Indigenous Environmental Defender killed as logging mafia targets tribe

ICT editorial team

Warning: some people may find the details and image below disturbing

News Release

Survival International

A leader of an Amazon tribe acclaimed for its environmental defenders has been killed, the latest in a series of deaths among the tribe. 

The body of Jorginho Guajajara was found near a river in the Brazilian state of Maranhão. He was a leader of the Guajajara people, acclaimed internationally for their work as the Guardians of the Amazon in the most threatened region in the entire Amazon.

Franciel Guajajara, one of the Guardians of the Amazon, explains their work © Survival

It is not yet clear who killed him, but a powerful logging mafia has repeatedly targeted the tribe for its work protecting both its rainforest home, and the uncontacted members of a neighboring tribe, the Awá, who also live there, and face catastrophe unless their land is protected.

Jorginho Guajajaras body was found near a river in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. © Survival

Confronted with official inaction, the tribe formed an environmental protection team named the Guardians of the Amazon to expel the loggers. Some estimates suggest up to 80 members of the tribe have been killed since 2000.

The murder of Jorginho Guajajara is further indication of the increasing volatility in this area. In May this year, a team from Ibama (Brazil's environmental protection agency) and environmental military police were dispatched to the Guajajaras Arariboia reserve, a rare move from the authorities.

The Guajajara say: Our uncontacted Awá relatives cannot survive if their forest is destroyed. As long as we live, we will fight for the uncontacted Indians, for all of us, and for nature.

Survival International has protested to the Brazilian authorities about the wave of violence against the Guajajara, which has gone almost entirely unpunished.

Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today: The Guardians of the Amazon face an urgent humanitarian crisis, and are fighting for their very survival. This small tribe of Amazon Indians are confronting an aggressive, powerful and armed logging mafia with close ties to local and national politicians. And theyre paying with their lives for standing up to them. They urgently need public support to make sure they survive.

Note from Survival International:Guajajara people who found the body report to Survival that the neck was broken and almost detached from the body, in a location where the bodies of other Guajajara people killed in a similar way by loggers have been dumped. The Guajajara have reported the murder to the authorities and demanded an inquest.

The Guardians of the Amazon

The Guardians of the Amazon are men from the Guajajara tribe in Brazils Maranhão state who have taken it upon themselves to protect what remains of this eastern edge of the Amazon rainforest. They want to save the land for the hundreds of Guajajara families who call it home, and their far less numerous neighbors: the uncontacted Awá Indians. The Guardians say of their work: We patrol, we find the loggers, we destroy their equipment and we send them away. Weve stopped many loggers. Its working.

The Guardians recently released video and images of a rare encounter with the uncontacted Awá living in Arariboia. Watch the footage here. You can see videos of several of the Guardians talking about their work on Survivals Tribal Voice site.


The Arariboia indigenous territory comprises a unique biome in the transition area between the savannah and the Amazon rainforest. There are species here not found elsewhere in the Amazon. The land inside the indigenous territory is under threat from illegal loggers. Brutal cuts in government funding to its indigenous affairs department FUNAI and tribal land protection mean the dangers are now even greater, as the area is not properly monitored or defended by the authorities. A powerful and violent logging mafia operates in the region, allegedly supported by some local politicians.

Comments (3)
No. 1-3

This is horrifying and incredibly sad.


The article cites, "indigenous territory is under threat from illegal loggers" truth, there is no difference between legal logging and illegal logging....the end result is self evident, always irriversable destruction for native peoples and dependent brethren whether plant or those whom fly or those who be four legged or crawl....greed is the most harmful of all invasive species and wears the iconic emblem of all what is wrong and ill wrought for the past 500 hundred years....Wiizon


I hate what European Colonization has done to these beautiful, proud, advanced and once thousands of thriving cultures thru-out the Americas. This pigs are not even content to allow even a little part of the Amazon untouched, just like they did in the USA, they will not be happy until the indigenous people are removed from their homelands and dead. This is a travesty, and no one gives a shit about Native Americans but send millions of dollars to foriegn countries like Africa and Arab countries, and Israel and protect others from genocide, but feel that themselves, the foriegn invaders would be better off and able to reap the resources and riches of the Americas, if the true owners were just gone, wiped from the face of the earth thru their genocide.

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