Illegal Mahogany Logging Endangers Uncontacted Tribe in Peru

Indigenous people and trees are in peril due to illegally-logged mahogany destined for the floors and high-end furniture of American homes. Loggers are operating in the supposedly protected lands of uncontacted tribes deep in the Peruvian Amazon. A new report details how illegal mahogany loggers are flouting international law and endangering the livelihood and health of tribes that have little resistance to any diseases that may be brought by outsiders. Mahogany is an endangered tree protected by international law; 80% of Peru’s mahogany exports go to the United States.

The Upper Amazon Conservancy states that until the US government takes a strong stand and rejects questionably-sourced Peruvian mahogany, trees and the tribes are at risk of disappearing. Loggers forced contact with the Murunuhua tribe in 1996; over 50% of them died in the ensuing years, mostly from respiratory infections. This video shows a tribe member who survived first contact:

The NGO Survival International estimates that there are 15 uncontacted tribes left in isolated areas of the Peruvian rainforest.

In March 2010 at an international meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), Peru was given six months to enact  legislation to address the illegal mahogany trade. Repeated attempts to stem the flow to protect both the species and the indigenous people have failed and abuses are rampant. In June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Peruvian President Garcia, saying, “The United States and Peru are working together to protect the environment, to move toward more sources of renewable independent energy to fuel the economy here in Peru.”  Let us hope that we do not put a short-sighted quest for economic progress ahead of the protection of endangered trees and endangered tribes.

Take Action
Write your congressman, member of Parliament or other government representative, or the President of Peru, urging protection of uncontacted tribes and of their lands.  A sample letter can be found here:

Photo: Recently-contacted Murunuhua tribe member, Peru.
 (c) Chris Fagan, Upper Amazon Conservancy via Survival International
Used with permission.

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John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Have a copy of the letter that I will print and mail today, thanks.

Milian Maldonado
Milian Correa5 years ago

What a shame that those we trust to protect the people are the ones doing the most harm. Why can't those who respect and are trying to protect our planet be left in peace. The country is run by greed and stupidity.

Jewels S.
Jewels S.5 years ago

It is hard to stay hopeful while learning what greed is doing to our world. But education about this problem is the first step towards stopping it. I will spread the word to all I know.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y.5 years ago

Just great, another place where people live peacefully, minding their own business, in balance with the planet, and a giant corporation comes in to destroy their lives.

Pauline Cousins
Pauline Cousins5 years ago

The majority are supposed to protect the minority, whats gone wrong. There are many endangered species and tribes out there, why should mans greed be allowed to put them at further risk.

Pat J.
Pat J.5 years ago

God it is frightening to think of what men do in the name of greed. The way we are going we wont have a planet left just a desert with no oxygen to breathe, We need the rainforest to survive. Why is there such ignorance in the world?????

Nellie K A.
Nellie K. Adaba5 years ago

That is not good. Modern people don't know how to take care of nature and the environment. Everyone must go back to their more early and primitive to be in tune and in harmony with nature, save the planet and the world...

Deb L.
debbie Lewis5 years ago

Endangered things are supposed to be protected.

Lois K.
Lois K.5 years ago

It is not only animals that are endangered, but humans, as well. Hundreds of tribes have become extinct, and many more are in danger of doing so, because of logging, mining, and ranching that result in their homeland being destroyed.

Rudolf Affolter
Past Member 5 years ago

All the wealth in the world and more will not be enough John.