Lost and found: a tribe on the edge

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The Independent US

A remarkable new set of aerial photographs has revealed previously unknown details about how members of one of the world's last uncontacted tribes go about their daily lives.

The pictures, which show members of an Amazon Indian tribe in the Brazilian jungle, were taken by the country's government as part of an effort to protect the tribe from illegal loggers who cross the border from Peru and threaten their homes.

The Peruvian government has so far ignored efforts to get it to crack down on the loggers, sometimes expressing scepticism about the tribe's existence. Some telling details of the tribe's diet and lifestyle can be made out in images which show members, who wear red body paint, gazing up and pointing at the aeroplane taking the photographs.

The photograph to the left shows them using woven baskets and bows and arrows, as well as a metal machete and pot likely to have been traded in fleeting interactions with other tribes. (They are referred to as "uncontacted" because they have never had sustained contact with mainstream society.)

The pictures also show that they eat manioc, a tuber, bananas and papaya, suggesting that they maintain a healthy diet.

It is thought that the tribe in the photo is one of those in the region that suffered terrible atrocities when the "rubber boom" began at the end of the 19th century. Many fled into the deepest recesses of the forest to escape the encroaching plantation workers. The isolated people photographed here are thought to be their descendants.