Warning as 'lost' Amazon tribe seen at tourist river
Published 01/02/2012 | 05:00
Peruvian authorities are struggling to keep outsiders away from a clan of previously isolated Amazon Indians who began appearing on the banks of a jungle river popular with environmental tourists last year.
The behaviour of the small group of Mashco-Piro Indians has puzzled scientists, who say it may be related to the encroachment of loggers and low-flying aircraft from nearby natural gas and oil exploration in the south-eastern region of the country.
Clan members have been blamed for two bow-and-arrow attacks on people near the river bank in Madre de Dios state where officials say the Indians were first seen last May.
One badly wounded a forest ranger in October. The following month, another fatally pierced the heart of a local Matsiguenka Indian, Nicolas 'Shaco' Flores, who had long maintained a relationship with the Mashco-Piro.
Survival International released photos yesterday showing clan members on the river bank, describing the pictures as the "most detailed sightings of uncontacted Indians ever recorded on camera".
The Mashco-Piro tribe is believed to number in the hundreds and lives in the Manu National Park that borders Diamante, a community of more than 200 people where the now-deceased Flores lived.
After the first sightings, and after tourists left clothing for the Mashco-Piro, whose social code includes kidnapping other tribes' women and children, state authorities issued a directive in August barring all boats from going ashore in the area.