Bulldozers have been photographed entering an uncontacted tribe’s territory in one of the remotest corners of South America.
The devastation wreaked by the bulldozers has been caught on satellite photographs. They have been hired by a Brazilian company, Yaguarete Pora S.A., to clear the land to make way for cattle-ranching in northern Paraguay. They are alleged to be hired from Jacobo Kauenhowen, owner of a large bulldozer business in the nearby Mennonite colony of Loma Plata.
The bulldozers’ entry onto the tribe’s land is completely illegal after Yaguarete had its licence to work in the area suspended by the government.
The tribe, the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, is the only uncontacted tribe in South America outside the Amazon. Thousands of hectares of their land, in an area called the Chaco in northern Paraguay, were destroyed by Yaguarete and another company, River Plate SA, last year.
Some Totobiegosode have already been contacted and have relatives among those who are still uncontacted in the forest.
According to a local organisation supporting the Totobiegosode, Yaguarete has made it clear to them that ‘it does not respect indigenous rights nor Paraguay’s laws.’
Uncontacted tribes are exceedingly vulnerable to any kind of contact because of their lack of immunity to outsiders’ diseases. In an emergency report to the UN last year, Survival described the threat to the Totobiegosode as ‘the most serious threat to tribal peoples anywhere in the world.’
Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The bulldozers must be stopped and withdrawn from the Totobiegosode’s territory. What kind of government would stand by while this continues?’