The lost Marubo tribe of Brazil. The Amazonian Indigenous reserve of Vale do Javeri, Brasil. Two young Marubo girls and friends inside the Rio Novo village Moloca.The Javari Valley reserve, which was set up in 1998, is home to 6,000 indigenous people from eight tribes, who share its dense, hilly forests and sinuous rivers with 16 isolated groups. Indigenous leaders say the “isolados”, as they are known, are more threatened than they have been in decades – with heavily polluting gold mining barges entering rivers to its east, cattle ranchers encroaching on its southern borders, and commercial fishing gangs venturing deep into its centre. Keeping tabs on their wellbeing is vital. Although since 1987, government policy has been to avoid contact with them, indigenistas like Pereira pore over reported sightings, satellite images, photos from planes used for monitoring. Expeditions like this one – which Guardian reporters were given rare permission to join following an invitation from the Javari Valley indigenous association, Univaja – provide invaluable intelligence. The nine-man team travelled around 950km by boat and hiked 70km to investigate reported sightings by Marubo villagers of isolated people near a tiny, remote hamlet called São Joaquim deep inside the reserve. In 2015 the village moved location, concerned by repeated visits from isolados.
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