Gleison Miranda, Funai/AP
The 'uncontacted Indians' of the Envira, photographed during an overflight in May 2008,
are located in the Terra Indigena Kampa e Isolados do Envira, Acre state, Brazil, close
to the border of Peru. (AP)

Body-Heat Sensors Are the Latest Tribal Preservation Effort

November 19, 2008 01:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Body-heat sensors will soon help Brazil find and protect indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest, a crucial development in tribal life preservation efforts.

Sensing Survival

Survival International, an organization working to support tribal peoples, estimates that there are close to 100 "isolated tribes remaining in the world, with half of them in Peru and Brazil," reports Emily Dunn of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. According to Dunn, native tribes face continuous threats from modern life—newly constructed roads and dams, and outside diseases, for example.

But tribal groups will soon have an added defense: planes outfitted with body-heat sensors that will be used by the Brazilian government to find "and protect" indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest, reported the Associated Press. Pinpointing where tribes live could "help the National Indian Foundation create reserves where loggers or farmers are barred," allowing tribal peoples to continue their way of life undisturbed.

Loss of land to intruders is a huge treat to tribes, but new infrastructure also plays a part in the tribes' deterioration, say environmentalists. Others feel that Brazil's plans to construct dams and a highway in the Amazon are necessary for regional conservation.

The high-tech planes are the latest development in the Amazon's ongoing tribal saga. In June 2008, an Al Jazeera interview with photographer Jose Carlos Meirelles led to charges from several media outlets that the he and Survival International made false claims that they had discovered and photographed a previously unknown indigenous tribe in the rainforest.

The original stories about the tribe simply got out of hand, says Survival International expert Fiona Watson. “Some of the media got very carried away and started talking about undiscovered tribes,” she said to LiveScience.

Background: 'Photo of Amazon tribe not a hoax'

Opinion & Analysis: 'Media Fooled'

Related Topics: Brazilian environment minister, Amazon development

Reference: The Amazon


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