Emergency report to UN about uncontacted tribe

November 18, 2008

Four Ayoreo-Totobiegosode men make contact with the outside world in 2004. These men have relatives who continue to live uncontacted. © GAT/Survival

This page was created in 2008 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Survival International has sent an emergency submission to the United Nations (UN) about the plight of Paraguay’s last uncontacted Indians, whose forest is being rapidly destroyed by Brazilian cattle-ranchers.

‘We believe this is currently the most serious threat to tribal peoples anywhere in the world,’ reads a statement from Survival to the UN’s ‘Special Rapporteur’ on Indigenous issues, James Anaya.

‘Unless the Paraguayan government takes urgent measures to stop the deforestation extremely quickly, the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode will have little chance of surviving. Survival urges you to take effective action to ensure they can live in their own territories in their own way.’

The Totobiegosode’s land is being destroyed by two Brazilian companies: Yaguarete Pora SA and River Plate SA. Yaguarete’s environmental licence to work in the area has recently been cancelled by Paraguay’s Environment Ministry.

‘Based on past experience, there is an imminent risk of a violent clash between the company workers and the Totobiegosode that could have fatal consequences,’ Survival’s statement to the UN continues. ‘The Totobiegosode are also extremely vulnerable to any form of contact with outsiders because of their lack of immunity to diseases.’

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry said today, ‘It's ironic. The Brazilian government puts money into protecting its own uncontacted tribes, yet Brazilian companies are allowed to destroy the land and livelihoods of others elsewhere. We hope that the UN can step in and help save the Totobiegosode from being wiped out.’