Bulldozers about to destroy the uncontacted Totobiegosode's land.
Bulldozers about to destroy the uncontacted Totobiegosode’s land. © GAT/Survival

Relatives of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes have condemned a Brazilian company’s plans to convert some of their land into a ‘natural reserve’.

The company, Yaguarete Pora S.A., announced its plans after destroying thousands of hectares of the tribe’s land and being severely criticized in the Paraguayan and international press for doing so.

The relatives of the tribe, the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, wrote to Paraguay’s Environment minister, pointing out that plans to create a ‘reserve’ violated their rights and both Paraguayan and international law. The Totobiegosode have been claiming legal title to this land since 1993, but most of it is still in private hands.

‘We are the ones who ensure the conservation of the forests on our land in accordance with the way we have always managed them. We are the ones who live in the forest and we are the ones who look after it,’ said the letter from Totobiegosode organisation OPIT to the Environment minister.

‘It is time that your ministry solves this huge problem for the Totobiegosode and their ancestral territories. You have already seen what is happening to our forests and to the places that mean so much to us historically – the places where we have always lived and where our relatives live without contact. Once again, we urge you to help us along this long path we have been treading since 1993.’

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This is just a devious attempt to detract attention from the fact Yaguarete has destroyed so much of the Totobiegosode’s land and intends to keep on doing so. It also means the company continues to be the owner of the land, rather than transferring ownership to the Totobiegosode themselves. It’s a public relations gimmick of the grossest kind.’