To protect indigenous groups who voluntarily isolate themselves from the modern world, the Ecuadorian government has declared a two million acre zone in an oil-rich region of the Amazon off limits to oil development and logging.
The Presidential Decree signed last week by outgoing President Alfredo Palacio is intended to protect the core territory of the last two groups of indigenous peoples in Ecuador known to live in isolation.
Both the Tagaeri and Taromenane are renowned for their giant spears and regarded as among the fiercest tribes on Earth. There is a bloody history of encounters between these two groups and invading oil company workers, loggers, and colonists.
The Presidential Decree defines the boundaries of the so-called Intangible Zone, an area larger than the state of Delaware. Located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Intangible Zone overlaps the southern part of Yasuni National Park, which despite its park status is open to oil development.
The Yasuni National Park region is widely recognized by scientists as one of the most biodiverse on Earth.