The ‘man in the hole’ had lived in isolation for 26 years after other members of his tribe were killed by loggers and illegal miners.
The last of his people, a Brazilian native known only as ‘the man in the hole’, has been found dead, decades after the rest of his uncontacted tribe was killed by ranchers and illegal miners, sources said. responsible.
The man – whose real name has never been known to the outside world – was found in a hammock in a hut in the indigenous territory of Tanaru, in the state of Rondonia, on the border with Bolivia, on August 23 , the National Indian Foundation of Brazil (FUNAI) said in a statement. . He had lived in complete isolation for 26 years.
Since losing all his knowledge, man has refused all contact with the outside world and supports himself by hunting and farming. His nickname derives from his habit of digging deep holes inside the huts he built, perhaps to trap animals but also to hide inside.
He lived in native territory surrounded by vast cattle ranches and under constant threat illegal miners and loggers in one of the most dangerous parts of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, according to Survival International.
Brazilian authorities did not comment on the cause of the man’s death, or his age, but said “there were no signs of violence or struggle”.
They also found no evidence of anyone else being in or around his house.
“Everything indicates that the death was from natural causes,” said FUNAI, a government agency under the justice ministry that deals with indigenous affairs.
Local media reported that the man’s body was covered in macaw feathers, prompting an expert to assume he knew he was close to death.
The man is thought to have been on his own since the remaining members of his small tribe were killed in the mid-1990s by illegal loggers and miners seeking to mine the tribal area.
Rights groups said the majority of the tribe were killed in the 1970s when ranchers moved into the area, cutting down the forest and attacking the inhabitants.
“With his death, the genocide of these indigenous people is complete,” said Fiona Watson, director of investigation at Survival International, who visited Tanaru territory in 2004.
“It was truly genocide: the deliberate elimination of an entire people by herders hungry for land and wealth,” she added.
According to the most recent government data, there are a few 800,000 Aboriginal people belonging to more than 300 distinct groups living in Brazil, a country of 212 million inhabitants.
More than half live in the Amazon, and many of them are threatened by the illegal exploitation of the natural resources on which they depend for their survival.
According to FUNAI, there are 114 records of isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, although the number varies.
Under Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in the Amazon reached an all-time high in the first half of 2022.
The president, who is lagging in the polls ahead of this year’s elections, encouraged mining and agricultural activity in protected areas, angering environmentalists.