Courtesy G. Galli/Survival
Uncontacted Mashco Piro Indians have been seen in the area on several occasions.

Tourist Porn: 'Human Safaris' Are Killing Uncontacted Peoples In Peru

Rick Kearns

Peruvian indigenous activists and allies are calling on the Peruvian government to halt the so-called ‘human safaris’ that take tourists to the home regions of uncontacted Indigenous Peoples who are vulnerable to western diseases; many indigenous have died from these contacts in the last decade.

Officials from the Amazon indigenous organization known as FENAMAD stated they are very worried about reports they were receiving in August of tourism agencies conducting tours in the Mother of God region, an area of dense forest in Peru near the Brazil border that is also home to the uncontacted Mashco-Piro people.

The reports showed how tourists were leaving clothing and other items at the edges of the uncontacted reserves and then taking photos.

FENAMAD representatives visited the Mother of God Reserve in late August to investigate the allegations, and then issued a press statement condemning government inaction.

“It’s high time the Peruvian government puts words into action instead of these endless meetings about devising protocols and policies,” said FENAMAD President Klaus Quicque. “The uncontacted Indians are coming out of the forest but the authorities say and do nothing.”

According to Survival International and other press sources, the uncontacted indigenous have been fleeing forests across Peru “as cocaine traffickers, loggers and oil companies invade their lands.”

“This has happened with increasing frequency,” said Rebecca Spooner, an SI activist in Peru. “The Mascho-Piro is an isolated tribe and is extremely vulnerable because they have no resistance to common ailments (like the flu).”

SI and FENAMAD are calling on the Peruvian government to: man and equip guard posts to protect the Indians and prevent the intrusion of illegal invaders into their land; prevent tour operators from stopping their boats when the Indians appear; or allowing tourists to take photographs of the Indians; or leaving items as gifts for the tribes; expand the Madre de Dios Reserve to include the area initially proposed for the protection of uncontacted tribes (of two million hectares initially proposed, less than half has been included in the Madre de Dios Reserve); and to create an emergency contingency plan for cases of contact, and measures to prevent unwanted contact.

“What we’re seeing with uncontacted tribes today is merely a continuation of the genocide that started with the arrival of the first European colonists in the Americas,” asserted SI Director Stephen Corry.

“Whole populations were destroyed when outsiders stole their land and resources, and spread diseases to which they had no immunity. It’s still happening. Peru must act immediately before more tribes are annihilated,” he said.

As of press time, the Peruvian government had still not responded to calls for action and, according to Spooner, had just canceled a meeting between the Ministry of Culture and FENAMAD.

"Peru is totally ill-equipped to deal with this urgent situation, and it appears to be doing very little to prepare itself for the potentially catastrophic (for the Mashco-Piro) situation that first contact is likely to lead to," she added.

"The Peruvian government has signed an agreement with Brazil to cooperate on cross-border uncontacted tribes issues, but it is unclear what Peru is actually doing. They haven’t responded to any of our letters or emails asking what they are doing."

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Propes's picture
Submitted by Propes on
This article is a reminder of the multiple vantage points in life and our need to consider our actions beyond how we’re impacted by our experience. One person considers this experience an adventure, while a whole society is threatened by it. The "tourist" is vaccinated and popping malaria pills with no regard to the harm they may bring to others. What strategies are in place to create further awareness for the market buying into this advertised safari? I imagine if tourists genuinely knew the harm they were capable of causing they wouldn’t pay into being a part of it. I am hopeful measures will be taken before this becomes an epidemic weakness of our consideration for the Mascho-Piro (and/or any community going through similar encounters).

andre's picture
Submitted by andre on
“It’s high time the Peruvian government puts words into action instead of these endless meetings about devising protocols and policies,” It's definitely a Native thing having all these endless meetings that go nowhere. I have never seen a group that meets so much..

Jim Muyres
Jim Muyres
Submitted by Jim Muyres on
Thank you for sharing this. They are doing the same thing to wildlife and plant life... all life. Biologists and scientists spread bacteria and disease as they travel to "study". The US government condones it on public land and parks. On Isle Royale they they trap the wolves, take blood, stick thermometers in their rectum, place chips under their ski and collar them. Then they track them on foot, on snowshoe and helicopters and put the video on the internet to entertain people. The cameras zoom in on their kills, their dens their young. They are trying to find out why the wolves are stressed? Whether they spread disease to people, oceans, plants, bats or bees... they are fools, shame on them.