Perenco in press storm about uncontacted tribes

A Yaminahua girl in south-east Peru. The Yaminahua live near members of the uncontacted Murunahua tribe.
A Yaminahua girl in south-east Peru. The Yaminahua live near members of the uncontacted Murunahua tribe.
© David Hill/Survival

Anglo-French oil company Perenco is caught in a press storm over plans to build a pipeline into uncontacted tribes’ land in Peru in one of the most biodiverse parts of South America.

Perenco’s plans for the pipeline, recently revealed, were reported in leading Peruvian newspapers such as the Lima daily El Comercio which highlighted the ‘controversy’ over the company’s plans and the opposition to them. The pipeline plans were also reported by La Primera in a story headlined ‘Danger: pipeline’ which described how the company is ‘ignoring the uncontacted tribes’ and failing to ‘take into account the negative impacts’ of the pipeline on the ‘exceptional wealth of fauna and flora’ in the region.

Perenco claims the tribes don’t exist, but a recent statement from Peru’s Energy Ministry admitted that their existence was ‘possible’ and requested the company to prepare an ‘anthropological contingency plan’ in case of contact. The head of the government’s indigenous affairs department, INDEPA, has promised to form a ‘team of experts’ to investigate further, according to a press report.

Perenco is chaired by Francois Perrodo, an Oxford University graduate now estimated to be one of the wealthiest men in France. His sister, Nathalie, runs the Chateau Labegorce in Margaux.

Survival has collected a great deal of evidence of the uncontacted tribes’ existence in the region where Perenco is working.