New photos show an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon jungle that resists threats brought about by illegal mining in the area.
The tribal community is in Yanomami indigenous territory in the north of Brazil, close to the border with Venezuela. About 22,000 Yanomami are estimated to be living on the Brazilian side of the border. At least three groups are known to have no contact with outsiders.
The images taken from the air show a Yanomami yano, a communal house for several families of the tribe. Each family occupies individual square sections where they keep their food, maintain fires and hang their hammocks. The community is estimated to be home to a hundred people.
Uncontacted tribes, also known as isolated people or lost tribes, are communities of people who do not have peaceful or significant contact with people in the mainstream or dominant civilization.
Members of these tribes have been described as the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. They are vulnerable to violence and diseases from outsiders.
"These extraordinary images are further proof of the existence of still more uncontacted tribes. They're not savages but complex and contemporary societies whose rights must be respected," Survival International director Stephen Corry said in a statement. "It's obvious that they're perfectly capable of living successfully without the need for outside notions of 'progress' and 'development.'"
Threats Posed By Gold Miners
The uncontacted tribes in the region are particularly vulnerable to illegal gold miners who have brought malaria as well as polluted the tribes' food and water sources with mercury.
Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, who described the miners as termites that keep coming back and do not leave them in peace, said that the pollution caused by the miners killed the shrimps and fishes in the rivers. Outsiders also brought flu and measles to which these people have little resistance.
The aerial images were taken as part of an investigation being conducted by Brazilian authorities of about 5,000 miners illegally conducting operation in the territory.
Protection Curtailed By Budget Cuts
The images show that mining sites are in close in proximity to the village, which poses concern particularly now that protection by the authorities are being curtailed by budget cuts.
Survival International, a human rights organizations campaigning for the rights of indigenous tribal people and uncontacted people, said that the cuts may shut down half of 12 uncontacted teams, one of which is focused on protecting the Yanomami.