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Gold Search in the Amazon is Threatening this Local Tribe and Harming the Rainforest

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

Amazon rainforest tribes are struggling to survive due to an illegal mining operation currently happening in the location. Gold mining and the search for precious metals are causing the Yanomami tribe many problems, and it seems the government is looking the other way. Located between Brazil and Venezuela, Yanomami tribes have fought to prevent themselves from being exterminated from Earth. But it seems the government is turning dead ears to their problems. When an NGO reported the issue to the government, the Brazilian government played it down. According to the Brazilian government, they said it was just part of the NGO's plan to destroy the government's image. 

Living off fishing, hunting, and fruit gathering, the people of Yanomami have seen their means of livelihood curtailed because of the increasing mining activities. Those who are involved in this illegal business of mining have poisoned their waters; they have also cut down their trees and many other actions which are harming the people of Yanomami. Numbered around 29,000, the people of Yanomami say they are about to be wiped off the face of the earth. Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami leader, while speaking about the situation, said their land was being invaded, and they were being deprived of their basic rights. 

More Gold Miners Invading the Amazon 

Drone image of the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest

The people of Yanomami and other local officials say that more gold miners have been invading the forests of the Amazon and trying to dig up more precious metals. Known by the locals as garimpeiros, their number has constantly increased despite Yanomami becoming a government-protected area. It is projected that as many as twenty thousand have infested the little town. With a population of 29,000 people, the number of miners in Yanomami is almost the same the locals. 

Joenia Wapichana, the only indigenous woman elected to the Brazilian Congress, spoke about the Amazon gold mining situation. She noted that the threat the garimpeiros pose for the locals is very high. Even the Brazilian economy has been hurting the national economy. "The number of invaders has increased, both loggers and miners, who are at the service of people who have strong economic power, and organized crime is beginning to enter the territory. The environmental and health issue is getting worse and is putting the indigenous people at risk of extinction," Wapichana said. Also read: 5 Stars That Didn't Show Up For the Golden Globes Award 2023

Effects of the Illegal Gold Mining 

The illegal mining activities happening in Yanomami are having a sporadic negative impact on the locals. It starts with malnutrition, as the locals often conflict with the miners who won't hesitate to kill anyone who tries to stop them. There's also the issue of sexual abuse of the women of Yanomami. This has raised great concern from different people. 

Dario Kopenawa, vice president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association, said the Brazilian government should fully step in and help the Amazon rainforest tribes. "The Brazilian government must fulfill its protective role, where every Brazilian citizen, not just the Yanomami, feels protected. It is not a favor, but a constitutional obligation. It is necessary to curb the mining projects on indigenous lands because they are illegal under Brazilian law," he said.