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rainforest tribes

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Introduction

Rainforest Tribes A Garden of Eden? Rainforests are very rich in natural resources, but they are also very fragile. For this reason, rainforest peoples have become instinctive conservationists. For them, conservation is literally a way of life. If they were to take too much food in one year, the forest would not be able to produce enough new food for them to be able to survive in the next year. Many rainforest tribes gather their food from small garden plots, which are shifted every few years. This method is less productive than western agriculture, but is also much less harmful to the rainforest environment. As they cannot produce food in large quantities, most tribes are forced to limit their numbers so their gardens and the products of hunting expeditions are able to feed them, and all tribes have a great respect for their forest and for the animals and plants they share it with. The rainforest lifestyle may sound like a kind of paradise, a Garden of Eden for the lucky few who live there. It certainly has its advantages. There is little stress, little mental illness and little high blood pressure among rainforest dwellers. Physical fitness is generally good, and few people need to work for more than four hours a day to provide themselves and their families with adequate food and other necessities. ...read more.

Middle

It is true that in the short term, huge amounts of money can be made from exploiting the rain forest in this way. But in the longer term, and here I mean no more than ten to fifteen years, there will simply be vast areas of desert where once there was rain forest. But I digress. Let us turn now to the fortunes of possibly the most famous of all the tribes of the rainforest, the Yanomami Indians of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. I hope that by looking at this one example in detail it will be possible to examine the problems which face rainforest peoples all over the world. Protected Species As Amazonian Indian tribes go, the Yanomami have been lucky. Their traditional homelands were in the mountainous highlands of Brazil and Venezuela, away from the big rivers and relatively inaccessible. For this reason they were spared the ravaging effects of the previously unknown diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadors to South America during the seventeenth century, which wiped out many of the riverine tribes completely. Since then their territories have expanded into the lower valleys, but despite this, until recent times the only contact the Yanomami have had with whites had been through the occasional visits of scientists or missionaries. In 1985, however, a gold-rush on Yanomami lands in Brazil led to the influx of tens of thousands of miners and prospectors, overwhelming the small populations of local people. ...read more.

Conclusion

But how many other tribes are struggling for survival in the rainforests of the world? How many people have heard of the Kayapo, the Yekuana, the Iban, the Mehinacu or the Xikru? How much popular support could be rallied in their defence? Clearly, rain forest tribes throughout the world are in need of protection. This protection should be granted as soon as possible by the governments of their nation states, but is bound to take time. Most rain forest tribes live in poor countries. The forests are rich in natural resources and can make huge sums of money for a few years, thus making the countries involved richer. But after those few years all that remains is desert. Most former rain forest which has been exploited for other purposes will either take many years to recover, or will never recover at all. The only way to stop the destruction of the rain forests, of the animals and plants, and of the tribes which live in them is through greater public awareness of the problems we are creating for ourselves. By this I mean a world-wide realization of the importance of the rain forest and its inhabitants, and of the need for proper protection against its permanent destruction. The possibility of imposing trade sanctions upon countries which continue to destroy their rain forests is at time of writing a subject of debate at a meeting of worldwide conservation groups. Perhaps this is a hopeful sign for the future of the rain forest... ...read more.

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