Ka'apor of Maranhao

Maranhao is the state on the eastern flank of the Brazilian Amazon, a region that was densely forested but more recently has borne the brunt of rapid deforestation.

According to the Imazon research institute, the Brazilian lumber industry is valued at around $1.6 billion per year, and of this a whopping 76% is harvested illegally.*

The Amazon is not only the largest tropical forest in the world but it is also the main source of wood for this substantial illegal industry.

The region’s Ka’apor indigenous community has been up against an ongoing battle with illegal loggers for many years.

In Brazil, recognized indigenous groups have land demarcated by FUNAI – the National Indian Foundation – and it is illegal for those not from the community to farm, hunt or harvest natural resources from this land. However, as these areas are often remote and large, it is difficult to enforce such measures and therefore such activities are unfortunately commonplace.

Disenchanted by an apparent lack of activity from IBAMA (Brazil’s environmental protection authority) and as a reaction to this problem, the community has been forced to take matters into its own hands, taking evasive action against the loggers; seizing illegally harvested timber, destroying equipment and physically expelling them are some of the tactics they have undertaken. This however, has come with a price.

This short video documentary tells the story of their struggle.

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Phil Clarke Hill
Photographer and Filmmaker