One Girl’s Life and Loss in an Eden of Biodiversity

Meet Yoina, an 11-year-old orphan. She lives with her tribe In Peru’s Manú National Park, a place that’s remote, remarkable—and endangered.

Some stories just break your heart. So it is with the behind-the-scenes story of the girl featured in this month’s article on Manú National Park in Peru. The girl’s name is Yoina. She’s a member of the Matsigenka tribe, an indigenous group that lives in Manú, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

When we saw Yoina’s picture, taken for National Geographic by photographer Charlie Hamilton James in June 2015, all of us were captivated by the image of this 10-year-old girl, neck deep in the Yomibato River near her village, looking defiantly at the camera, a pet tamarin on her head.

That photo did what great photos do. It made us want to know more—about the girl and about her life. Because her tribe and others have inhabited the area for generations, it’s their legal right to live in the protected rain forest with a few limitations: no gun hunting and no other activities that would irreparably harm the environment.

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