Uncontacted, Indigenous Amazonian Tribes Being Monitored Through Google Earth

By: | December 2nd, 2014

There are less than 100 uncontacted, indigenous tribal communities around the world, and the researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of New Mexico have made good use of the Internet to study the lifestyles of some of these tribes.

The focus of their research revolves around one Amazonian tribe that sits on the border between Brazil and Peru, where the health of the people and demographic of the population are monitored on Google Earth. Google Earth is an open public satellite imaging service, so the tribe can go undisturbed yet studied from a distance. A lot of valuable data has been gathered about the tribe’s range of territory and size of population, which is around 40 people.

“A remote surveillance program using satellite images taken periodically of this group would help track the movements and demographic health of the population without disrupting their lives,” said Dr. Rob Walker, the first author of a paper appearing in the American Journal of Human Biology.

These tribes are at risk of extinction due to many of the processes inflicted from the rest of the world, that have not only affected these tribes but the Amazon Rainforest’s ecosystem as a whole.

“Deforestation, cattle ranching, illegal mining, and outside colonization threaten their existence. Most of these tribes are hidden horticulturalists and so their slash-and-burn fields are observable in satellite images,” Dr. Walker said.

Many of the indigenous people have carried stories, traditions and entire lifestyles handed down from their ancestors and are not extremely beneficial to our learning of different cultures, exhibiting diversity and respect for our planet.

Austin Miller

I am an aspiring physicist, with an interest in art and technology.

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