Exposed: World’s ‘most threatened tribe’ outnumbered 10:1 by invaders

May 17, 2012

Little Butterfly and her people, the Awá, are earth’s ‘most threatened tribe’. © Survival International

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The extent of the peril facing the world’s ‘most threatened tribe’ was revealed today, as Brazilian authorities admitted that the Awá tribe are now outnumbered 10:1 inside just one of their reserves.

Officials acknowledged the scale of the emergency after receiving over 20,000 messages of protest following the launch of Survival’s campaign to save the Awá tribe from imminent extinction.

Survival International has learned that a government survey estimates there could be up to 4,500 invaders – ranchers, loggers and settlers – now occupying just one of the four territories inhabited by the Awá tribe, whose total population stands at no more than 450.

The new head of FUNAI (Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department), Dra Marta Azevedo, has confirmed that the plight of the Awá tribe is now her department’s top priority.

Meanwhile Brazil’s Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo has been receiving over 1,000 messages a day since actor Colin Firth launched the campaign.

This aerial graphic shows the extent of illegal logging in one Awá territory. © Survival International

The Awá tribe’s land is being destroyed faster than any other Amazon tribe. As the rainy season ends, one of their main hunting areas is now being targeted by loggers. An Awá man named Armadillo said today, ‘How will we live without the forest?’

Survival Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Brazil is one of the world’s most important countries with one of its most dynamic economies, and it certainly has the resources to protect Awá land. Can it deliver? If not, and the Awá are destroyed, then is this new ‘economic miracle’ just for the rich and powerful? Where does ‘the rule of law’ stand in the hierarchy of money and guns?’