Survival International Press Release
Paraguay: Uncontacted Indians Spotted 'Fleeing Forest Destruction'
13 NOVEMBER 2008
The last uncontacted Indians in South America outside the Amazon basin have been spotted, apparently fleeing the rapid
destruction of their forest home.
The forest where the Indians live is now being destroyed at a faster rate than the Amazon. The area is being illegally
bulldozed to open up the land for cattle ranching.
The Indians are members of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe, who live in the dense forests of western Paraguay.
‘It’s likely that the presence of bulldozers on their land is forcing the Indians into other areas, east of the zone
being deforested,’ said Jorge Vera of GAT, a local support organisation for the Indians.
The Totobiegosode have lost a staggering 6,000 hectares of their land this year alone to companies wanting to graze
cattle for beef. Since May the amount of their land destroyed has almost tripled. The companies destroying the
Totobiegosode’s land are both Brazilian: Yaguarete Porá SA and River Plate SA. Besides the terrifying impact of the
destruction of their home by bulldozers, any contact between company workers and the Totobiegosode could easily result
in deaths on either side. Many Ayoreo have died in previous encounters.
The Totobiegosode were seen on two occasions by other Indians: a group of eight or nine men on one occasion, a smaller
group several days before.
Esoi, a Totobiegosode man who was contacted in 2004 and has relatives among the uncontacted Indians, said today, 'I'm
appealing to the authorities to stop the destruction of our forest. My family is there now. That's where our houses are.
We're losing our forest.'
A team from Paraguay's government recently attempted to inspect the area where Yaguarete Porá is working, but company
personnel barred them from entering. This met with widespread outrage and condemnation in Paraguay.
Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Totobiegosode are losing their land at a faster rate
than the entire Amazon. If this continues, they may well be wiped out. Paraguay's new President Lugo must act fast to
ensure that the illegal destruction of the Totobiegosode's forest by these Brazilian companies stops immediately.'
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