Children's Tropical Forests (U.K.) Fact Sheet

Peoples of the Rainforest

Native people have lived in the rainforests for thousands of years. In Brazil about 2,500 Kayapo natives live in an area about the size of Wales. They garden, hunt, fish and gather wild foods. They use over 600 species of plants for food, medicine, dyes, oils, soaps, fibres and insect repellent. Numbering about 20,000 the largest group of Indians that live in Brazil are the Yanomani.

NATIVE The 125cm tall, nomadic Efe pygmies living in Central Africa have no gardening activity. Although one of the smallest races in the world the men sometimes hunt elephant and buffalo. More often they hunt monkeys, birds and rodents and collect fruit, honey, birds eggs and insects. The women gather nuts, roots and mushrooms. They have few possessions: baskets, bow and arrows, bark clothing, and some simple musical instruments.

Another group of indigenous rainforest people are the Gimi. About 10,000 of them live in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The men hunt small mammals and birds, and the women tend gardens of sweet potatoes and other similar crops. Further west live the Penan of Borneo who are perhaps the most ancient of the forest dwellers and have lived there for nearly 40,000 years!

Over many generations tribal people have discovered many of the forests' secrets. They have learned how to use the forest to fulfil their needs without harming it. Unfortunately many of these cultures are being wiped out as they come into contact with modern man.

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