Amazon tribes are using technology to protect their forest homes

By Hazel Pfeifer

Published 10:29 PM ET, Tue September 1, 2020
amazon drones portrait 4 cteamazon drones portrait 4 cte
1 of 13
Mandu Uru Eu Wau Wau is a member of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau -- a 250-strong tribe that lives in the Amazon in Brazil's Rondonia state. The tribe's women traditionally tattoo their faces as part of the marriage ritual. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Tari Uru Eu Wau Wau, a member of the tribe. The men wear headdresses made with parrot, macaw and eagle feathers. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Bitate Uru Eu Wau Wau is the president of the Uru Eu Wau Wau Indigenous Peoples Association. The tribe's forest home is increasingly under threat from illegal logging and forest fires. "My job is to protect the forest and show future generations that we have been fighting for preservation so that they can continue our work," he says. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Awapy Uru Eu Wau Wau and his wife Juwi. Awapy is head of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau forest surveillance team. He says he and his family have received death threats for his work in forest protection, but he is determined to keep up the fight for future generations. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Awapy is one of a new generation of indigenous people learning to use technology to track and document the deforestation that threatens their land and way of life. He took part in a drone-piloting course run by WWF and the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association, last December. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The WWF-Kaninde project trained a group of representatives from five indigenous communities and others involved in forest protection. A total of 19 drones were donated to 18 organizations in the Amazon region. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Ismael Menezes Brandao from indigenous rights group Comissao Pro-Indio (CPI) is pictured taking part in the drone training in Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, in December 2019. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau surveillance team finds an area that has been cleared by loggers. The team, led by Awapy, go out on patrol once a month. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau found this deforested area of 1.4 hectares (roughly the size of two American football fields) on their territory on their first drone surveillance after the training course. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The Jamari river is one of a number of rivers and waterways that flow through Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau territory. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau fish using bows and arrows. These fish were caught in the Jamari River. Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
The Amazon is home to uncountable species of plants and animals. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet. A brown-throated sloth is pictured climbing on a tree. The sloth uses its long, curved claws to hang from branches. Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images
A white-fronted capuchin monkey carries its baby on its back. The monkeys usually live in large groups in the forest and communicate by calling to each other. Kyodo via AP