The Ka’apor Tribe have had enough. The natives to Brazil’s rain forests captured about a dozen men illegally logging, striped off the men’s pants, and beat those who resisted with sticks. Pictures from Reuters photographer Lunae Parracho showcase the entire brutal arrest.
The Ka’apor are a people indigenous to the rain forest. For hundreds of years they’ve been in a fight to preserve their land and way of life. Since the 1980s, the group has lost nearly one-third of their land to illegal logging, even though their areas are supposed to be protected by the government of Brazil.
As Lunae Parracho explained in his eye witness account, the tribe is on its own.
“During my week touring the region, I didn’t see a single government official or any infrastructure in place to protect the area from loggers.”
It would appear that the Ka’apor have learned to protect their home themselves. The operation captured in the photos began when the Amazonians spotted nine logging trucks moving through the forests. The chiefs gathered a group of the most experienced warriors to plan an assault, a strategy session that lasted the entire night. The next day the men pounced, capturing and stripping the men.
Before releasing the illegal loggers, one of the warriors said, “We’re doing this because you are stubborn. We told you not to come back, but you didn’t listen.”
And they burned the trucks.
In the past decade, there has been some progress in protecting the rainforest in Brazil. In 2011, the Brazilian government announced the lowest rate of deforestation since records have been kept. Unfortunately, that good news did not last long, as in 2013 rate jumped up again.
Economic factors still plague the preservation efforts. Illegal logging remains a profitable business, and the cleared lands are used to raise cattle and grow crops. The government has also sent mixed messages. The government did announce that they apprehended a gang that was the “biggest destroyer” of Brazil’s rainforest in what they called Operation Chestnut Tree. Nevertheless, according to the BBC, the government’s combination of corruption and ineptitude allow most illegal logging to go on with impunity.
The greatest hope for Brazil’s rain forest maybe the natives who now police the area.
It is a dangerous job the Ka’apor have in front of them. Many of the loggers come armed to fight natives. Still fighting against illegal logging may prove to be good for all of Brazil and the rest of the world.
The Lunae Parracho’s photographs can be found here.
[Image Credit: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture/flickr]