This man is the sole survivor of an uncontacted tribe in a remote part of Brazil’s rainforest. The outside world is unaware of his name, language, culture, or the majority of his story. However, he may be putting himself in grave danger.
The footage of “the most isolated man on the planet” was shot in the western Brazilian state of Rondônia in 2011. It depicts a long-haired man in his 50s hacking at a tree with a sharp tool while the sounds of the rainforest trickle and tweet around him.
The video was recently released by FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, to highlight the ongoing conflict between uncontacted people and the unstoppable growth of powerful agribusiness.
Until now, there was only a single blurry image of him.
For the past 22 years, FUNAI has been keeping a close eye on this man. Following reports from local loggers of a lone tribesman stalking the rainforest, they confirmed his existence in 1996.
He’s known as the “Last of his Tribe” because he’s roamed the Amazon rainforest alone since his tribe was slaughtered. During the 1970s and 1980s, a series of massacres carried out by gunmen hired by ranchers decimated his tribe and many other nearby groups. He was the last one standing by the mid-1990s.
Because he has avoided all “contact” with outsiders, much of what we know about him has come from his abandoned campsites (image below). Activists discovered that he grows corn, maniocs, papayas, and bananas here. They also discovered 2-meter (6.6-foot)-deep pits with spikes at the bottom, which were intended to catch and eat animals.
During the 2000s, the man was given a small area of protected land that was off-limits to people and development, but this did not alleviate his plight. The man was shot at by gunmen in 2009. Authorities believe he was actively targeted by people with ties to agribusiness in order to remove him from the land and remove the protection order. Now that his “safe zone” is completely surrounded by cattle farms and developers hungry for more land, the future of his “safe zone” is looking increasingly uncertain, especially as political tensions rise in the run-up to Brazil’s presidential elections in October.
“Uncontacted tribes are not primitive relics from the distant past.” They exist in the present moment. They are our contemporaries and a vital part of humanity’s diversity, but they face extinction unless their land is protected,” Survival International Director Stephen Corry said in a statement.