Brazil’s indigenous affairs department (FUNAI) has announced that it will send a team of specialists to investigate the situation of uncontacted Awá, the ‘world’s most threatened tribe’.
This positive step is the first concrete action by the government since Survival supporters inundated it with letters asking it to remove illegal loggers from Awá land.
FUNAI will make three expeditions to the areas where there are signs of uncontacted Awá. They aim to locate the groups and monitor them without making contact.
They will document the threats from illegal loggers. The reports are to be completed in March.
It is thought there could be up to 100 uncontacted Awá. The contacted Awá occasionally report finding signs of them when hunting and fishing.
Wamaxua Awá, who was contacted in 2009, told Survival, ‘There are still other Awá living in the forest. They keep hidden and hunt by night. What will become of them, my brothers, who still live there?’
As the loggers close in, the uncontacted Awá are being forced to flee to avoid contact.
Remains of an abandoned Awá camp were found one year ago, near an illegal logging operation, raising fears that diseases could be transmitted to them by the loggers, which would be fatal to such an isolated group.
The Awá have come under severe pressure as their forest home has been dramatically invaded and destroyed by illegal loggers and settlers.
One told Survival, ‘They are cutting all the trees down! They tie chains to the tractors and they cut everything down. They kill everything in the way. They destroy everything!’