Isolated Tribe Village Documented for the First Time In Peru’s Alto Purús Region

September 2014:


Abandoned village of isolated indigenous people in the Purús Communal Reserve (Source: Purús Communal Reserve).

Two clusters of houses used by isolated indigenous tribes have been discovered inside the Purús Communal Reserve. The tribes were known to live in the region, as members are occasionally seen during the dry season when they travel from the remote headwaters to the larger rivers to collect turtle eggs. This is the first evidence, however, that they live in semi-permanent villages, providing invaluable information on their territory and land use needed to develop effective plans for their protection. The Purús Communal Reserve serves as a buffer zone between the Alto Purús National Park and an area of settled indigenous communities on the Purús River (see map).

The two small villages are separated by approximately 200 meters and are located on hilltops, perhaps as a defense strategy. The first village appeared abandoned while the second is active and includes a large garden with banana trees and corn among other crops.


Isolated tribe village and recently cleared garden inside the Purús Communal Reserve (Source: Purús Communal Reserve).

They were discovered in late August during an overflight organized by the Vice-ministry of Interculturality of Peru’s Ministry of Culture (Peru’s agency in charge of protecting isolated tribes) and in coordination with the Public Ministry, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (Sernanp). UAC’s sister organization, ProPurús, provided technical support during the flight.

In June, a group of previously isolated people initiated contact with an indigenous community on Brazil’s Envira River. The objective of this overflight was to document illegal activities in response to the theory that the tribespeople had come from Peru and initiated contact in order to avoid continued violence with drug smugglers. In addition to the Purús Communal Reserve, the overflight covered remote rivers inside the Alto Purús National Park and the Murunahua Territorial Reserve for Isolated Tribes. Isolated tribes living in these protected areas continue to be impacted not only by drug trafficking but illegal logging, oil and gas exploration, and road construction. UAC and ProPurús are working with the Peru government, indigenous organizations, and NGO’s on both sides of the Peru – Brazil border to develop and implement protection plans for the region, considered the largest contiguous territory for isolated tribes anywhere on the planet.

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