First detailed pictures of uncontacted Mashco-Piro tribe in Manú National Park from Peru
The incredible pictures of an isolated Amazon tribe are the most detailed ever recorded of a previously uncontacted Indian tribe in the remote forests of Peru.
The pictures are taken in Manú National Park, south-eastern Peru, and show the daily life of a family from the Mashco-Piro tribe.
Campaign group Survival International has released images of the Mashco-Piro tribe, which lives near the Manú National Park.
The Mashco-Piro tribe is known to inhabit the park, but sightings of them have increased in recent months.
The tribe has had little if any peaceful contact with the outside world.
The Mashco-Piro is one of around just 100 known uncontacted tribes. They live a traditional life in the Peruvian forests and have little or no outside contact with the world.
Families within the tribes fashion tools from wood and other materials, including the teeth of animals.
In these pictures, the adults and children are wearing decorative loops around their wrists, knees and ankles – some of which can be used to carry tools.
The adult female is also wearing a form of skirt which is believed to be made from pulped tree bark fibres.
The danger of attempting to establish contact with tribes who choose to remain isolated has recently been confirmed after the death of an indigenous Matsigenka man.
Survival blames the change on gas and oil projects and illegal logging in the area, pushing the tribe into new lands.
The message that the Mashco-Piro tribe seems to be sending, however, is that they want to be left alone.
“There’s been increasing conflict and violence against outsiders that are on their ancestral land,” Survival’s Peru campaigner Rebecca Spooner said.
That violence has included arrows being fired at tourists in passing boats, and a warning arrow – with no tip – being recently fired at a Manú park ranger.
Most recently, members of the tribe fired a lethal arrow at Nicolas “Shaco” Flores – a member of a different tribe who had been attempting to make formal contact with the Mashco-Piro for some two decades.
Nicolás “Shaco” Flores was shot in the heart by an arrow near the national park as he was leaving food and gifts for a small group of Mashco-Piro Indians – something he had been doing for the last 20 years.
An account of the attack by anthropologist Glenn Shepard underlines the fact that the tribe is fearful of forming ties with the world around them.
Glenn Shephard told Anthropology News: “Shaco’s death is a tragedy: he was kind, courageous and a knowledgeable man.
“He believed he was helping the Mashco-Piro. And yet in this tragic incident, the Mashco-Piro has once again expressed their adamant desire to be left alone.”
Clan members have also been blamed for a bow-and-arrow attack which left a forest ranger wounded in October.
One of the images was taken by a bird watcher in August. The other two were taken by Spanish archaeologist Diego Cortijo on November 16, six days before Flores was killed.
Diego Cortijo, a member of the Spanish Geographical Society, was visiting Nicolás “Shaco” Flores on an expedition in search of petroglyphs and said clan members appeared across the river, calling for him by name.
Nicolás “Shaco” Flores was able to communicate with the Mashco-Piro because he spoke two related dialects and had provided the clan with machetes and cooking pots.
The Mashco-Piro tribe is believed to number in the hundreds and lives in the park bordering Diamante, a community of around 200 people.
The clan that appeared along the river is believed to number around 60, including some 25 adults, according to Carlos Soria – a professor at Lima’s Catholic University.
Diego Cortijo said: “It seemed like they wanted to draw a bit of attention, which is a bit strange because I know that on other occasions they had attacked people.
“It seemed they didn’t want us to go near them, but I also know that the only thing that they wanted was machetes and cooking pots.”
It was at a respectful distance of 120 m that Diego Cortijo snapped pictures of the tribe using a telescope mounted on a camera, capturing the most detailed images ever taken of such “uncontacted” tribes, many of whom are detailed at a site of the same name.
Carlos Soria said: “The place where they are seen is one of heavy transit of river cargo and tourist passage, and so the potential for more violent encounters remains high.”
The Mashco-Piro are one of around 15 uncontacted tribes in Peru which together amount to an estimated 15,000 people living in jungles east of the Andes.
State authorities issued a directive in August barring boats from going ashore in the area.
But enforcing it has been difficult as there are few trained and willing local officials.
Rebecca Spooner suggested that the evident increase in violence could be abated by preserving the local tribes’ traditional lands.
“We’re asking the Peruvian government to do more to protect that land, which should be set aside for the uncontacted groups,” she said.
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