The last member of an indigenous group in Brazil has died. The man, who came to be known as the Man in the Hole, had lived alone on the Tanaru indigenous lands of the Amazon rainforests, shunning all contact with the outside world.
He was the last known member of his tribe. Most other members were killed off in the 1970s by ranchers expanding over their territory.
According to the BBC, six of the remaining members of his tribe were killed in an attack by illegal miners in 1995.
The man, whose name is not known, became the sole surviving member of his tribe. Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) only became aware of his existence in 1996.
Over the following years, he rejected all attempts to be contacted, including when authorities left food packets for him.
He was found dead outside his hut on Tuesday, August 23. It is believed he was between 55 to 65 years of age.
The indigenous man’s body was found in a hammock outside his hut. Some reports suggest he was holding an ornamental feather, indicating he knew of his upcoming death. There were no signs of violence and his death has been attributed to natural causes, which will be confirmed by a medical examiner.
“(FUNAI) informs, with immense regret, the death of the indigenous known as ‘Tanaru Indian’ or ‘Hole Indian,’ who lived in voluntary isolation and was monitored and protected by Funai through the Ethnoenvironmental Protection Front,” FUNAI said in a statement. “The indigenous man was the only survivor of his community, of unknown ethnicity.”
The ‘Man in the Hole’ got his nickname from his proclivity for digging deep pits in the ground, possibly to trap animals and hide himself.
According to the most recent government data, there are some 800,000 indigenous people belonging to more than 300 distinct groups living in Brazil, a country of 212 million.
More than half live in the Amazon and many of those are under threat from illegal exploitation of natural resources that they rely on for their survival.
According to FUNAI, there are 114 records of isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, although that number varies.(With inputs from AFP)