A group of nomadic hunters who once lived deep in the Amazon is today on the brink of physical and cultural extinction. Though their tribal lands are designated as an Indigenous reservation, their forest was long the site of an armed conflict that plunged Colombia into a wave of violence for more than half a century. The relationship between the Nukak Makú people and the Colombian government officially began in 1988, after 43 Nukak left the Amazon in the nation’s southeast Guaviare department and turned up in the town of Calamar seeking medical help for a flu outbreak in their community. As their immune systems had never been compromised with this kind of ailment before, 40% of the population died during their first five years of contact with the outside world. Illegal palm cultivation in the Guaviare region. Image courtesy of the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS). The Nukak’s most challenging time came when a paramilitary group — the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), responsible for the massacres of Mapiripán (1997) and Caño Jabón (1998), among other human rights violations — invaded their territory, according to anthropologists Dany Mahecha and Carlos Eduardo Franky. The AUC began to dispute territorial control with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) over the Guaviare River’s middle basin, which is a historically coveted land. The Guaviare River is formed by the confluence of the Guayabero and Ariari rivers that run from the Andes; it flows through the Orinoquía ecosystem that makes…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer