In Pictures: The indigenous tribes fighting to save the Amazon

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Karitiana indigenous tribe in the Central Aldea (village) of their indigenous’ territory, Rondonia, Brazil 19 September 2019. Private farms surrounding the indigenous territory threaten the Karitians and the forest. The majority of fires are of arson nature, set up by land-grabbers (grillieiros), farmers (fazendeiros) and by agribusiness companies to turn the forest into soia fields and ready for the cattle pastures. According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in 2019 the fires increased by 84% according to the same period in 2018.

According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the number of Amazon forest fires this year increased by 84 percent compared to 2018.

The western region of Rondonia appears to be one of the most deforested, with exploitation of the land the main cause.

In August, President Jair Bolsonaro, without evidence, blamed NGOs working on the ground for the fires.

Environmental activists, meanwhile, denounced Amazonian land-grabbers, farmers and agribusiness companies, backed by the government’s rhetoric, for setting fire to the forest and exploiting the land.

The plots of land are almost entirely cultivated with soya monoculture or animal feed for grazing cattle. The soya business, as food and as animal feed for intensive livestock, is in the hands of a few large companies, and it has become one of the most profitable in the world.

“In the name of development, there is an implementation of less restrictive policies on the exploitation of Amazonian lands, thus legitimising an increase in deforestation,” said Neidinha, who runs Kaninde, an organisation working with indigenous groups in Rondonia to protect the enviornment. 

Incursions into indigenous territories have also increased, according to members of the Karitiana and the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribes.

Juripe, chief of the Jamari village, said in September, a group of land-grabbers caught setting fires in their forest was identified and arrested.

“Although the indigenous tribes are the only ones able to live in the natural reserves, loggers and land grabbers have regularly invaded our lands to make profit with the exploitation of the forest,” said Juripe.

Purua, 45, of the Uru-Eu-Wao-Wao tribe, set fire to a land grabbers' hut inside his tribe's reserve. In September 2019, a group of land-grabbers that deforested the territory was intercepted by the Funai (government agency for the protection of indigenous people) and arrested by police inside the Uru-Eu-Wao-Wao reserve. A group from Purua's tribe returned to the scene to set fire to the illegal hut so they can not return. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Purua, 45, of the Uru-Eu-Wao-Wao tribe, set fire to a land grabbers’ hut inside his tribe’s reserve. In September 2019, a group of land-grabbers that deforested the territory was intercepted by the Funai (government agency for the protection of indigenous people) and arrested by police inside the Uru-Eu-Wao-Wao reserve. A group from Purua’s tribe returned to the scene to set fire to the illegal hut so they can not return. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Juripe, the village chief of the Aldea Jamarì, walks in a forest destroyed by land-grabbers who burned the indigenous area to claim the land and make it cultivable. On September 26, Juripe led a mission to destroy an illegal hut in the forest used as a base by land-grabbers to deforest the area. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Juripe, the village chief of the Aldea Jamarì, walks in a forest destroyed by land-grabbers who burned the indigenous area to claim the land and make it cultivable. On September 26, Juripe led a mission to destroy an illegal hut in the forest used as a base by land-grabbers to deforest the area. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Jelson stands in front of his cassava field burned due to fires in a neighbouring forest in the province of Porto Velho. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Jelson stands in front of his cassava field burned due to fires in a neighbouring forest in the province of Porto Velho. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
The remains of a house belonging to Jeovaldo in the indigenous territory of the Karitiana tribe, Central Aldea, Rondonia. The house caught fire due to a blaze in a neighbouring forest. Private farms surrounding the indigenous territory threaten the Karitians and the forest. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
The remains of a house belonging to Jeovaldo in the indigenous territory of the Karitiana tribe, Central Aldea, Rondonia. The house caught fire due to a blaze in a neighbouring forest. Private farms surrounding the indigenous territory threaten the Karitians and the forest. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Fishermen under a bridge that crosses the Madeira River in Porto Velho. In the background, silos are used to store soya, which is among the world's most cultivated food products. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Fishermen under a bridge that crosses the Madeira River in Porto Velho. In the background, silos are used to store soya, which is among the world’s most cultivated food products. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
An area of forest that has become cattle pasture near Porto Velho. The beef trade is one of the most profitable businesses in the country and the need for grazing land is one of the main causes of deforestation. The process begins with the theft of the best wood for illegal sale and the ground is subsequently set on fire. Once the land is cleared, the forest is used to graze cattle and then grow soya. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
An area of forest that has become cattle pasture near Porto Velho. The beef trade is one of the most profitable businesses in the country and the need for grazing land is one of the main causes of deforestation. The process begins with the theft of the best wood for illegal sale and the ground is subsequently set on fire. Once the land is cleared, the forest is used to graze cattle and then grow soya. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
The manager and a veterinarian at the Frigo 10 slaughterhouse in Porto Velho, Rondonia. The beef trade is one of the most profitable activities in the country. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
The manager and a veterinarian at the Frigo 10 slaughterhouse in Porto Velho, Rondonia. The beef trade is one of the most profitable activities in the country. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Karitian indigenous tribespeople in the central aldea of their indigenous territory in Rondonia. Private farms surrounding the indigenous territory threaten the Karitians and the forest. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Karitian indigenous tribespeople in the central aldea of their indigenous territory in Rondonia. Private farms surrounding the indigenous territory threaten the Karitians and the forest. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Mayte 32, Purua, 45, and Alessandra, 27, from the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau indigenous tribe in their Amazon reserve. On September 26, the three took part in a mission in the forest to reach an illegal hut used as a base by land-grabbers who set fire to neighbouring forest.[Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Mayte 32, Purua, 45, and Alessandra, 27, from the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau indigenous tribe in their Amazon reserve. On September 26, the three took part in a mission in the forest to reach an illegal hut used as a base by land-grabbers who set fire to neighbouring forest.FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Smoke rises from fires near Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Smoke rises from fires near Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
Workers near Jaci Parana in the Rondonia region. The theft and illegal movement of Amazonian wood represents 30 percent of the global market. In the process of deforestation, before setting the forest on fire, land-grabbers cut the finest trees to sell on the black market. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
Workers near Jaci Parana in the Rondonia region. The theft and illegal movement of Amazonian wood represents 30 percent of the global market. In the process of deforestation, before setting the forest on fire, land-grabbers cut the finest trees to sell on the black market. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
A fire in the province of Porto Velho in Rondonia, Brazil, one of the most deforested parts of the Amazon. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
A fire in the province of Porto Velho in Rondonia, Brazil, one of the most deforested parts of the Amazon. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA
A fire in Porto Velho in Rondonia. [Fabio Bucciarelli/Al Jazeera]
A fire in Porto Velho in Rondonia. FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AL JAZEERA

The feature was originally published in AL JAZEERA.

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