Last Survivor of Uncontacted Amazon Tribe Caught on Camera

The only surviving member of a reclusive Amazonian tribe has been caught on camera in the Brazilian rainforest.

The man, believed to be in his 50s, has been living alone for the past 22 years in Brazil's western Rondônia state. He was filmed chopping down a tree in the clearest ever footage of his activities, The Guardian reported.

Altair Algayer, a regional coordinator for the Brazilian Funai agency—which oversees the country's indigenous populations—was with the team who filmed the footage. "He is very well, hunting, maintaining some plantations of papaya, corn," Algayer explained. "He has good health and a good physical shape doing all those exercises."

A fisherman sails on a river near Porto Velho, the capital of the western Amazon’s Rondônia state, in Brazil, on November 19, 2009. A man recently videoed is believed to be the only survivor of a 1995 attack by farmers that killed five of his comrades. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Indigenous tribes in Brazil faced constant attacks from loggers, farmers and land grabbers during the 1970s and 1980s. The military government was unable or unwilling to protect natives, leading to a sharp drop in the population of indigenous tribes and the area available to them. The man videoed is believed to be the only survivor of a 1995 attack by farmers that killed five of his comrades.

He was discovered living alone in 1996 and has been monitored by Funai since then. He was briefly filmed in 1998 as part of the Brazilian documentary Corumbiara. Funai protects tribes by avoiding contact with them and setting up surrounding exclusion zones. The group has observed the area since the 1990s and established it as the Tanaru reserve in 2015. The man survived an attack by ranchers in 2009, but Funai said no one has strayed into the protected area in the past five years.

The man sustains himself on forest pigs, monkeys and birds caught using a bow and arrow and holes filled with sharpened wooden sticks. Because of this, he is known as the indigenous Man of the Hole. He lives in a shelter built deep in the forest, sleeping in a hammock strung over yet another hole in the ground.

Funai officials have attempted to make contact with the Man of the Hole several times, but have always been rebuffed. Axes, machetes and seeds have been left for the man to find and use, but he has rejected all attempts to build a relationship. Algayer said he understands the rejection, believing it is "his sign of resistance, and a little repudiation, hate, knowing the story he went through."

An illegal logging camp covered with blue tarpaulin is pictured in the Bom Futuro National Forest near Rio Pardo in Porto Velho, Rondônia state, Brazil, on September 3, 2015. Such activities threaten indigenous communities in the area. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

There are around 240 tribes currently living in Brazil, with a total population of about 900,000 people, or 0.4 percent of Brazil's population, according to Survival International—a human rights organization that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples. Brazil has established 690 territories, or about 13 percent of the country's total landmass, in which indigenous populations can live.

There are thought to be around 80 uncontacted groups still living in the Amazon area. They are at risk from illegal logging, violence from farmers and the spread of diseases to which they have no resistance. Brazil's government recently passed a law loosening environmental protections in the Amazon. Campaigners argue this will invite deforestation, which could prove catastrophic for indigenous communities.

For the Man of the Hole, Survival International's Research and Advocacy Director Fiona Watson told The Guardian, "The fact he is still alive gives you hope. He is the ultimate symbol, if you like."

"The irony is we are finding out there are more of these isolated people than we thought. But it's also worrying that their cover is being blown," she added.

In a Funai Facebook post, Algayer said that despite "losing everything," the man "has proved that, even then, alone in the middle of the bush, it is possible to survive and resist allying with society."