Peru Struggles to Shield New 'Lost' Tribe
Rousted by logging and aircraft, members clash violently with outsiders
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2012 2:36 AM CST
Updated Feb 1, 2012 6:00 AM CST
Members of the Mashco-Piro tribe peer at a photographer near their jungle home in southeastern Peru.   (AP Photo/Diego Cortijo,Survival International)

(Newser) – Peruvian officials are struggling mightily to shield one of the last "lost" tribes of its jungles. Members of the mysterious Mashco-Piro clan have been spotted along the banks of a southeastern jungle river popular with ecotourists. In two instances, tribe members have fired arrows at people in the area, including a forest ranger who was badly wounded, and a Matsiguenka Indian who was killed, even though he had long maintained a relationship with tribe members. But they have also been asking for tools from passing tourist boats and cargo vessels. Now authorities have prohibited boats from going ashore in the area. Officials believe tribe members, long isolated with no contact with outsiders, may have been rousted from their usual jungle homes by increasing logging activity in the area and low-flying aircraft involved in natural gas and oil exploration, reports the AP.

The Mashco-Piro Indians were first spotted last May, but sightings have been increasing the last two months. The tribe is considered one of a dozen such tribes in Peru, and 100 in the world. The clan appearing along the river is believed to number about 60, 25 of whom are adults, but the entire tribe may number in the hundreds. "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," said archeologist Diego Cortijo, who has taken photos of the river clan. "It seemed they didn't want us to go near them, but I also know that they wanted machetes and cooking pots." Officials worry about increasing incidents of violence between outsiders and the Mashco-Piro, whose social code includes kidnapping other tribes' women and children. "The situation is incredibly delicate," said a government anthropologist.

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Showing 3 of 48 comments
Jan 2, 2015 5:43 AM CST
Do your research and learn that the men have sex with each other. And you thought we were some kind of advanced race. Heck, let's see if any of them will volunteer for a trip to Mars.
Booyaka Shot
Dec 24, 2014 9:40 PM CST
Somebody needs to tell them about the internet so they can finally get with the damn program.
Oct 10, 2013 5:05 PM CDT
Where there is potential money to be made, peoples like these just don't stand the slimmest chance...