One Amazonian tribe in northern Brazil is standing up to the illegal logging that takes place in the rainforest that they call home. The Ka’apor tribe from the Brazilian state of Maranhao is dependent upon the Amazon Rainforest, and they are starting to fight back against loggers who are continually destroying it.
Latin American journalist Jonathan Watts says, “All of the logging that now takes place in Maranhao is being done illegally. It greatly affects the livelihoods of the people in the forests, because the last remaining areas of forest are all in indigenous territory. It's the territory of the Ka’apor people.”
The area of Maranhao used to be the home of densely packed forests. But these forests started being destroyed about four or five decades ago by people who wanted to use the areas for cropland and for grazing pastures.
In recent years, Brazil has taken action to reduce illegal logging. The government has expanded protected indigenous territories and raised the fines associated with illicit logging. The country is also making use of satellite imagery to find forest areas that are being destroyed.
While these methods have helped to slow down the process of deforestation, they have not completely stopped forests from being cleared. Corrupt agencies in Brazil still allow the destruction of the forests to continue.
Meanwhile, the Ka’apor tribe is fighting back on its own. The members paint their skin in war paint and set out with bows and arrows and heavy clubs and attack logging trucks. They seize any weapons held by the loggers and tell them to leave their forest alone.
If the tribe finds loggers that they have warned before, the tribe will beat them severely and destroy their trucks and tractors.
While the loggers have been known to carry automatic firearms, the members of Ka’apor tribe typically greatly outnumber them. Most of the time, the loggers are not willing to risk their lives over the situation. However, there have been instances where the loggers opened fire on the Ka’apor people.
Meanwhile, the top executives of the logging companies have been angered by the situation. They have reportedly responded by hiring assassins to kill the leaders of the Ka’apor tribe.
Recently, groups with more advanced technology have gotten involved in order to help the Ka’apor people. The environmental organization Greenpeace has placed GPS tracking devices onto several logging trucks so they track their locations and report illegal logging operations to government authorities.
Still, with the corrupt Brazilian government, illegal loggers often easily get away. The ongoing battle between the Ka’apor tribe and the illegal loggers is likely to continue until more people work to help prevent the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest.