Imagine all your family and friends have been massacred and it’s only you left, no one else with exactly the same language and customs, just threatening human encounters that leave you constantly in fear and on the run.
This is daily life for one solitary man in the Amazon. Very little is known about him, but most experts guess his people were probably slaughtered by cattle ranchers who are increasingly closing in on all sides.
When his existence first became known twenty years ago, government officials specialising in uncontacted tribes did their best to trace him, soon finding one of his huts. They discovered a small garden, planted with corn and manioc and inside a large, deep hole. These mysterious pits are dug into all the shelters the agents have found, and have led to the man being nicknamed ‘the man of the hole.’
Each encounter to try and make contact ended in standoffs and anger, with one agent who got too near even being shot in the chest with an arrow. The lone man seems to move on when loggers, ranchers or anyone gets too close. He builds tiny shelters of palm thatch and uses his digging skills to make animal traps. Some experts have said the markings he leaves on trees indicate a spiritual life, perhaps helping him manage psychologically with the extreme solitude and isolation.
The Brazilian government has at least learnt from the countless incidents of tragedy concerning uncontacted tribes. Many attempts to assimilate people into modern day life ended in whole communities being wiped out by disease, to which they had no immunity. Now, officials are taking a ‘policy of no contact’ approach, which will be put to the test with the few remaining people who inhabit these truly wild areas.
The ‘man of the hole’ has 31 square miles of protected land that is not supposed to be encroached on and ironically modern satellite technology will help to ensure this. In the end it’s his choice if he wants to make contact or not, but for the moment he seems to want to live out his life in peace.