“Brazil has taken a promising first step towards saving the world’s most threatened tribe,” Survival International director Stephen Corry said. “This is proof that public opinion can effect change.”
While the operation has successfully presented an obstacle for loggers trying to enter and leave the land, the organization notes that the army has yet to move onto the Awá’s territory itself, where timber practices continue at an alarming rate.
According to the Guardian, illegal logging has threatened the Awá’s existence since 1982, when the construction of a railway cut directly through the group’s land and opened up their jungle territory to loggers from the east.
The results have been disastrous. As Survival International noted to the BBC, the Awá face immediate extinction as deforestation has destroyed nearly a third of their northeastern territory. In addition, the noise and disruption from the timber collection drives away many of the animals that these hunter-gatherers rely on for food. The tribe’s population has also been decimated in violent land disputes, with the 450 remaining Awá severely outnumbered by thousands of loggers.