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The Peruvian government will soon make contact for the first time with an Amazonian tribe that has, up until this point, survived largely isolated in the Manu National Park in south-eastern Peru.

HSPS applicants will be interested to note that the first official contact with the tribe will be made by government anthropologists who will talk with the clan of Mashco Piro to understand why they have recently been emerging from the forest.

This contact comes after the Mashco Piro have increasingly been spotted seeking machetes and food outside their jungle enclaves.  Geography students should investigate how the spread of cities and urban populations can damage indigenous tribes and Natural Sciences candidates will want to consider the impact this urbanisation and loss of native tribes will have on the local environment and on biodiversity.

History candidates should look further into the historical context of the region as the Mashco Piro have survived enslavement during Peru’s rubber boom in the late 1800s and rebuffed the advances of missionaries in the 1900s.

Peru prohibits contact with the Mashco Piro and another dozen “uncontacted” tribes mainly because their immune systems carry little resistance to common illnesses. A team of doctors six hours upriver would treat the tribe if disease breaks out and prospective Medicine should discuss the challenges associated with such an unusual medical scenario. 

Linguistics aspirants should know that the government hopes to communicate with the Mascho Piro, not through their own language but through Yine, a native language similar to the Mashco Piro tongue.

Peruvian authorities have long restricted contact with the Mashco Piro tribes but have now said they cannot keep people from defying the contact ban because no penalty is attached.  Law students may want to consider the legal methods available to restrict contact with the tribe.

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