Leopoldo Richter, a German artist, explorer and entomologist, fled his troubled nation for the Amazon in the 1930s and spent the next years exploring remotes areas of Brazil and Colombia, where he sketched native peoples whose lives had still not been altered by western culture. A small exhibition of Richter's drawing is on display now in Bogotá's Museo Nacional.
Since Richter's time, hunters, loggers, miners and farmers have invaded deeper into the Amazon, forever changing, and often destroying, the lives of native peoples, who often fall victim to new diseases, habitat loss and the temptations of junk food, alchohol and television.
Nevertheless, some uncontacted indigenous people still remain in the Amazon. Recently, Colombia approved Decreto 4633, requiring the government to protect land used by uncontacted peoples. In January, the government announced it would more than double the size of Chiribiquete National Park in the Amazon, from 1.3 million to 3 million hectares, in part to protect uncontacted native peoples.
However, many of the forces threatening these peoples' existence are illegal, and therefore nearly impossible to control.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours