The unique cultures of the indigenous forest-dwellers of tropical Asia and Africa, including those commonly referred to as Negritos (Aeta and indigenous inhabitants of Malakka and Andaman Islands), Weddids, Pygmies (Batwa and Bambuti) and Pygmois, are among the oldest on earth. The primary threat to these particularly vulnerable peoples is that posed by the destruction of their habitat, a process which has reached devastating proportions during the 1970s and 1980s. The result of the continuation of this onslaught will be certain genocide. The impact of deforestation has already risen to the level of ethnocide in some areas. Indigenous rain forest peoples in South and Central America face a similar fate. In spite of the presence of indigenous peoples in the world's tropical forests for thousands of years, the forests continue to be considered legally as terra nullius.
It was reported in 1995 that more than 60 North American, European, Japanese and South African mining companies joined the gold rush in the Guiana Highlands of Brazil and Venezuela, where as much as 10% of the planet's gold reserves may lie. They are destroying the home of the last unassimilated Indian tribes in the New World and one of the planet's richest rain forests.