Saving the Awá: Earth’s threatened tribe on brink of extinction

Flickr: UNHCR

Illegal logging and land grabs have, for years, been displacing and threatening the Awá. Without intervention this small tribe of no more than 450 people in Brazil could soon be pushed to extinction.

According to Brazilian authorities, they have admitted that the Awá are outnumbered ten to one in just one of their reserves. This information comes from Survival International, a leading advocate for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide.

Figures from a government survey show that as many as 4,500 ranchers, loggers and settlers have invaded one of the four territories occupied by the Awá tribe. Many of the tribe who have never had contact with the outside world have said that loggers have opened fire on them.

In Brazil a law is supposedly in place to prevent logging companies from cutting down trees in the Amazon. Of course, while aerial pictures illustrate the extent of the damage these companies have produced, it seems enforcing the law is somewhat of a difficult task. This is due to the fact that many of the loggers are reported to carry firearms and because of the number of companies involved.

However, while the damage is clearly detrimental to the Amazon rainforest as we know it, it’s also producing harmful results to the Awá tribe too. Without thinking about the rights of the tribe, loggers are taking over, killing anyone who gets in the way.

Flickr: monazimba

In order to bring the situation further to light a major campaign led by Colin Firth was launched last month (video below) to get the world’s attention on the plight of the Awá people.

As the video shows Mr Firth has called for the Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo to send in federal police to clear out those taking over Awá land. Unfortunately it seems it’s never as easy as that or else it would have been done already.

Regrettably, not much seems to have changed since the time of Christopher Columbus.

For many of us relocating is something we do and in most cases moving to a new town or city is somewhat of an easy task. But, for those living in the rainforest it’s not and with the Amazon rainforest continuing to reduce in size, finding somewhere new to settle is becoming even harder.

According to Survival International around 360 of the tribe have had contact with those from the outside world, with 100 more of the uncontacted Awá remaining hidden in the ever shrinking forest.

As a peaceful tribe, the Awá live life in harmony with the wildlife and animals around them. But, with loggers continuing to exploit the Amazon for timber threatening the tribe’s existence, where are the ones that are lucky enough to survive supposed to go?

Even though the Awá are by no means the only endangered tribe, their situation has grabbed the attention of many because of the threat that logging and land grabbing has on the rainforest and those that call it home.

While the Brazilian government claims that illegal logging has significantly declined in the last year compared to 2004, more still needs to be done and should be done.

We live in a cruel world, but unless measures are not put into place to protect this small tribe we may soon find ourselves with a race lost forever.


2 thoughts on “Saving the Awá: Earth’s threatened tribe on brink of extinction

  1. There are two disturbing things for me in the video, the first is the destiny of the Awa and so many other tribes throughout the Americas (North America included) and the second is the easiness and readiness that people in the Anglo to stand up to intervene and give opinions about other country’s internal affairs, as if they knew better.

    British Petroleum for example spoiled an eco system many times bigger than the area that was burned in the Amazon in the past decade yet I don’t recall any Brazilian celebrity stand up to appeal “to the world” for the British Foreign Office to take measures about this.

    There is a strong movement in Brazil against the deforestation that is pressuring the government to re-look it forest code (which, by the way, is one of the most advanced in the world). I beg the readers and the writers of the article above to study what goes on in Brazil, and what is being done by Brazilians to preserve THEIR forest before going yet again into disastrous interventionist avenues.

  2. If the Government refuses to do anything, They need to arm these remaining people and what a shame that would be seeing as they are a peaceful people, these loggers etc, are also killing the rainforest and all the life in it, This must stop! It is 2012..Always about money ,well it is BLOOD money, and the rich who are doing this hopefully enjoy their blood money now as they won’t be taking it where they are going…

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