Colin Firth at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards.

Colin Firth at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards. Photo: Reuters

OSCAR-WINNING British actor Colin Firth has launched a major drive by Survival International to save ''Earth's most threatened tribe'', the Awa of the Brazilian Amazon.

Survival International, a leading advocate for tribal peoples' rights worldwide, said the small tribe's territory had been invaded by illegal loggers, ranchers and settlers, and the group is threatened with extinction. The aim of the campaign is to persuade Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo to send in police to remove the loggers, ranchers and settlers and keep them out.

A short film by Survival International features an appeal by Firth to sign a petition calling on Mr Cardozo to act to save the tribe.

''The Awa's forest is being illegally cut for timber. When the loggers see them, they kill them. Their bows and arrows are no match for guns. And at any other time in history, that's where it would end. Another people wiped off the face of the Earth, forever,'' Firth says in his appeal. ''But we're going to make sure the world doesn't let that happen.''

The film includes scenes showing the tribe's close relationship to their pets, the moonlit ritual in which they talk to their ancestors' spirits and the destruction caused by loggers and ranchers, who set whole hillsides ablaze. Survival said the situation was now so critical that several Brazilian experts have spoken of a ''genocide'' and ''extinction''.

The organisation said there were about 360 contacted Awa, many survivors of massacres. Another 100 are believed to be hiding in the shrinking forest. According to Brazil's National Indian Foundation, about 77 isolated tribes are scattered across the Amazon. Only 30 groups have been found.

AFP