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Rare Footage Shows First Glimpse Of "World's Loneliest Man" In Decades

FUNAI

In footage released by the Brazilian government agency FUNAI, a man swings his ax, almost hidden from view by lush rainforest trees.

The clip doesn't exactly scream "viral video," except that the figure with the ax is nicknamed "the World's Loneliest Man."

This new video is our first glimpse of him and his secretive life in the Amazon jungle since 1996.

The Uncontacted Tribes

Uncontacted Tribes
Survival International

The man in the video is a member of one of the world's last Uncontacted Tribes.

These small groups of people who are not in contact with wider society can be found around the planet, but there are more than 100 in the Amazon rainforest alone.

What sets the World's Loneliest Man apart is the fact that the rest of his tribe were killed, leaving him all alone.

FUNAI, Brazil's department of Indigenous Affairs, says local ranchers in Brazil's Tanaru province used hired gunmen to clear the surrounding land, along with the native tribes living on it.

"In the 1980s, disorderly colonization, the establishment of farms and illegal logging in [the region of Rondônia] led to repeated attacks on the isolated indigenous peoples who had lived there," FUNAI wrote in a statement.

During construction in the 1990s, the tribe was whittled down to just six people. A final attack killed five, leaving the last member alone in the jungle.

An archival photograph of the man.FUNAI

FUNAI says they reached out to him in 1996, but the man made it clear he wants to avoid contact with other people - and who could blame him?

"I think he’s better off as he is than if he’d made contact."

FUNAI has continued to observe the man for the last two decades, in order to protect him from another attack.

The man builds huts with special hiding places.Survival International

The last time anyone tried to contact him was 2005, but aid organization Survival International says he was attacked by gunmen in 2009.

Along with the risk of violence, contact with the public could put the man in danger of catching influenza, or measles.

While there are just a handful of photographs of the man, researchers have discovered his huts, gardens, and huge holes he dug to snare wild animals.

A six-foot hole dug by the man to catch wild animals.Survival International

Fiona Watson, the advocacy director for Survival International, says the man shows "tremendous resilience" because local tribes normally hunt in groups.

"One of the interesting things in the video is that he appears to be in good health," she adds, since the man is believed to be in his 50s now.

Altar Algayer, FUNAI's regional head, says the mystery man is doing "very well, hunting, maintaining some papaya, corn."

A rare look at the man's face.Funai

"This man, who none of us know, and who’s lost almost everything, including the rest of his people, proves it’s possible to survive, and resist contact," Algayer said.

"I think he’s better off as he is than if he’d made contact."

Do you think the man is better off on his own?

Here are more mysterious stories from around the world:

[H/T: FUNAI, Survival International, Fox News, BBC]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com