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September 22, 2017

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Indigenous people block tourist vehicle entry from ancestral site, decry pollution

Scores of indigenous people blocked tourists from entering a conservation area in the mountains of Hualien in protest against the pollution brought to their ancestral land by tourism.

The indigenous protesters blocked cars from entering the winding road leading to Mugumuyu, and insisted the tourists walk up the mountain.

They released smoke signals as though they were preparing for battle and three warning gunshots were also heard, according to the Central News Agency.

Mogumuyu is a conservation area with scenes similar to the more famous Taroko Gorge, also in Hualien. It has been open to tourists since 2006, but the number of visitors allowed per day is limited.

 However, indigenous people have complained that more than 100 cars now come to Mugumuyu every day. The residents have to suffer the crowds, noise, air pollution, trash and traffic congestion created by tourism.

 They said that they have to stop nature becoming a consumer commodity and prevent their ancestral land from being "trampled by outsiders."

 They demanded police stop issuing entrance permits to Mugumuyu and, in the future, visitors should only be allowed walk up the mountain.

 They warned of more protest actions to come if the authorities do not respond to their demands.

 Indigenous people are the only civilian groups in Taiwan allowed to own guns for hunting purposes.

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