footage released this week shows several people walking through a wide clearing made in the Javary River valley, near the border with Peru.
One of the people is carrying a spear or pole of some kind, while four or five others stand near what look like thatched structures.
None of the people spotted by the drone appear to notice their observer, which is flying high above the trees surrounding them.
Funai is the foundation that is responsible for protecting the interests of indigenous tribes living in the Brazilian Amazon. Many of these tribes have seen their homes devastated by colonialism and foreign diseases, as well as ongoing logging and mining operations.
“It is the only government department in the world which is dedicated to the protection of indigenous peoples who have little or no contact with national society and other tribes,” according to Survival International, an NGO dedicated to tribal peoples’ rights.
Funai was founded in 1910 by Brazilian marshal and explorer Candido Rondon. He is famous for his philosophy on interacting with tribes in the Amazon: “Die if necessary, but never kill.”
Funai said that for the latest survey its team had traveled more than 180 kilometers (112 miles) by boat, truck and motorcycle, before a further 120 kilometer (75 mile) trek through the jungle.
The Javary River region is home to eight contacted tribes, and 11 confirmed isolated tribes, Funai said. “This is the largest quantity of records confirmed groups of isolated indigenous peoples in the country,” the agency added.
According to Survival International, there more than 100 tribes around the world living in isolation.
“Imposing ‘development’ on tribal peoples just doesn’t work. Even the new healthcare, even in the richest nations, is never enough to counter the effects of introduced diseases and the devastation caused by land theft. As many tribespeople tell us repeatedly, the new clinics fail to cure them of illnesses that they never knew before,” the NGO said.