Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mick Jagger Asked to Intervene On Behalf of Uncontacted Peruvian Tribes

Indigenous people of the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti reserve in Peru, who are threatened by the Camisea project. Mick Jagger has been asked to use his influence to help stop the gasfield exploration. Photo courtesy: EPA

Peru's last uncontacted tribes may be among the small minority of mankind who have never heard of Mick Jagger but conservationists are now calling on the Rolling Stones frontman to help save the Amazonian homeland of these vulnerable groups.

The British rock star – who was reportedly made an "honorary ambassador" for the environment during a visit to Peru last year – is being asked to weigh in on a controversial gasfield development that threatens the Mashco-Piro and other tribes isolated from the outside world due to the remoteness of their forest home.

The Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti reserve, which is close to the borders of Brazil and Bolivia, is legally protected by a "supreme decree" but it is close to the vast Camisea natural gasfield and is said to be threatened by the expansion plans of the state oil firm, PetroPeru.

Survey teams were seen in the region last year. According to the Peruvian magazine Caretas, the government has quietly created a new exploration block that may impinge on the reserve.

Non-governmental organisations have requested details about the expansion, but none have been forthcoming from either the government or the petrochemical company so they are now turning to Jagger for help.

Last year, the singer visited Peru's ManĂº national park – a Unesco world heritage site and area of extraordinary biodiversity that has the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti reserve as one of its buffer zones. The regional governor asked Jagger to serve as a tourism and environment ambassador at a ceremony where he was presented with a medal, a feather head-dress and bows and arrows, according to the Andina news agency.

Survival International has now written to the singer with a request that he use his honorary title to intervene. "Peru's last uncontacted tribes are in imminent danger … please ask the Peruvian government to stop endangering their lives," the group's international director, Stephen Corry, wrote.

Jagger has yet to respond. Though less well known for biodiversity protection than Sting, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford and James Cameron, he is listed as a supporter of conservation causes. There is nothing, however, on his official website about the title conferred upon him in Peru. He was not immediately available for comment.

Let's hope Mick lends a hand. These tribes need all the help they can get.

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