When the coronavirus first hit Brazil in early March, local indigenous leaders barred tourists from the trails on Monte Pascoal, the first piece of land Portuguese colonizers saw as they arrived 520 years ago. Usually, some of the about 120 inhabitants of Pe do Monte village in the northeastern state of Bahia serve as guides on the mountain, earning money to live on and to help protect the forests around them. When community leaders closed off the village, they knew they would be forgoing vital income. But they did not expect that illegal loggers would move in.“We used to have five trails, (but) four of them have been deforested,” said indigenous leader Toho Pataxo. “We are looking into the possibility … of opening new trails (after the pandemic), so that tourism doesn’t stop. If tourist income stops, our whole community stops.”As the pandemic decimates the tourism industry that many Brazilian indigenous villages rely on, communities are searching for solutions – from social distancing to livestreaming – to help them keep making a living and conserving their lands. Brazil has the world’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll, with more than 110,000 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.Official government figures show more than 380 indigenous people have died from the illness so far. But indigenous rights groups believe that number is underreported – Brazil’s Association of Indigenous People estimates it to be closer to 680 deaths.Indigenous rights groups and health bodies like the World Health Organization have warned that indigenous communities are especially vulnerable to the virus, for reasons ranging from lack of healthcare access to invasions of their land by loggers.At the start of the outbreak in Brazil, Funai, the government’s indigenous affairs agency, suspended all authorization for outsiders to enter indigenous areas.In Pe do Monte, Toho believes illegal loggers took advantage of the fact that the tourism freeze emptied the trails of possible witnesses to their crimes.The people of Pe do Monte saw the trees they had spent generations protecting destroyed within five months.“There were trees over 200 years old on those trails, but (loggers) cut them all down. They devastated our trails,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. FISHING TO PROTECT FORESTSIn the Amazon region, tourism is both a threat to indigenous communities – bringing them in contact with outsiders who can carry diseases – and an essential way for them to preserve their lands.In 2018, FOIRN, an association of indigenous communities of the Rio Negro, estimated that tourism generated about 3.9 million reais ($700,000) for the villages along one of the Amazon’s major rivers.Indigenous villages are part of a monitoring project that protects the area’s forests using money from tourists who engage in sports fishing, with villagers acting as their guides while also looking out for unauthorized fishing and illegal logging.The Indigenous Sightseeing Tour of Rio Negro project protects about 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of forest, according to anthropologist Camila Barra, a consultant for Garupa, a non-profit organisation promoting sustainable tourism.But with all visits canceled, the money is drying up, said Barra.Without the funding to pay for monitoring, it will be impossible to keep away the illegal fishers and loggers who are always looking to exploit the region’s resources, she noted.“We are thinking about how to keep monitoring going … so that when they can resume (tourism), everything is in the best possible condition,” Barra added.