Remote surveillance to monitor 'uncontacted' Brazilian tribes
|This image shows members of an uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian state of Acre|
[Credit: (Courtesy of Government of Brazil]
"We found that the estimated population of the village is no more than 40 people," Walker said. "A small, isolated village like this one faces an imminent threat of extinction. However, forced contact from the outside world is ill-advised, so a non-invasive means of monitoring the tribe is recommended. A remote surveillance program using satellite images taken periodically of this group would help track the movements and demographic health of the population without disrupting their lives."
Using information captured from remote surveillance, scientists can help shape policies that mitigate the threats of extinction including deforestation, illegal mining and colonization in these remote areas. Additionally, surveillance also can help locate isolated villages, track patterns of migration over time, and inform and create boundaries or buffer zones that would allow tribes to stay isolated, Walker said.
"Close to 100 uncontacted groups are thought to currently exist in Amazonia," Walker said. "Deforestation, cattle ranching, illegal mining, and outside colonization threaten their existence. Most of these tribes are swidden horticulturalists and so their slash-and-burn fields are observable in satellite images. But, they do move around, sometimes in response to external threats, and this movement requires constant monitoring if there is to be any hope of preserving their habitat and culture."
The study, “Amazonian societies on the brink of extinction,” was published online in The American Journal of Human Biology.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia [April 23, 2014]