Spread of ‘human safaris’ threatens Peru’s uncontacted Indians 27 February 2012

Uncontacted Mashco Piro Indians have been seen in the area on several occasions.
Uncontacted Mashco Piro Indians have been seen in the area on several occasions.
© G. Galli/Survival

Peru’s uncontacted Mashco-Piro tribe is facing the very real threat of being exploited by ‘human safaris’, according to British newspaper The Observer.

Last month, Survival released detailed photos of the tribe, to draw attention to the importance of protecting them from unwanted contact.

The Mashco-Piro live in Peru’s Manú National Park, which is extremely popular with tourists, and sightings of the tribe have increased in the last year.

Illegal logging and nearby oil and gas projects are forcing them out of the forest and closer to the riverbanks, where they are more visible to passing boats.

Now, The Observer says the Mashco-Piro could fall victim to yet another threat – ‘human safaris’; a scandal first exposed by Survival in India’s Andaman Islands in 2010.

An investigation by The Observer suggests that some unscrupulous tour-guides working in Manú Park are trying to profit from sightings of the tribe.

The Mashco-Piro are being forced out of their forest by illegal logging and oil and gas exploration.
The Mashco-Piro are being forced out of their forest by illegal logging and oil and gas exploration.
© Jean-Paul Van Belle

The newspaper has evidence that some companies are offering tourists ‘tailor-made programmes’ where they are ‘lucky’ enough to see ‘uncontacted natives’.

The findings bear a disturbing resemblance to the ‘human safari’ scandal on the Andaman Islands. However, organizations in Peru are acting quickly to prevent such a situation.

Peruvian authorities and indigenous organization Fenamad are urging local residents to stay away from the tribe, and are setting up a guard post to prevent intruders from making unwanted contact.

They are also working closely together to ensure illegal loggers are caught and the tribe’s land protected.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Of course not all tour operators are pursuing ‘human safaris’, and it’s reassuring to read that some acknowledge the dangers for both tourists and the Mashco-Piro of large numbers of people entering this area. But the unscrupulous operators really need to be exposed, as encouraging tourists to ‘view’ the Mashco-Piro is extremely irresponsible, and potentially deadly.’

 

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