New Delhi: New developments have emerged in the week-long mystery of what happened to British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous activist Bruno Pereira, as items purportedly belonging to the missing duo were found near their last known location in the Amazon rainforest.
The two were reportedly documenting the impact of cocaine trafficking and illegal poaching on the Amazon rainforest when they went missing on 5 June.
The belongings found included “a pair of trousers, a pair of boots and a healthcare card belonging to Pereira and a backpack filled with clothes and a pair of boots belonging to Phillips,” The Guardian reported late Sunday, citing a Brazil federal police statement.
Made near the Itaquai River by a local team of searchers and experts indigenous to the Amazon’s Javari valley, these discoveries come amid a period of dwindling hope that the individuals will be found alive.
Phillips’ mother-in-law and wife, who are Brazilian, posted on Instagram that the souls of Phillips and Pereira “have joined those of so many others who gave their lives in defence of the rainforest and Indigenous peoples”.
But the search continues. The Guardian heard Cristóvão Negreiros, a friend of Pereira’s and fellow indigenous activist, say to a group of volunteers during the search that they were “here to fight for Bruno and to ensure this doesn’t happen again”.
“Bruno wanted to defend us and teach us how to protect our territories. Now we want to defend him by finding something,” volunteer Binin Matis told The Guardian.
Shipping route for cocaine traffickers
According to the BBC, the rivers in and around the remote Javari valley of the rainforest are known for the endangered freshwater fish species pirarucu, and are a well-worn shipping route for cocaine traffickers, due to the valley’s location on Brazil’s borders with Peru and Colombia.
“It was this conflict that Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were documenting. Dom Phillips was writing a book on saving the Amazon. Bruno Pereira, a specialist on isolated tribes, was introducing him to his contacts and friends. Both were very familiar with the terrain,” the BBC added.
The duo are well known among Brazil’s indigenous communities for their support to pro-indigenous causes, in light of the controversial environmental policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)