News

News

New Conservation Concession Protects 112,850 acres for Yurua Tribes

June 2019: The indigenous tribes of Peru’s Yurua River region have been granted a conservation concession to protect 112,850 acres (45,699 hectares) of remote, intact lowland jungle near the border with Acre, Brazil.

Isolated Tribes featured in National Geographic

October 2018: National Geographic’s October cover story explores threats to isolated indigenous tribes in the Amazon. The story is divided into two sections: Brazil and Peru. The Peru part was written by UAC’s director Chris Fagan.

Peru’s Interoceanic: the Most Corrupt Highway in the World

July 2018: Constructed in 2012, the Interoceanic Highway connects western Brazil with Peru’s Madre de Dios state. It was promoted as a necessary investment to promote trade and transit between the two countries while improving the standard of living of rural Peruvians.

Alto Purús: Transit Route through Brazil Promoted as Alternative to New Road

April 2018: UAC recently led an investigation of a new transit route to connect the Alto Purús region with the rest of Peru. Called the “multimodal,” the route utilizes existing

Peru Ignores Pope’s Plea for Indigenous Rights, Approves Road Law

January 2018: During his recent visit to the Peruvian jungle town of Puerto Maldonado, Pope Francis gave an impassioned speech about the importance of protecting theAmazon forest and respecting the rights

Asháninka Communities Receive Title to Lands

September 2017 After a decade long struggle, the Asháninka communities of Beu, Oori, and Koshireni received titles to their lands during a ceremony in Pucallpa earlier this

Violence Highlights Dangers to Peru’s Isolated Tribes

December 2017: Last month in the remote headwaters of Peru’s Alto Purús River, a young indigenous man was shot with an arrow by a member of the Mashco Piro isolated tribe.The attack occurred while the man was sharing food with several members of the tribe.

UAC Leads Expedition to Raise Awareness of Threats to Peru’s Isolated Tribes

June 2017 In May, UAC led a team affiliated with National Geographic Magazine to remote parts of the Alto Purús region as part of its campaign to raise awareness of the

Land Title Secured for the Asháninka Community of Tomajao on the Tamaya River

March 2017 After more than a decade of field and legal work by community leaders and Ucayali’s titling agency, the Tomajao Indigenous Community has finally received

Congressional Commission Rules Against Purús Highway

March 2017 Peru’s Congressional Commission of Andean, Amazonian, and Afro-Peruvians on Environment & Ecology has ruled against the proposed

Conservation Concession Offers Unique Research Opportunities in the Purús

November 2016 Last month, UAC staff visited the Mabosinfron conservation concession and its newly constructed research station. The concession covers 6,700 hectares and is

Indigenous Leader Seeks Support in Fight Against Highway

September 2016 The president of the Alto Purús indigenous federation (FECONAPU), Emilio Montes Bardales, calls for support from conservation and indigenous rights groups in his fight against a proposed highway. During a recent interview, Mr. Montes expressed his utmost concern for highway bill #75/2016-CR, recently submitted to Peru’s congress,

Police, Forestry Officials Arrested in Illegal Logging Sting in Peru

April 2016 Just a few months since Peru enacted its new forestry and wildlife law, a sting operation organized by Peru’s High Commission Against Illegal Logging resulted in the arrests of 19 people suspected in the laundering of illegal timber from the Ucayali region for export the United States and Mexico. On the ground operations were conducted by special environmental police officers based in the city of Pucallpa.

Business a usual for illegal loggers on Peru’s Tamaya River

April 2016 A year and a half since the murders of conservationist Edwin Chota and three other indigenous leaders, rampant illegal logging continues on the Tamaya River in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. “The wood is illegal,” says an anonymous logger with a grin, pointing to a giant raft of 1000 logs floating in a lagoon near the Asháninka community of Cametsa Kipatsi. “No, we don’t have a management plan or permits, but we pay (a bribe) to pass the post downstream. When the rains come we will bring another 2000 logs that we already cut in the forest.”

Lake Management Plan Completed in the Purús

January 2016 The communities of Conta and San Jose have developed a plan to sustainably manage fish in Lake Pernambuco. The management plan is the first of its kind among the 24 indigenous communities located on the Purús River outside of the Alto Purús National Park and Communal Reserve. Community members assisted expert consultants to study the lake’s water quality,

Nat Geo Examines Recent Contact with Mashco-Piro

October 2015 An October feature by National Geographic (see article here) explores recent contact events between the Mashco-Piro isolated tribe and local villagers in southern Peru asked the question “why?”.  The Mashco-Piro, or simply Mashco, are considered the most aggressive and dangerous of the handful of tribes living in isolation in the Purús – Manu Conservation Corridor.

Peru announces plan to protect isolated tribe near Manu National Park

July 2015: Peru’s Ministry of Culture has announced a “special attention plan” (Plan de Atención Especial) to protect a group of isolated tribespeople living along the border of Manu National Park. The group, estimated at 30 individuals, is part of the much larger Mashco-Piro tribe that inhabits parts of Manu and the Alto Purús national parks, and adjacent areas in Acre, Brazil.

UAC’s work to protect isolated tribes highlighted in Science magazine

June 2015 Science magazine has published an extensive expose on issues surrounding isolated tribes in the southwestern Amazon in light of recent contact events between the tribes and local villagers. The articles are divided into two sections—Peru and Brazil. The Peru section was informed by an April expedition to the Alto Purús led by UAC and its Peruvian sister organization ProPurús.

Frustrations Grow after Communities are Raided by Isolated Tribes

March 2015: A UAC and ProPurús expedition to the remote headwaters of the Alto Purús River found growing frustration among local people towards isolated tribes living in nearby forests. In October and November of last year, four communities on a tributary of the Alto Purús were raided by isolated tribespeople who broke into houses and took clothing, machetes, pots and pans, as well as a short wave radio and solar panels.

Peru Passes Resolution to Title Saweto after Murders

January 2015 After a 12 year struggle to obtain title to their homelands which cost the lives of four of it’s leaders who were murdered by loggers in September, last month the Peru government finally passed a resolution legally recognizing 80,000 hectares as belonging to the Ashéninka community of Saweto. Furthermore, officials have promised to travel to Saweto by helicopter in February to present the title to Saweto’s newly elected leaders in a community assembly. Upper Amazon Conservancy and its Peruvian sister organization, ProPurús, has been helping Saweto in their quest for land recognition and justice for three years. The struggle has been resisted by illegal loggers benefiting from open access to Saweto’s timber, as well as corrupt, pro-logging officials …

December News: Saweto at Climate Conference, Plotkin TED talk, Alto Purús Resource Use Studies

December 2014 For links to articles related to Saweto and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change currently taking place in Lima, click here.   https://www.ted.com/talks/mark_plotkin_what_the_people_of_the_amazon_know_that_you_don_t?language=en “The greatest and most endangered species in the Amazon rainforest is not the jaguar or the harpy eagle,” says Mark Plotkin, “It’s the isolated and uncontacted tribes.” In an energetic and sobering talk, the ethnobotanist brings us into the world of the forest’s indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their shamans use to heal. He outlines the challenges and perils that are endangering them — and their wisdom — and urges us to protect this irreplaceable repository of knowledge. Click here for full screen version of Plotkin’s 16 minute talk.  University of Texas PhD …

Saweto Receives Soros Foundation Award for Environmental Activism

November 2014 Diana Ríos Rengifo, 21, gave a stirring speech to the human rights and environmental advocates who cheered her acceptance of the Alexander Soros Foundation’s Environmental Activism award on behalf of her community of Saweto and the four assassinated leaders: Edwin Chota, Leoncio Meléndez, Francisco Pinedo, and her father, Jorge Ríos. For her part, Diana presented Alexander Soros with a necklace from her Ashéninka people, and invited him to the community when he comes to South America in April. Diana also shared her resolve to continue fighting for title to her lands, and her continued worries for the safety of her people given she believes at least 10 other killers continue at large beyond the two men in jail …

New Alliance Created to Protect the Alto Purús

October 2014: UAC and ProPurús have initiated a new project to prevent illegal activities and promote sustainable resource use on the La Novia River, a tributary of the Alto Purús River near the town of Puerto Esperanza. The project’s primary objective is to create a working alliance between the Conta indigenous community, the Mabosinfrom conservation concession, and the Purús Communal Reserve which is administered by Peru’s protected areas agency, Sernanp. It is a unique opportunity to bring together these diverse stakeholders to create the region’s first-ever indigenous-mestizo (non-indigenous) conservation alliance with the goal of protecting one of the most threatened parts of the greater Alto Purús region. In October, partners convened to discuss the new alliance and elect a leadership committee. To mark …

Peru Promises to Title Saweto in Response to the Murders

September 2014: After several weeks of silence, Peru’s government is finally responding to the tragic and senseless murders of four leaders from the Ashéninka community of Alto Tamaya-Saweto on September 1st. Last week, a large committee of senior government officials, led by Peru’s Prime Minister, Ana Jara, traveled in helicopters from the city of Pucallpa to Saweto to meet with the villagers and discuss their needs in the wake of losing four leaders, including their chief, Edwin Chota. The commission included Ministers and Vice Ministers from various government agencies including Education, Housing, the Interior, the Environment, Health, Women and Vulnerable Populations, as well as the Executive Director of Peru’s new Forestry Agency, SERFOR. After touring the community and murder site …

Murder in the Peruvian Rainforest

September 9, 2014: Last week, Edwin Chota, leader of the Asheninka community of Saweto, was murdered along with Jorge Ríos Pérez, Leoncio Quinticima Melendez, and Francisco Pinedo as they traveled on a forest trail to attend a meeting in the Brazilian community ofApiwtxa. The men had spent over a decade fighting to title Saweto, and they were killed just days after a visit from Peruvian forestry officials to document continued illegal logging on their lands. We are working with the widows and family members of the four slain leaders to ensure that the government conducts a full investigation and the perpetrators are brought to justice. We look forward to working together with all of Saweto’s friends and supporters to carry on …

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

September 2014: 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 …

UAC Responds to Isolated Tribes Crisis

August 2014: UAC and its sister organization, ProPurús, are implementing emergency contingency plans in response to the previously isolated tribe initiating contact with villagers on the Envira River near the Brazil – Peru border. Twenty-four members of the tribe have chosen to stay and live near the village, at least for now. The rest have returned to the forest. Earlier this month, ProPurús staff led a team of isolated tribes experts from Peru’s Ministry of Culture to the Yurua River, located near the Envira, to conduct emergency training for local villagers on how to react if similar contact events happen there. Peru hopes to learn from errors made during the Envira contact, when seven tribespeople became sick. Fortunately, Brazil’s isolated tribes agency, …

Alto Purús is most important protected area for carbon storage in Peru

A new study by Stanford University found that the forests of the Alto Purús National Park store more carbon than any other protected area in Peru. The groundbreaking report, complete with high-resolution 3-D maps, provides a new way for Peru to fight climate change. Long recognized for its critical role in protecting Amazonian fauna and flora, as well as some of the world’s last isolated tribes, the study highlights the Park’s importance as a carbon sink. By quantifying carbon storage in vegetation throughout the entire country, the maps provide a tool for prioritizing strategies for preventing deforestation and slowing climate change. The results of the two-year study will become particularly important in negotiating prices for carbon offset projects. A limiting …

New video of recent contact event on the Envira River

July 2014: Brazil released a video documenting the contact event between a formerly isolated tribe and villagers on the Envira River. See video here The tribe explained that they had come from across the border in the Alto Purús National Park and had suffered attacked from armed non-indigenous people, most likely narcotic traffickers. Several tribesman have machetes, indicating previous contact with people with access to manufactured goods. Several members of the group were treated for the flu. It is not known whether it spread to the rest of the tribe. With no immunity to illnesses from the outside world, these contact events often result in devastating epidemics.  Additional information available here.  

Isolated Tribe Initiates Contact with Villagers near Peru-Brazil Border

July 21, 2014: Update: Members of the tribe that initiated contact with villagers on Brazil’s Envira River contracted influenza during contact. They were treated by FUNAI medical personnel and have since rejoined the rest of their tribe in the forest. FUNAI reports that the tribe sought contact to escape recent violent attacks by narcotic traffickers who use these remote borderlands to transport coca paste from Peru to Brazil.  See Survival International’s website for more information. See UAC’s original post from July 15th below. July 15, 2014: In June, a tribe of voluntarily isolated people, also referred to as “uncontacteds,” emerged from the forest and entered a remote Ashaninka indigenous village on Brazil’s Envira River. The group of approximately 60 men, …

Oil and Gas Exploration in the Yurua Threatens Voluntarily Isolated Tribes

February 2014 After an aggressive publicity campaign orchestrated by Peru’s state-owned oil company, Perúpetro, directed at indigenous leaders of the Yurua region, the Yurua’s indigenous federation, Aconadiysh, signed a preliminary agreement to allow oil and gas exploration in their lands. Concession 169 covers approximately 400,000 hectares of extremely remote and relatively undisturbed forest along the Ucayali, Peru and Acre, Brazil border. (See map). In addition to overlapping with a dozen indigenous communities and state forestry lands, the concession includes 100,000 hectares that have been proposed as a communal reserve for the indigenous communities. UAC and its sister organization, ProPúrus, have been working with the Yurua’s indigenous communities since 2006. In late 2013, we began a collaborative project with Aconadiysh and Peru’s …

UAC Publishes Guard Manual for the Alto Purús Park

September 2013: Upper Amazon Conservancy and its sister organization, ProPurús, have published a manual for guards working in the Alto Purús National Park and the adjacent Purús Communal Reserve. It is the first of its kind for the Park and Reserve and provides an important reference guide and tool for the official guards as well as volunteer “vigilance committees” that help protect the buffer zone.  It includes all relevant information on the roles and responsibilities of both official and volunteer guards, the laws and regulations for the Park and Purús Communal Reserve, protocols for working in areas with voluntarily isolated tribes and those in initial contact, and background information on Peru’s protected areas system. It also includes the datasheets used …

Tribes in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact Lack Protection and Support

September 2013: Members of the Mashco-Piro isolated tribe appeared near communities outside the Alto Purús and Manu National Parks on three separate occasions in June and July, unusual behavior for the usually reclusive nomadic hunters and gatherers. Experts speculate they may be angry or distressed by uncontrolled turtle egg collection inside their territories by outsiders, and are demanding food and manufactured goods from communities as a form of compensation. (Tribes throughout the Amazon are dependent on turtle eggs for nourishment during the dry season.) Others believe that its simply a case of their desire for manufactured goods growing greater than their fear of outsiders. Regardless of why, it is very likely that the behavior will continue and sightings and actual encounters …

Leaving the Forest: Recent Encounters with Isolated Tribes in Southeastern Peru

August 2013: In three separate instances in June and July, members of the Mashco-Piro tribe left the forest’s interior and appeared near communities outside the Alto Purús and Manu National Parks. Other than some initial displays of aggression, they acted peacefully and left after a few days, taking with them crops from the community gardens and metal tools and other manufactured goods from the villagers’ houses. The Mashco-Piro are Peru’s largest tribe of indigenous people living in voluntary isolation, also referred to as “uncontacteds,” and total perhaps as many as 1,000 people. They live in smaller familial clans in remote headwater streams and historically have avoided contact with outsiders, choosing to remain hidden in the forest. Occasionally they are seen …

Corruption and Bribes Behind Purús Highway Bill According to Report

  May 2013: A recent investigation by Global Witness uncovered widespread government corruption, bribery and egregious conflicts of interest behind the Purús highway bill. UAC helped with the report as part of our campaign to publicize the highway’s potentially devastating impacts on the protected areas, isolated tribes, and settled indigenous communities of the Alto Purús region. Read the full report here. Visit Global Witness’ website to read the press release. Read more about Global Witness’ report on Servindi.org (Spanish) See The Guardian’s article, “Peru Funded Illegal Amazon Road, Claims Global Witness”

Upper Amazon Conservancy Featured in National Geographic

April 2013: April’s edition of National Geographic magazine features the work of Upper Amazon Conservancy and its Peruvian sister organization, ProPurús, in an exposé on illegal logging in southeastern Peru. In 2011, UAC and ProPurús staff led a National Geographic team on two trips to the field to document illegal mahogany logging and its impacts on Peru’s protected areas and indigenous people. The article focuses on the Alto Purús region, where UAC has worked since 2002. The region is home to several indigenous tribes in voluntary isolation and initial contact with the outside world. It also harbors Peru’s largest stands of mahogany, one of the world’s rarest and most valuable timber species.   The story also describes a trip to …

Titling the Native Community of Saweto: a Challenge for Social Justice and Conservation in the Ucayali Borderlands

Pucallpa, March 2013: Illegal logging, drug trafficking and invasions by neighboring Brazilians are the major problems affecting the native community of Saweto, located in the headwaters of the Tamaya River along the Peru – Brazil border. Saweto, which is comprised of 33 families of the Ashéninka tribe, was formally recognized by the Peruvian government as a native community in 2003. The recognition was an important step in legitimizing the community and its chief, Edwin Chota’s, fight against the social and environmental problems caused by illegal activities on their ancestral lands. Since 2003, Chota has filed numerous complaints about the illegal activities to Ucayali’s forestry officials, but with very little success. A decade later, loggers continue working with impunity in Saweto, as documented by …

Evidence of Isolated Tribe Found in the Murunahua Territorial Reserve

March 2013: A monitoring patrol of the upper Yurua River uncovered evidence of people in voluntary isolation living inside the Murunahua Territorial Reserve. The patrol was a collaborative effort between the Alto Purús National Park, local community vigilance committees, protection agents from the Organización Regional Aidesep Ucayali (ORAU), the Yurua indigenous federation, Aconadiysh, and UAC’s sister organization, ProPurús.   The expedition was organized to investigate reports from local people of illegal logging inside the Reserve. While traveling upstream, members discovered what they believed was a logging trail leading up the river bank and into the forest. Approximately 10 meters from the river they found the camp. It was comprised of  eight shelters constructed of palm fronds each with its own cooking fire. …

Expedition Highlights Natural Riches of the Purús Communal Reserve

February 2013: UAC’s Peruvian partner, ProPurús, participated in an expedition to the La Novia River in January to evaluate the conservation status of the Purús Communal Reserve. The activity was part of ProPurús’ partnership with Peru’s protected areas agency, SERNANP, to conduct patrols and train local communities to work as volunteer guards in protecting both the Communal Reserve and adjacent Alto Purús National Park. The expedition found no evidence of recent illegal logging or road building. Instead, they were able  to document the presence of several rare and endangered species, including several species of monkeys, various birds such a macaws, toucans and currasow, and an enormous tapir. Local people use the Reserve for hunting, fishing and other subsistence activities; however, in …

Illegal Road Discovered in Alto Purús Protected Areas

February 2013: Local authorities have filed a formal complaint against a group called the Central Committee of Agricultural Producers for constructing a road inside two protected areas near the town of Puerto Esperanza in Peru’s Purús Province. The committee is comprised of a small group of non-indigenous men and women who are promoting the construction of a road to connect Puerto Esperanza with the town of Iñapari in neighboring Madre de Dios state. A bill to construct the road is pending in Congress. An investigation documented the presence of unauthorized construction workers, camps, tree cutting and large-scale forest fires. By beginning construction themselves, the pro-road group hopes to generate political support for the bill by making it appear that local people support …

Video Shows Extraordinary Wildlife Activity on the Las Piedras River

February 2013: Amazon Naturalist Paul Rosolie used remote cameras to document extraordinary wildlife activity near the Las Piedras River in Madre de Dios, Peru. See the video here. The Las Piedras River begins inside the Alto Purús National Park and flows through some of the least disturbed forests in the entire Amazon Basin. (See Map).    

Advisor to Congressman Tubino Investigated for Links to Accused Drug Trafficker

January 2013: Congressman Carlos Tubino, the main proponent of a controversial proposal to construct a road through the Alto Purús National Park, fired his advisor Javier León amidst charges linking León to money laundering and drug trafficking.   Congressman Carlos Tubino claimed to be “shocked” to learn of his advisor’s alleged role in perpetrating fraud and laundering drug money.  (See article from Peru’s El Comercio.) Tubino’s legal advisor, Javier León, is being investigated for his business relationship to the accused drug trafficker, Fernando Zevallos. The scandal highlights the pervasive influence of drug trafficking in Peruvian society and politics. The investigation is especially damaging to Tubino’s efforts to obtain congressional approval to construct a road to connect Puerto Esperanza, Purús with Iñapari, …

Proposed Purús Road Criticized During Congressional Roundtable

September 2012: On September 14, Peru’s Congress held a roundtable meeting organized by congresswoman Veronika Mendoza Frisch and the indigenous association AIDESEP. The objective of the meeting was to debate the social, legal, economic and environmental impacts of a Bill proposing the construction of a terrestrial connection, either a road or train, between the towns of Puerto Esperanza, capital al the Purús, and Iñapari, in Madre de Dios department. Special attention was given to impacts to the region’s tribes in voluntary isolation. The meeting was attended by the Bill’s author, congressman Carlos Tubino; Quijandría Gabriel, Vice-Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources for the Ministry of Environment; Ivan Lanegra, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Intercultural Affairs for the Ministry …

Leaders Sign Declaration to expand the Ucayali – Acre Conservation Corridor by Titling Ashéninka Lands

August 2012: Members of the Ucayali Regional Government of Ucayali, along withindigenous leaders and members of non-governmental organizations working on both sides of the Ucayali – Acre, Brazil border have signed a document declaring the importance of titling Ashéninka indigenous lands located in the upper Tamaya River. The declaration was signed on August 17th in the city of Pucallpa at the conclusion of ProPurús’ bi-national workshop, “The Role of Titling Indigenous Communities in the Conservation of the  Ucayali-Acre border: the Case of the Alto Tamaya.” The workshop was part of ProPurús’ partnership with the community of Alto Tamaya – Saweto to title their traditional lands and integrate their community into the corridor of conservation areas and indigenous lands that runs along …

Evidence of Isolated Tribe Found in Area of Proposed Highway

August 2012: The indigenous federation of the Madre de Dios River (FENAMAD) and Peru’s Protected Areas Agency (SERNANP) report finding evidence of isolated tribes in the area being proposed for the Puerto Esperanza – Iñapari highway. The evidence, found during a July expedition, included trails and branches positioned to block trails. See full article by Mongabay.com for details. The tribe has been documented in the region several times over the past few years. These photograph were taken between 2004 and 2008 in the Alto Purús National Park, near route of the proposed highway.    

Ucayali Loggers Using Indigenous Communities in the Alto Purús to Launder Mahogany

July 2012: In February, Peru’s agency in charge of forestry and wildlife supervision, OSINFOR, sanctioned and fined two Alto Purús indigenous communities over $50,000 (US) each for logging infractions. In both cases the logging companies used the community permits to “clean” and transport illegal wood cut elsewhere. Mahogany laundering is common practice in southeastern Peru where the last remaining stands of mature trees are found only in very remote regions like the Alto Purús. Rather than work legally with communities, and pay high transportation costs (there are no roads, all wood is flown out) and comply with efficiency and reforestation requirements, loggers often choose to work illegally in protected areas and indigenous lands. However in order to transport and sell the illegal wood, they need …

Peru’s Ministries Declare Purús Highway Unconstitutional

June 2012: Three of Peru’s ministries have declared their opposition to the Puerto Esperanza – Iñapari Highway. In separate letters to Congress, the ministry of the Environment, Culture and Transportation announced their unequivocal opposition to the proposal due to various concerns including the highway’s potential impact on isolated indigenous tribes. The highway is supported by a handful of mestizo living in the region but vehemently opposed by the indigenous majority. Congress is expected to vote on the proposal in August.

Peru’s Politicians Ignore Indigenous Rights and Push for “Highway of the Dead”

May 2012:Members of Peru’s Congress have submitted a bill which would declare a controversial highway project “a public necessity and a national interest priority.” The bill was signed by 23 members and sent to Congress in April despite adamant opposition from the indigenous tribes whose ancestral lands the road would cross. (See bill sent to Congress.) The highway is planned for the Alto Purús region, a remote and  roadless area of world-class biological and cultural diversity. It is among the least disturbed parts of the entire Amazon Basin. Proponents are pushing for a 300 kilometer road to connect the small town of Puerto Esperanza, in Ucayali department, to the InterOceanic Highway in the town of Iñapari in Madre de Dios …

Indigenous Leaders Write Letters Rejecting the Purús-Iñapari Highway and Demanding Expulsion of Controversial Priest

April 2012: In separate letters to authorities, the Alto Purús indigenous federation, FECONAPU, and community chiefs have reiterated their rejection of a proposed highway and demanded the immediate expulsion of the Italian priest behind the proposal. The first letter was addressed to Peru’s congressional commission on foreign relations.  In it the indigenous leaders request government support to improve living conditions in the region. Specifically the letter asks for improved health care, education, transportation, environmental protection and other support needed to confront problems affecting the region’s inhabitants. The Alto Purús has a population of roughly 4,500 inhabitants, 80% of whom are indigenous. Divided among 47 communities, the indigenous people practice traditional subsistence activities such as hunting, fishing, gathering forest resources and …

New Conservation Concession Approved in the Alto Purús

May 2012: The Ucayali regional government has approved the first conservation concession for the Purús province. The concession covers 6,700 hectares of lowland forest that borders the Purús Communal Reserve and titled indigenous lands. It will be managed by the local organization, MABOSINFRON, which plans to develop research and other projects that promote the conservation of vulnerable flora and fauna species. MABOSINFRON is comprised of mestizo leaders from nearby Puerto Esperanza who have pledged to work with guards from the Reserve as well as neighboring indigenous communities to protect the area from continued illegal mahogany logging. According to the director of Purús Communal Reserve, Rafael Pino: “For us, it is extremely important that MABOSINFRON implement activities that help recover threatened timber …

New Photos of Isolated Tribe Raises Concerns About Their Future

February 2, 2012: New photos of “uncontacted” people in southeastern Peru raise serious concerns about Peru’s ability to ensure the safety of some of the world’s last indigenous tribes living in voluntary isolation. The striking photos, released by Survival International, show several members of the Mashco Piro tribe sitting on a river bank outside Manu National Park. See the photos and report released by Survival International. The Mashco Piro inhabit the extremely remote forests of Manu and Alto Purús National Park, which together comprise one of the least disturbed regions in the entire Amazon Basin if not the world. Using small streams to criss-cross the dense forest on their seasonal migrations, the Mashco Piro have chosen to live in isolation, …

Traditional Indigenous Way of Life Threatened by Proposed Road in Purús

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 7, 2012 PUERTO ESPERANZA, Perú — Local indigenous communities and their federation, FECONAPU, are fighting construction of a proposed road through the Purús region that would threaten their traditional way of life. The proposed road would connect the Purús, the very headwaters of the Amazon and one of the world’s most remote, most intact and most culturally important natural areas, with the newly paved Interoceanic Highway in Madre de Dios. Roads in the Peruvian Amazon are well documented highways not just for people, but for exponential increases in ilicit resource extraction, from illegal mining, poaching and logging to drug trafficking. Even the best laid plans have gone astray in recent years, as the agencies charged …

Peruvian Government Releases Dramatic Video of Isolated Tribes

November, 2011: This recent video is a poignant reminder that the so-called “Uncontacted Indians” of the Peruvian Amazon are voluntarily-isolated: they are little understood, inadequately represented, and often, the least appreciated of the Amazon’s remarkable cultural and natural heritage. Videos like this one, taken in the Manú region, which neighbors the Alto Purús, highlight the importance of protecting the wild places where such tribes still roam. [youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYaqGiCgoWc” width=”500″ autohide=”1″] Following the release of the video, the Peruvian government, under the newly-elected Ollanta Humala, closed this region off to tourists and the general public, in an effort to protect the voluntarily isolated Mascho-Piro people from disease or violence. Roger Rumrill, an advisor to the Peruvian Environment Ministry, said:  “The policy of this government is one of permanent  inclusion …

UAC Workshops Train Official and Volunteer Park Guards To Patrol Reserves & Protect Natural Resources

August 2011 Together with the Peruvian Park Service, SERNANP, the Upper Amazon Conservancy and its Peruvian partner, ProPurús, have been helping to train official guards of the Alto Purús National Park. We also are the primary supporter and trainer of ‘vigilance committees’ made up of indigenous men and women from local communities surrounding the Park. Thus far, the committees have been a resounding success. Communities learn to patrol their most valuable assets: their natural resources, while at the same time compiling baseline data and information that allows for prosecution of illegal logging and other ilicit activity in these highly sensitive remote areas.   The concept is simple: Together with indigenous leaders, we help train local community guards and give them …

Upper Amazon Conservancy Investigation Exposes Illegal Logging in Murunahua Reserve

August 2011 Illegal Mahogany Loggers Penetrate Heart of Uncontacted Tribal Reserve in Peru UCAYALI, Peru — An Upper Amazon Conservancy investigation has exposed an illegal logging camp and an expansive network of forest roads along the border of the Murunahua Reserve for Uncontacted Peoples. The road system is part of a greater clandestine network that has been building steadily for the past decade in the Yurua River region of the Amazon headwaters in Peru – threatening the survival of some of the last remaining tribes of uncontacted people on Earth. Upper Amazon Conservancy staff, working together with indigenous leaders, partner NGOs and the Peruvian park service, have repeatedly, and explicitly, documented widespread illegal logging in the reserve and the surrounding region. The Murunahua Territorial Reserve, …

Upper Amazon Conservancy Leading Research on Peru’s Coca Frontier

July 2011 Upper Amazon Conservancy director Chris Fagan and Professor David Salisbury of the University of Richmond, a member of UAC’s advisory board, recently co-authored a study, published this month in GeoJournal, on the advancing coca frontier in Peru’s Amazon region and its mounting socio-economic and conservation impacts. Peru is now believed to be the world’s largest exporter of coca, the plant used in the production of cocaine. Large-scale coca cultivation is penetrating once remote and isolated areas of the Purús, followed by traffickers who access the backcountry by the same river trails and forest roads used by illegal loggers. The roads and access pave the way for further environmental destruction, settlement and illegal activity, and threaten the sanctity of …

ProPurús is Born

January 2011 The Upper Amazon Conservancy is excited to announce the creation of ProPurús, its Peruvian partner organization and registered non-profit group that will support our efforts on the ground in Lima and the Upper Amazon region surrounding the Alto Purús National Park. ProPurús will be based in Lima, with field offices in Puerto Esperanza and Puerto Breu on the Alto Purús and Yurúa rivers, respectively. The group will be led by experienced Peruvian conservationist Francisco Estremadoyro, a native of Lima who has for decades has deftly navigated both the concrete jungle of Peru’s sprawling capital city and the real thing in the Amazon basin. Estremadoyro, based in Lima, will work closely with José Borgo, who has spent his life …

Help Wanted: Join Forces with our Indigenous Partners in the Upper Amazon

August 2011 The Upper Amazon Conservancy and its Peruvian partner, ProPurús, need help. We are a small organization but growing quickly, with an office in Lima and two field offices in the greater Alto Purús region.  We pride ourselves in spending as much time as possible in the field, where we work with local people to understand the social, ethical and environmenal issues facing the region. Our efforts are gaining international attention, we’ve trained dozens of voluntary park guards in the communities surrounding the Alto Purús and our constant, day-to-day presence in these remote areas assures the perserverance and dedication necessary to assure our goals are attained. Right now, we’re actively recruiting graduate students and researchers interested in pursuing research on …

Narco-Traffickers Threaten Tribes Near Purús

August 2011 “SAO PAULO (AP) — Suspected Peruvian drug traffickers recently overran a base of the National Indian Foundation in a remote region of Brazil’s Amazon, the foundation said Tuesday. The base was “invaded and looted late July by Peruvian drug traffickers” who were armed and chased away members of an isolated tribe living in the area, said the statement from the foundation, which is known as Funai and oversees indigenous issues in Brazil.”   Voluntarily isolated tribes everywhere are facing new and unprecedented pressures – and the region near the Peru-Brazil border, very near to the Purús, has recently come under international scrutiny. As pressure mounts, Peru’s protected areas, including the Alto Purús, will become ever more important. Read a follow-up from …

Upper Amazon Conservancy Making Headlines

June 2011 The Upper Amazon Conservancy prides itself on the time it spends in the field, working hand in hand with indigenous groups, local community leaders and the Peruvian Park Service. UAC’s grassroots efforts are increasingly attracting the attention of a range of media outlets, from  National Geographic to the Miami Herald, allowing us to help raise awareness of issues effecting the Purús, its unspoiled ecosystems and the voluntarily-isolated tribes of the region. Our efforts are paying off. From National Geographic : “Peru says it will bolster protections for uncontacted tribes roaming the deep Amazon after a public row erupted last week that sent indigenous affairs officials scrambling for cover. The debate began in recent days after officials from the outgoing …

UAC Response to Wikileaks Cable on Peruvian Mahogany

March 2011 A cable leaked on February 2nd through Wikileaks reveals that, in 2006, the Peruvian government reported 70‐90% of its mahogany exports were illegally harvested using “document falsification, timber extraction outside the concession boundaries and links to bribes.” Instead of following laws limiting mahogany extraction to commercial concessions, INRENA (Peru’s former National Institution for Natural Resources) sources, including the then‐US ambassador James Struble, documented illegal loggers taking advantage of indigenous communities by paying below‐market prices for mahogany within their reserves. The leak also exposed that INRENA knew 60% of its commercial mahogany concessions failed to meet management standards and that no concessions met high management standards. The government responded in El Comercio on March 4th dismissing the relevance of …

Incredible New Photos of Voluntarily Isolated Tribe on Brazil-Peru Border

 February 2011 Astonishing aerial photos and video of voluntarily isolated tribes take near Brazil-Peru border. See links below: Survival International press release. Wired article. NYTimes Green Blog.

Miami Herald Reports on Mahogany Logging in Purús Region

November 2010 See the story in The Miami Herald, including an interview with Upper Amazon Conservancy Director Chris Fagan, here.   ——— The Upper Amazon Conservancy’s investigations are part of a larger effort here to protect the greater Alto Purus ecosystem; one of the wildest places left on the planet – home to still undocumented species of plants and wildlife, voluntarily-isolated peoples and a carbon sink of international significance. To read more about the Upper Amazon Conservancy and its work in Peru, see our FACT SHEET (PDF 412K). For more information, contact Chris Fagan at email hidden; JavaScript is required or Francisco Estremadoyro at email hidden; JavaScript is required, or see our website at www.upperamazon.org.

UAC Overflights Reveal Illegal Settlements in Park; Seed Project Underway

August 2010 Click on links below to find out more. Overflight Reveals Illegal Settlement in the Alto Purús National Park. UAC Signs Agreement for Mahogany Seed Project.

Illegal Mahogany Logging Continues in the Murunahua Uncontacted Reserve

July 2010 Read the full press release below: Illegal Mahogany Logging Continues in the Murunahua Uncontacted Reserve. Read Survival International’s Response to the Upper Amazon Conservancy’s Work here.

Oil Companies Banned From Uncontacted Tribes’ Reserve

May 2010 Read the Press Release from Survival International here.  

Sacred Lands Report on the Alto Purús

June 2009 Interesting report on the Alto Purús region by the Sacred Lands Film Project.  Click here.

Five Uncontacted Tribes Most Threatened with Extinction

May 2009 Read the full story in National Geographic News here.

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