Amazon pillaging plunges remote indigenous culture into fight for survival

ITV News' Emma Murphy reports from the Amazon, where remote indigenous communities face a toxic peril.

The Yanomami people have hunted and foraged in the Amazon since the 1600s.

They're an indigenous population that has for centuries protected and provided for itself.

However the pillaging of the rainforest means they can no longer protect or provide for themselves, meaning that their lifestyles - and lives - are now under threat from the exploitation of their lands.

The Yanomami people rely on Amazonian resources for their livelihood. Credit: Gabriel Chaim

Illegal gold mines, illegal ranches and illegal timber felling are destroying their way of life.

Deforestation means their hunting lands are disappearing, and therefore their food supply too is shrinking.

Unable to rely on their own traditional diet they are forced to find imported food. It isn't as nutritious and in short supply. As a result, the United Nations describes malnutrition as “sky rocketing”.

Illegal timber felling is destroying traditional hunting grounds. Credit: Gabriel Chaim

But it’s not just a lack of food that is doing harm. The mines pump toxic mercury into the waters where the Yanomami fish.

Mercury contamination has a dreadful impact on the human body - especially on children. It attacks the nervous system and can lead to problems with sight, the heart, and can lead to developmental issues.

The river water that the Yanomami rely on is being severely polluted. Credit: Gabriel Chaim

The river water on Yanomami lands has 8000 times more mercury in it than the safe level.

The impact on these remote communities is devastating - a tribe which has existed for seven centuries now facing extinction within one, as the Amazon becomes an eco-system of criminality and exploitation.