When it comes to defending their land from illegal loggers, Brazil Indigenous tribes in the lawless east of the Amazon have decided that they can no longer rely on the state to protect them and instead, have formed armed Indigenous militias called “the guardians of the forest.”
The “Guardians” carry out regular patrols of their territory, expelling loggers. Satellite images show that deforestation has fallen in areas that they are most active.
But taking on powerful local logging mafias is a risky business and many of the Guardians live under constant threat of being killed.
Environmental experts across the world have noted that empowerment of Indigenous people to protect their lands is the most practical and cost effective way to combat deforestation.
One of the Guardian’s tribes, the Guajajara has launched a vice presidential candidate for Brazil’s elections in October.
I was with the Rio Pindaré and Governador tribes in September and visited their Indigenous territories where the “guardians” operates in the state of Maranhão, one of the worst affected by forest fires and illegal logging that has lost 75 per cent of it’s Amazon forest cover.