Indians plead for world’s help to save uncontacted relatives

Four Indians, including one man whose first contact with the outside world was just four years ago, have journeyed to Paraguay's capital city, Asunción, to appeal for help to save their uncontacted relatives, whose forest home is being rapidly destroyed.

The Indians' forests are being illegally bulldozed by Brazilian companies who want it to graze cattle for beef. Satellite photos show that the amount of their land being destroyed has doubled since May this year.

Esoi Chiquenoi, who was contacted in 2004 and has relatives still uncontacted in the forest, says, 'I'm appealing to the authorities to stop the destruction of our forest. My family is there now. That's where our houses are. More and more notices are appearing on our land prohibiting us from entering. We're losing our forest.'

Gabide Etacori says, 'The savages are the ones who are destroying the forest. We're the ones who really know the area – it's where our historical sites and burial grounds are. (Our relatives) need the forest to eat and for water; if the forest is destroyed they will die.'

The Indians, from the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe, have met with representatives from various government departments and other organisations. They hope to apply enough pressure on the authorities to stop the destruction of their forest, which is being carried out illegally by the firms Yaguarete Porá SA and River Plate SA.

The Totobiegosode live in an area of Paraguay known as 'the Chaco.' The number of uncontacted Totobiegosode, who are exceedingly vulnerable to any form of contact with outsiders, is not known. They are the only uncontacted people in South America outside the Amazon.

Survival's director, Stephen Corry, said today, 'This is a great opportunity for the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode to make their views and demands clear and draw further attention to the plight of their forest and uncontacted relatives. The Paraguayan government must sit up and take notice – if not, the uncontacted Indians may well be wiped out.'

View satellite photos taken from May to October this year of the destruction of the Totobiegosode’s land

Survival researcher Jonathan Mazower, who has met some of the contacted Totobiegosode, is available for interview.

ENDS

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]