Protector Amazon tribal people killed by arrow

In Brazil, a top expert on isolated Amazon tribes was killed by an arrow in his chest. 56-year-old Rieli Franciscato was in a remote region in the northwest of the country to follow an indigenous tribe when he and his expedition were attacked

A policeman who accompanied the group said that Franciscato pulled out the arrow that hit him over the heart with his own hands. He shouted it out, pulled the arrow out of his chest, ran 50 meters and collapsed lifelessly

Franciscato worked for Funai, the government agency for the protection of indigenous people. According to photojournalist Uchadi, who travelled with him, Rieli was on his way to the isolated Cautario River tribe. That tribe is usually peaceful, Uchadi told the AFP press agency. But this time there were five armed men, it was like war

A local non-profit organisation, founded by Franciscato in the 1980s, says that the attackers could not tell whether they were friends or foe.

No contact

The Amazon is home to dozens of tribal peoples, according to Survival, an organization dedicated to these often threatened populations. In recent months, several peoples have been identified with whom no contact has been made before, Franciscato wanted to track and map these peoples, the organisation says.

Brazilian President Jaรฏr Bolsonaro has opened up protected areas in the Amazon for agriculture and mining since he took office in 2019. As farmers and loggers cut down and burn down large areas of Amazon rainforest, many indigenous tribes have been forced to abandon their original habitat. This makes them very hostile to outsiders in their territory, experts say.

Conservationists and environmentalists blame Bolsonaro for not protecting the indigenous reserves and allowing deforestation. Franciscato also criticised the Presidents policy on several occasions.

For more than 30 years he devoted his life to protecting isolated indigenous groups, says a Funai spokesman. He leaves an immense legacy for the protection of these peoples.