Rare Video Shows Endangered Amazon Tribe Member Clutching Machete: 'Only a Public Outcry Separates Them From a Genocide'

Non-profit Survival International shared footage of an uncontacted man from an endangered indigenous community on Monday. The organization released the clip to raise awareness of the imminent threat the man's group faces from logging.

The Awá indigenous people, some of whom have no contact with the outside world, live in Brazil in the Amazon rainforest.

The short video clip shows an Awá man carrying a machete and walking around the forest. He appears to be aware of the nearby filmmaker, but does not interact with them.

Back in 2013 the Awá were thought to number 355, with roughly 100 still uncontacted, The Guardian noted at the time.

This latest footage is particularly important as it proves uncontacted members of the Awá still exist in relatively well-preserved forest areas, Survival International said in a statement.

The clip is part of a 13-minute film taken by Flay Guajajara, a member of neighboring indigenous group, the Guajajara, who patrol the region in an effort to protect the Awá.

The film, called "Ka'a Zar Ukize Wá–Forest Keepers in Danger" was released by indigenous film-making association Mídia Índia. It will be shown at a cultural center in São Paulo Tuesday. Images from the film have already been shown on Brazilian television.

Flay Guajajara said in the statement: "We hope this film produces something positive. We hope it makes an impact around the world to help protect our people and our forest."

Survival International claimed logging has increased dramatically under Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who began his term in January. During his campaign, the leader promised indigenous groups would not receive "one more centimeter" of protected land, The New York Times previously noted.

Survival International's director of research and advocacy, Fiona Watson, called Bolsonaro's election "catastrophic news" for indigenous groups in an October 2018 opinion piece for The Guardian. "There are around 100 uncontacted tribes in Brazil, more than anywhere else on earth, and all are in peril unless their land is protected," she wrote.

Indigenous man, Amazon
An uncontacted Awá man is pictured in this still from a video released by Mídia Índia. Mídia Índia

In April, environmental group Imazon reported deforestation of the Amazon had risen by 20 percent over the last year, per The Independent. More recent images show this upward trend has continued, New Scientist reported Monday.

Protecting the forest and their Awá neighbors is a dangerous business for the Guajajaras. Olimpio Guajajara, coordinator of the Guardians of the Amazon, said in a statement: "We Guardians are defending our people's rights, defending the uncontacted Indians, and defending nature for all of us. Three of our Guardians have been assassinated. We need the land to be protected for good."

Survival International's director, Stephen Corry, added: "This video is further proof that the uncontacted Awá really exist. Just look at a satellite image to become aware of the danger. The loggers have already killed many of their relatives and chased others out of the forest. President Bolsonaro and his friends in the forest industry would not ask for anything better than the survivors being eliminated. Only a public outcry separates them from a genocide."

Erisvan Guajajara from Mídia Índia emphasized the importance of releasing the footage, saying: "We didn't have the Awá's permission to film, but we know that it's important to use these images because if we don't show them around the world, the Awá will be killed by loggers. We need to show that the Awá exist and their lives are at risk. We're using these images as a cry for help and we're calling for the government to protect the lives of our relatives who don't want contact with outsiders."