RIO DE JANEIRO – The only survivor of an isolated tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, who has been monitored and supported by the government for decades, looks healthy in a rare new video that shows how he swings an ax on a tree this week
Anthropologists say that the man believed to be in his fifties lived alone in the jungle in the state of Rondônia, as other members of his tribe died in the 1990s, probably killed by ranchers
are a symbol of the resilience of the more than 100 isolated communities that are under pressure in remote parts of Brazil as peasants, miners and loggers continue to push into the Amazon jungle.
The National Indian Foundation or Funai, a government agency that supports indigenous communities, attempts to contact the man a few times, starting in 1996. But he has responded to outsiders with hostility. In 2005, he wounded a Funai official by firing an arrow.
Since then, the government has decided to remotely help the mysterious man leave tools and seeds to grow crops and keep intruders out of his habitat. this is a protected indigenous territory.
Funai took the man from afar in the new video. Videos like these are made to justify the legal and regulatory protections extended to indigenous areas.
Altair Algayer, a Funai official involved in monitoring the man and securing his territory, said he marveled at the survivor's resolve
"This man, who is a mystery to us, has lost everything 'His people, a series of cultural practices,' said Mr Algayer in a statement. "Yet he has proven that despite being alone in the jungle, it is possible to survive and resist the mainstream society."
For decades, anthropologists and indigenous activists have debated whether they should seek contact with isolated strains. Vaccination against diseases that could quickly wipe out isolated communities.
Since the late 1980s, the Brazilian government has attempted to contact isolated tribes simply because they believe they are in immediate danger.
Experts say defending isolated strains is challenging.
"The problem is that there are no empty spaces in the Amazon," said José Carlos Meirelles, a former Funai official working with isolated tribes since 1971. "You fly over it and see the whole forest, But down there it is full of people – drug dealers, illegal loggers and others."
Fiona Watson, the research and advocacy director of Survival International, a group of Dr , "It looks healthy, it's very encouraging," she said, "that the new video will boost efforts to protect indigenous areas." "He has long survived that in a very violent border region of the Amazon."
Budget cuts have forced Funai to close surveillance posts in remote areas, and its installations have been attacked because miners and loggers have dug deeper into the Amazon. The body responsible for monitoring the sole survivor was searched in 2009.
wife. Watson said the man in the video embodied the right to self-determination to which the last isolated people in the world should be entitled.
"It is the ultimate symbol of resilience and resistance," she said. "But we are experiencing a genocide in real time – once he's gone, his people will be gone forever, along with all their history and knowledge, and for me that's a big loss that can and must be stopped."
Manuela Andreoni contributed to the coverage.