Members of an uncontacted tribe painted with red and black vegetable dye watch a Brazilian government plane overhead.Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival International
The search has intensified for one of the world's last known uncontacted tribes that has seemingly vanished into the jungles of the Amazon after a suspected assault by heavily armed drug traffickers.
The Brazilian government will dispatch National Security Forces to bolster security and the search for the tribe, meanwhile, the country's National Security Secretary Regina Miki has pledged a "permanent occupation by the Ministry of Defence," according to tribal advocacy group Survival International.
New aerial footage shows that the village and plantations remain in good condition. However, fears are growing that the tribe may have been massacred by drug traffickers after the overflights have still showed no confirmed sightings of the indigenous peoples themselves.
Brazil's National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, said last week that a guard post protecting the country's recently discovered tribe was overrun by heavily armed men.
Brazilian authorities said that about 40 heavily armed men crossed the border from Peru although little is known about their intentions or nationality. FUNAI reports that the incursion first occurred in late July after the traffickers ransacked a local tribal village about five days by boat away from today's missing tribe.
Foundation workers even found one of the traffickers 'rucksaks' or backpacks with a broken tribal arrow inside.
"Arrows are like the identity card of uncontacted Indians. We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee. Now we have good proof. We are more worried than ever. This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades. It’s a catastrophe, ... genocide," Carlos Travassos, the head of the Brazilian government’s isolated Indians department, said to Survival International.
The tribe gained world wide attention after airplanes took aerial footage of the estimated 200 person group in February.
Survival International reports that there are more than 100 uncontacted tribes throughout the world and many of them live in the Amazon's jungles especially around the border between Brazil and Peru.