Last survivor of Brazil tribe under threat: NGO
by Agence France-Presse
Tribal rights group Survival International has asked authorities in Brazil to do more to protect isolated Amazon communities after images surfaced of a man believed to be one group’s lone survivor.
The video, which has gone viral, shows a tribesman in a loincloth cutting down trees in the forest with an ax.
The images were made public by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), a government agency under the justice ministry that is tasked with handling indigenous affairs.
Although the footage dates back to 2011, the agency says it has been tracking the man and has recent evidence that he is still alive.
“It is impossible to know what the ‘Homem do Buraco’ feels, having witnessed the murder of his whole community, and living in a patch of rainforest surrounded by hostile ranchers and their gunmen,” Survival’s research director Fiona Watson told AFP.
The footage “proves he exists, and is a response to some politicians and some in agribusiness who accuse FUNAI of inventing uncontacted Indians,” she said.
According to FUNAI, the man lives on Tanaru territory in Rondonia state, near the border with Bolivia.
Experts believe that the man has lived alone for 22 years, after the other members of his tribe were slain by powerful land owners.
“Since the last attack in late 1995, the group, which was probably already very limited in numbers, was reduced to just one individual,” says FUNAI, which monitors 107 isolated indigenous groups living on Brazilian soil.
To survive, the man hunts and grows manioc, corn, bananas and papayas, says the agency, whose workers observe him. The man has so far refused all contact with others.
“FUNAI has suffered big budget cuts recently, and earlier this year closed some protection posts in areas where uncontacted indigenous people live, yet FUNAI is upping the numbers of possible uncontacted tribes,” said Watson.
“Never have these posts been more vital as the pressure mounts from agribusiness and mining interests.”
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 209 million.(AFP)