UNESCO biosphere bulldozed by Brazilian ranchers 30 November 2009

A Totobiegosode man making string. The Totobiegosode's forest is being illegally destroyed by Brazilian ranchers.
A Totobiegosode man making string. The Totobiegosode's forest is being illegally destroyed by Brazilian ranchers.
© Survival

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve inhabited by an uncontacted tribe is being bulldozed by Brazilian cattle ranchers at a devastating rate.

A government representative and two relatives of the tribe have tried to enter the region, but personnel from the ranchers’ company, Yaguarete Pora S.A, barred them.

The reserve, in the Chaco region in Paraguay, is home to the only uncontacted tribe in South America outside of the Amazon, the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode.

The reserve is being destroyed despite UNESCO’s objective to protect the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, including ‘the recovery, legalization and return of the land to these native people. . . (It) helps to protect local indigenous communities’ homeland and cultural identity.’

The reserve also aims to protect ‘flagship species’ like the jaguar – an irony given that a Spanish language translation of that word, yaguarete, is the name of the company bulldozing the reserve.

Satellite photos show that thousands of hectares of the reserve have been destroyed, despite Yaguarete Pora having its license to work there withdrawn by the government.

The Chaco Biosphere Reserve was created in 2005. The general aim of these reserves, created under UNESCO’s ‘Man and the Biosphere Programme’, is to ‘innovate and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development.’

Survival Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Totobiegosode’s land is being destroyed as we speak. Given that their land falls within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, we hope that UNESCO can play a part in stopping this destruction and pressing for the recognition of their land rights.’


Share this news story


Act now to help the Ayoreo

  • Write a letter to Yaguarete Pora S.A. asking that it stops illegally destroying the Ayoreo’s forest.
  • Write a letter to Grupo San Jose asking it to hand back the Ayoreo’s land to its rightful owners.
  • Write a letter to the government of Paraguay asking it to demarcate the Ayoreo’s land in line with the country’s laws and treaties.
  • Donate to the Ayoreo campaign (and other Survival campaigns).
  • Write a letter to your MP or MEP (UK).

  • Write to the President, your senators, congressmen or other elected officials (US).

  • Write to your local Paraguayan embassy (you can find their address through embassiesabroad.com)


Get email updates from Survival:

Subscribe to our news feed:


or follow us on the web:

News archive