Last month, footage of the last remaining tribesman of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe was released by the Brazilian government's indigenous affairs department, FUNAI. In addition to the video showing a man thought to be in his early fifties hacking a tree with an axe-like object, the department published a series of photos and a second video of his home and surroundings.
The tribesman, nicknamed "the Man of the Hole", lives on his own in Rondônia, western Brazil, and is constantly on the run, FUNAI says. No one knows his name, the language he speaks, or even the tribe he once belonged to, and he completely rebuffs any contact with the outside world. After receiving a series of reports from local loggers in the nineties, FUNAI began tracking the man, confirming his existence in 1996.
Over the past 22 years, the department has continued to monitor the tribesman, and in the early noughties, he was designated a modest area of protected land. Despite their efforts, the man is not entirely safe. His land is surrounded by cattle ranchers, and in 2009, he was targeted by gunmen. It is thought that gunmen, hired by ranchers in want of the land, were the ones responsible for killing his tribe during the seventies and eighties.
His maloca (house) is made from straw and thatch. His abandoned campsites show he grows corn, manioc, papaya, pawpaw, and bananas. It probably took him days to clear the area using just his hands.
Inside, he stores arrowheads for hunting and torches made of tree resin. FUNAI often leaves traditional weapons like axes and machetes for the tribesman to find, while remaining extremely careful so as to avoid being seen.
His nickname, "the Man of the Hole", is down to the large holes – sometimes 2 meters (6.6 feet) deep – he digs in his maloca to hide in when intruders are near or in the surrounding area to catch animals. According to officials, the man spends much of his day hunting for animals like forest pigs, monkeys, and birds using a bow and arrow.
While he is the only survivor of his tribe, there is an estimated 150 million tribespeople living in more than 60 countries. Brazil holds more than anywhere else in the world, and FUNAI officials suspect there are 100 or more isolated groups in the country. Many, like "the Man of the Hole", are under threat from industry, like the ranching community, and urbanization.