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Uncontacted Tribes Video of Mascho-Piro

by Jason on July 10, 2014

uncontacted tribes

I was on safari last week in the Amazon Jungle in Manu National Park in Peru leading my men’s group. We had already seen so many animals — birds, snakes, monkeys, frogs and insects. We were traveling down the Alto Madre de Dios River an hour from Boca Manu.

A boat passed us heading the opposite way. Someone waved at us and yelled “Los Calatos” while pointing at the shore. “Los Calatos” is slang in Spanish for “The Naked People.” Los Calatos refers to one of the uncontacted tribes living in Manu Park, specifically the Mascho-Piro tribe.

In my previous trip to Manu two years ago, I had heard countless stories of the uncontacted tribes. Nearly every boat driver, guide and local had heard stories or had encounters with “Los Calatos.” I found out two years ago that there were still people left in this world that had NEVER had CONTACT with the outside world. There are still people who are NOT a part of the global world, who have never seen the outside world or interacted with anyone from the outside world, let alone a white person. There are about 2,000 people left in the world like this, mostly scattered in tribes of about 200 people in remote areas of the Amazon basin, like in Manu National Park.

We drove another minute downstream before we spotted the uncontacted tribes. There was a 12-yr old native boy, completely naked standing on the side of the river. He had a rope tied around his waist tying his penis upward pressed against his body. This is the typical wardrobe for the males.

uncontacted tribes

The boy was curious and was speaking to us. He waved us over a few times wanting us to come over to him. He seemed playful. A few minutes later an older woman came out, presumably his mother. She was wearing a loincloth and nothing else. Their skin looked weathered. After less than a minute, the mother spoke to us, which we could not understand.

The whole time I felt I was in another world. I felt two worlds colliding. I felt like I had just gone back 1,000 years in time. I knew there were more of them in the bushes I couldn’t see. Thoughts entered my head about how to protect myself if bows and arrows came our way. I couldn’t believe I was having serious thoughts about avoiding bows and arrows from a native tribe that was completely naked. This was by far the most surreal moment and SINGULAR experience of my life.

Shortly thereafter, the mother waved at us to move on, so we left just a few minutes after we first saw them. My whole group couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Almost everyone who hears about these uncontacted tribes has an opinion one way or the other. Many feel they need to be left alone and we should not bring to light anything about them. I would also feel this way if it were not for the following threats.

Disease and Encroachment

The remaining people in uncontacted tribes in the Amazon Basin are in serious threat of being wiped out and exterminated it. There are two main reasons which when combined, are LETHAL for these tribes — DISEASE and ENCROACHMENT onto their lands.

First, these tribes are very much like the Native Americans during the time of Columbus and the Conquistadors. They are NOT IMMUNE to our common diseases. When white people first came to the Americas, nearly 90% of native populations in North and South America were wiped out due to common diseases that they had no immunity to. This is the same for these tribes. As soon as they come in to contact with the outside world, their population gets decimated.

A few decades ago, Christian missionaries found out about an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. They secretly went in with good intentions to preach the gospel. Shortly thereafter, their good intentions brought unintended consequences. Nearly the whole tribe was wiped out due to disease.

This fact would still be OK if it were possible for these tribes to remain undisturbed indefinitely. But unfortunately, this is not so. An oil company has recently gained approval to build a pipeline on lands of an uncontacted tribe adjacent to Manu Park to the northwest. In other areas of Brazil and Peru, illegal loggers continuously enter and invade the lands of these tribes in search for precious wood. These loggers and tribes collide and sometimes tribes have been massacred.

It would be a fairy tale world if it was likely that these tribes can remain undisturbed indefinitely. The sad truth is that many of these tribes will be wiped out shortly because of encroachment onto their lands by those with vested interests in natural resources on these lands. Combine that with the lack of immunity to diseases and nearly all of these tribes face extinction in the near future.

You might think that perhaps the governments of these countries would be quick to assist. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. The president of Peru has denied the existence of uncontacted tribes, saying they are a fairy tale created by environmentalists.

I also met someone local who works in Manu who took pictures of the uncontacted tribes and posted them up online. The next day, the Peruvian government told him to take down his pictures or he would lose his license to be able to enter Manu Park.

What Can Be Done?

The key thing that will help these tribes to survive long-term is to educate the public about their existence. Specifically, ample proof, both picture and video, needs to be shown of their existence. With such evidence, Peru’s government will be forced to acknowledge their existence and thus be obliged to protect them and their lands from encroachment by those seeking its natural resources. Hopefully, these tribes would also receive the option of being vaccinated against common diseases.

Below is the video of what we saw.

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