An indigenous tribe is losing its mummies to thieves who are believed to be selling them to art dealers. Many of the thefts have taken place in Kabayan, in Benguet province, about 300 kilometres north of Manila. The town is considered the seat of the Ibaloi tribe. The Ibalois said that in the past few years, several mummies had disappeared and they were now considering banning tourists from the caves. They suspected some had been taken out of the country. Florentino Merino, Mayor of Kabayan, has reported the thefts to the provincial Government. At least three mummies have reportedly been retrieved and returned to their caves. The loss of the mummies has many tribesmen worried and several mummies have recently showed signs of decay, further heightening superstitious fears. There is a more rational explanation however. The decaying mummies are those that were taken out of their sealed coffins at the prodding of tourists. The provincial Government last week appealed to the National Museum and the Department of Tourism to help solve the problem. The Ibalois are also angry about damage that has been done to the caves. Many have been vandlised by tourists, local and foreign. Their experience is not unique. In Sagada, Mountain province, the burial caves of the Kankana-ey tribe were looted by thieves in the late 1970s. Most of the caves in Sagada have been vandalised. In Nangonogan coffins have been toppled over, bones are scattered and spray paint covers the coffins and rocks.