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Survival for tribal peoples

Study reveals world's highest deforestation rate on uncontacted tribe's land

Ranching companies are intent on clearing the last forest refuge of the uncontacted Ayoreo.
Ranching companies are intent on clearing the last forest refuge of the uncontacted Ayoreo.
© GAT / Survival

A new scientific study has revealed that Paraguay’s Chaco forest – the last refuge of the uncontacted Ayoreo tribe  – is being devastated by the world’s highest rate of deforestation.

The study by the University of Maryland found that ’Paraguay’s Chaco woodlands (…) are experiencing rapid deforestation in the development of cattle ranches. The result is the highest rate of deforestation in the world.’

These dramatic satellite images show the astonishing extent of forest destruction in the Chaco between 1990 and 2013 – and also that the area claimed by the Ayoreo (red outline) is one of the last remaining patches of forest left.

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Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the Indians depend on the forest for their survival and have protected it over thousands of years.

Paraguay’s Environment Ministry recently caused outrage by granting Brazil-owned ranching companies Yaguarete Pora S.A. and Carlos Casado S.A. (a subsidiary of Spanish construction company Grupo San José) licenses to clear the Ayoreo’s forest, despite it being within a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

The uncontacted Ayoreo are forced to live on the run from the bulldozers constantly clearing their forest. Any contact with the ranchers could kill them as they lack immunity to diseases brought in by outsiders.

In an urgent appeal to the UN’s Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples, the Ayoreo organization OPIT said, ’(For the Ayoreo and their uncontacted relatives), protecting the forest and their territories constitutes life itself.

‘Yaguarete and Carlos Casado’s ranching projects on the ancestral land of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode would obliterate and devastate their forest system with all its natural resources.’ 

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said today, ‘For how much longer will Paraguay boast two UNESCO biosphere reserves? With the world’s highest rate of deforestation, the Chaco won’t last forever: with it, the country’s only uncontacted tribe will be obliterated. The government must stop Brazilian ranchers destroying its people’s heritage before it’s too late for the Chaco, and too late for the Ayoreo.’

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Kidnap and sexual exploitation of vulnerable Andaman tribe reported

Reports of the kidnap and abduction of Jarawa women have led to concerns about sexual exploitation of the vulnerable tribe by poachers.
Reports of the kidnap and abduction of Jarawa women have led to concerns about sexual exploitation of the vulnerable tribe by poachers.
© Survival

Seven men have been arrested in connection with the alleged abduction and kidnap of vulnerable Jarawa women on India’s Andaman Islands, according to local news reports.

These latest incidents were exposed by members of the Jarawa tribe who reported the eight women missing. It is just the latest in a string of extremely worrying reports of the sexual exploitation of Jarawa women, and the illegal supply of alcohol by poachers invading the Jarawa’s forest.

The Jarawa have only had friendly interaction with their neighbors since 1998 and are highly vulnerable to exploitation, diseases, and dependency on goods such as alcohol brought in by outsiders.

According to the reports, illegal poachers use the Jarawa women to help with hunting and gathering inside the tribe’s reserve.There are strong indications that the women are being lured by alcohol, and that sexual exploitation occurs on a regular basis.

Survival International has called on the Andaman authorities to take firm action against poachers supplying alcohol to the Jarawa, to urgently investigate the reports of sexual exploitation of Jarawa women, and to ensure that those responsible for exploiting and abusing members of the tribe are prosecuted.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This latest disturbing tale follows a spate of recent reports suggesting the regular sexual abuse of Jarawa women by outsiders. These men should never have even been on Jarawa land. There’s a simple solution: the authorities must put an end to poaching and enforce the boundaries of the reserve. It’s the only way to stop Jarawa women being exploited by these predators.’

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