Earth’s most threatened tribe demands help ‘urgently’ amid hunting peril

September 25, 2012

The Awá tribe is one of the world’s few hunter-gatherer peoples. Their survival is now at risk. © Fiona Watson/Survival

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The Awá of Brazil, known as Earth’s most threatened tribe, have written to the country’s Justice Minister telling him to ‘evict invaders urgently’, as news emerges that their hunting livelihood is being held to ransom by the activities of illegal loggers.

The Awá’s letter urges Brazil’s government to evict invaders from their forest, stressing that, ‘Only then will we be satisfied!’

Their written appeal coincides with fresh video testimony from an Awá man denouncing the dramatic effects illegal logging is having on his tribe’s ability to hunt.

The man, called Piar’ima’a (“Little Fish”), says, ‘Children are crying and they are hungry. Where shall I go to hunt? The loggers are here. We can’t go out alone, the loggers could kill us.

‘There are trucks, chainsaws and cars everywhere. So I don’t go out hunting any more. We stay at home. We are sad we can’t go out into the forest.’

Such restrictions are catastrophic for the Awá’s future. The tribe is one of the world’s few nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples, relying on the forest for their food and survival.

Illegal logging is stopping Earth’s most threatened tribe from hunting. © Domenico Pugliese

Now this self-sufficient way of life is being compromised as illegal loggers and settlers close in on their forest territories.

‘I don’t go to their city and steal things’ says Piar’ima’a in the video, ‘so why are the loggers destroying our land?’

Large-scale mining is also affecting the tribe’s ability to hunt.

Earlier this month a judge overturned a ruling that had halted iron ore mining giant Vale’s plan to expand a controversial railway line close to the Awá’s land.

The expansion will result in more noise and more trains, which the Awá say will frighten off the game animals they hunt.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Hunting sits at the heart of every Awá community. It is what they do. It is how they survive. Brazil knows it must put the Awá first, before it’s too late. It is time for real actions. Sadly, at the moment the only visible actions are those of the illegal invaders.’

Note to Editors:

Download a copy of the Awá tribe’s letter to Brazil’s Justice Minister (pdf, 164 KB)

Translation of the Awá’s letter:

‘We Awá-Guajá would like to know when you will evict the invaders from our forest. We know you have decided to make the Awá-Guajá a priority now. 
We hope you will send people to evict these invaders, urgently! Only then will we be satisfied!’