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Drone captures isolated Amazonian tribe on film for the first time

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An Amazonian tribe never which has never before had contact with the outside world was spotted by a drone flying over jungle in Brazil.

The drone was carrying out surveys for Brazil’s agency of indigenous affairs, Funai, last year. The reclusive tribe which are untouched my modern civilization were discovered in Vale do Javari, a region near Peru containing at least 11 isolated tribes, the most of anywhere in the country.

The footage from the drone is shot from a considerable distance (see video below), presumably to reduce the chance of the drone’s buzzing disturbing the tribe. The sight of a UAV hovering in the air to a person who had never seen such technology would surely be quite perplexing, if not scary.

Across the whole of South American nation there are an astounding 107 isolated tribes. The extended footage captured by Funai shows a group of 16 people walking through the forest, some carrying bows and arrows. Funai was conducting an expedition to map the pockets of isolated tribes. They do not yet know what language this group speaks, what ethnic group they come from or their local customs.

Vale do Javari – the region in Brazil where a new isolated tribe were discovered using a drone

Funai seeks to protect indigenous tribes from numerous threats that face them from the outside world.

Isolated tribes tend to avoid modern society because of negative experiences members of said tribes have had with the outside world in the past. Such groups are coming under increasing pressure from nearby local miners who are moving closer to the tribes settlements. Miners have brought with them malaria and their mining has led to mercury poisoning in the soil and local water sources.

Although humanity has had been using satellites to map the surface of the Earth for decades, drones give us the ability to explore (in high definition) areas relatively easily that were previously inaccessible. If government groups can fly in with a drone and have a nosy around at isolated tribes, what’s to stop members of the public doing the same? Hopefully regulations will keep rubberneckers at bay but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Is staying isolated in the age of consumer drones a difficult dream to maintain? For the moment, UAVs are enabling important research into these tribes by organizations that are interested in protecting them and that – at least – is a good thing.

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