Uncontacted Tribes in Paraguay Spotted, Relatives Call for Action

By 03 November, 2011

Leaders of Paraguay’s Ayoreo tribe are calling on the government to stop cattle farmers from destroying their forests after signs of their uncontacted relatives were found on a ranch. The Ayoreo say they overheard uncontacted Indians on the ranch and on further inspection they found “fresh footprints and marks on the trees where (their) relatives had been searching for honey”.

Most of Paraguay’s Ayoreo have been forced out of their forests but others, including family members of the contacted Ayoreo, avoid the outside world.

This recent discovery is the second this year to be found on land belonging to Brazilian company River Plate S.A., in Paraguay’s northern Chaco region. The controversial company made international headlines after satellite pictures revealed it was illegally clearing forest claimed by the Ayoreo as their own.

In a letter the Ayoreo ask the government to protect the uncontacted Indians “whose lives are at risk”. They say as long as their ancestral lands are being “violated by bulldozers”, their uncontacted relatives are threatened and “forever running and hiding.”

Survival International‘s Director Stephen Corry said today, “If Paraguay recognises non-Indian claims on Ayoreo land (or sells Ayoreo land), then it’s violating both the United Nations declaration as well as the international convention on indigenous peoples, both of which it has agreed to. Such claims are illegal and must be roundly rejected if the uncontacted Ayoreo are to be given a chance of survival. If they’re not, Paraguay risks damaging its international reputation.”

Earlier this year, Brazilian-owned firms BBC S.A and River Plate S.A. were caught red-handed illegally clearing land inhabited by uncontacted Ayoreo.

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