Uncontacted Mashco-Piro tribe filmed in close encounter

August 21, 2013

Uncontacted Mashco Piro people on a riverbank near the Manú National Park. 2011. The photos are the closest sightings of uncontacted peoples ever recorded on camera. © Jean-Paul Van Belle

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Uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians have been sighted on riverbanks in Peru’s remote south-east Amazon on three consecutive occasions.

The encounters were filmed by a member of the local Yine Indian community, in what is the closest video footage of the uncontacted tribe.

The nomadic Mashco-Piro collect turtle eggs from the riverbanks during the dry season and have had sporadic contact with the Yine Indians, who speak a similar dialect.

However, in June this year more than 100 Mashco-Piro – an unusually high number –appeared on the riverbank opposite the Yine community of Monte Salvado in the Madre de Dios department.

Amazon Indian organization FENAMAD and local authorities reacted quickly to the encounter to prevent the spread of disease that could prove fatal for the uncontacted Indians. Gifts of bananas and other objects were exchanged with the tribe, and the Mashco-Piro left the area soon after.

The Yine Indians have blamed widespread logging and the encroachment of drug traffickers for pushing the Mashco-Piro away from their ancestral land.

“We are surrounded by logging concessions that are putting pressure on our land. They are inside our forest taking our game, fish and trees.

‘We share our land with uncontacted Masho-Piro… they are coming frequently to our homes due to pressure from loggers and drug traffickers.

‘Here in Peru there is no support from the government.’

Constant overflights from nearby oil and gas projects are also blamed for scaring game away and forcing uncontacted tribes from their territories.

See Amazon Indian organization AIDESEP’s press release here.

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru