Due to a rainstorm, a Brazilian photographer had his helicopter flight diverted. What he didn’t expect was the detour leading him to capture remarkable images of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe in a jungle in Jordao.
Indeed, it was a moment of luck for Ricardo Stuckert. He spotted the building while in Acre, a state in north-west Brazil near the Peruvian border. This region strictly protects its forests and indigenous inhabitants.
“I took the camera and started photographing,” said the Brazilian photographer. “I didn’t have much time to imagine what was happening.”
The high-resolution photos show a small group of people with plain clothing, weapons, and body paint which serves them as camouflage. During contact, one man even threw his spear towards the low-flying helicopter.
“I felt like I was a painter in the last century,” Stuckert said to National Geographic. “To think that in the 21st century, there are still people who have no contact with civilization, living like their ancestors did 20,000 years ago – it’s a powerful emotion.”
On his return flight, Stuckert was able to grab more images that provide fascinating clues to the lives of the uncontacted tribe.
Three isolated groups live in Acre state, according to José Carlos Meirelles, an expert in Brazil’s indigenous people for more than 40 years who was also on the flight. “At times a little detail could reveal a lot, and as the photos have the wonderful definition we can get closer to the details,” he said.
Experts claim that what Stuckert and his company have seen was the same indigenous tribe that gained global attention in 2008 when photos of tribesmen in red body paint depicted them launching arrows at a low-flying airplane. They are thought to be moving around about every four years or so.
Because they have not yet made peaceful contact with the outside world, the tribe’s name is still unknown. Brazilian authorities simply call them “isolated Indians of the upper Humaitá”.
Brazil has about 80 such groups in total, but their existence is threatened by illegal loggers, gold miners, and drug traffickers, increasing massively in 2014 when it rose by 467 %. The state of Acre, home to the aforementioned tribe, now imposes strict anti-logging laws.