For more than 20 years he has lived alone in the Brazilian Amazon, eating nuts, fruit and game – a symbol of the struggle of the indigenous people who live in seclusion in the rainforest.
Now this man whose name was not known is dead, and his death made headlines around the world.
His life was marked by massacres that left him the sole survivor of a small tribe attacked by gunmen apparently hired by plantation owners seeking to exploit the pristine Amazon.
He was found dead on a hammock on August 23 in the indigenous territory of Tanaro. Authorities found no signs of violence and believe he died of natural causes.
Local news reports said the man was covered in the shiny feathers of a bird called a guacamaya, a type of parrot.
The indigenous Tanaro region covers 8,000 hectares (30 square miles) of protected rainforest in the state of Rondônia in southwestern Brazil, on the border with Bolivia. The reserve is surrounded by sprawling livestock farms.
Infested with rogue miners and illegal loggers, it is one of the most dangerous areas in Brazil, according to Survival International NGP.
NGO director Fiona Watson said the land of Tanaro “is like a green oasis in a sea of destruction”.
“The Hole Man” was first spotted in 1996 by a documentary team traveling with officials of the National Indian Corporation, a government agency that was investigating a massacre committed against his tribe.
Proving the presence of indigenous people in the Tanaro Forest area was necessary to give the area legal protection.
The footage was featured in a documentary called “Corumbiara” in 2009.
In it, a man’s eyes are seen peeking out from inside a thatched hut. A spear sticks out at one point, as if to scare visitors away. But no one utters a word.
Over the years, the Funai teams have returned with representatives of the neighboring tribes to try to determine what language the man speaks and learn more about his people.
But he made it clear that he didn’t want to involve anyone. Feeling threatened, on one occasion he fired an arrow that seriously injured a member of the visiting team.
“One can only imagine what this man was thinking, going through, living alone, unable to speak to anyone, and I think he is very frightened because any stranger to him is a threat, given his horrible experience,” Watson said.
After that, the authorities attempted to patrol his grounds and look for signs that he was still alive.
In his last known surviving shot – shot in 2011 but not released until seven years later – he is seen semi-naked chopping down a tree with an axe.
Besides the bows and arrows showing that he was hunting, there were gardens where he planted fruits and vegetables, such as papaya and cassava.
“We saw one of his gardens and it was full of produce – very beautifully preserved,” said Watson, who visited the site in 2005.
What surprised the researchers, however, were the many holes he dug – two meters (seven feet) deep with sharp spears at the bottom.
Funai said officials found 53 places where his home was in Tanaro County, always with the same structure: a small thatched hut with one door and a hole.
The holes were used to hunt animals but experts believe that it may also have been a place for him to hide from intruders or had some kind of spiritual purpose.
Watson said the holes were “a mystery with which he died,” as in the history of the Tanaro people.
Funai has identified 114 indigenous groups living in isolation in the Brazilian part of the Amazon.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)