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  • Indigenous people from the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands inside the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil August 20, 2019. Picture taken August 20, 2019.

    Indigenous people from the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands inside the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil August 20, 2019. Picture taken August 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 August 2019

In the heart of the Amazon, the Mura indigenous people have vowed to protect their traditional land amidst threats from farmers, logging and raging fires.

A record number of wildfires have raged for weeks and are decimating the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest whose protection scientists say is critical to the fight against climate change.

The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, according to Brazilian officials, prompting a global outcry.

The wildfires come against the backdrop of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has railed against environmental fines for farmers and called for indigenous reserves and other protected areas to be opened up for development.

The Mura tribe has long had a history of resistance in the Amazon and have vowed no let up against the Bolsonaro government. During colonial times they held up resistance against encroaching Portuguese culture, they survived epidemics like measles and smallpox.

"Over the years we have resisted here, when there was no access by road, when electricity arrived, when the invasion happened. And with each passing day we see the destruction advance: deforestation, invasion, logging. We are sad because the forest is dying at every moment, we feel the climate changing and the world needs the forest. We need it and our children need", Indigenous leader Handech Wakana told Reuters.

Today, there are about 15,000 Mura people in Brazil who have access to a special indigenous zone to fish and extract forest products as their ancestors have done for generations. But many now fear their tradition is facing its greatest threat, the destruction of the Amazon.

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