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The only uncontacted tribe in South America outside the Amazon is having its forest rapidly and illegally bulldozed by ranchers who want their land to graze cattle for beef.
The Ayoreo-Totobiegosode is the only uncontacted tribe in the world currently losing its land to beef production.
The ranchers’ operations were exposed by satellite photos taken on 1 November. Since 2 November, an ad by Survival publicising the deforestation has been playing on a major Paraguayan radio station, Radio Nanduti.
The ranchers, from Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora S.A., are operating on the tribe’s land in Paraguay despite having their licence suspended by the Environment Ministry in August for previous illegal clearance.
They are clearing the forest, the home of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe, using bulldozers alleged to belong to Jacobo Kauenhowen, owner of a large bulldozer business in a nearby Mennonite colony.
‘This is a serious threat to the Totobiegosode. The illegal deforestation carried out by Yaguarete in Paraguay is continuing without any control whatsoever,’ said the Paraguayan NGO GAT, which is working to protect the Ayoreo’s lands.
Last year Yaguarete, together with another Brazilian company, River Plate S.A., destroyed thousands of hectares of the tribe’s land.
Some of the Totobiegosode have already been contacted and have relatives among those who remain uncontacted.
Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Totobiegosode are the most vulnerable uncontacted tribe in the world. A tragedy is unfolding right before our eyes – and the satellite camera’s lens. President Lugo must not sit back and watch as Paraguay’s most vulnerable people see their homes and livelihoods annihilated.’