An expert on isolated Amazon tribes was on Wednesday killed by an arrow that hit him in the chest as he approached one. Rieli Franciscato, 56, a top expert for the Brazil government's indigenous agency, was approaching an indigenous group in a remote region of northwestern Brazil when he and his party came under fire, the BBC reports. He tried to take shelter behind a vehicle but was still struck above his heart, witnesses say. "He cried out, pulled the arrow from his chest, ran 50m (164ft) and collapsed, lifeless," says a police officer who accompanied Franciscato, who was on a mission to observe and monitor the Cautario River isolated group. NPR calls Franciscato "a tireless defender of isolated indigenous groups and their forest lands," and says environmentalists are mourning his death.
"He refused to accept the violent greed destroying the Amazon rainforest and its best guardians. He worked tirelessly to protect the lands of uncontacted tribes from outsiders," says one activist group. Per NPR, his mission involved shielding the tribe from a potential hostile encounter with outsiders, and some speculate he was mistaken for an invader by the indigenous group. His death has highlighted concerns conservationists have over some of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's policies, including his defunding of agencies like the one one Franciscato worked for and other environmental agencies, and his efforts to develop the Amazon—which some say has led to an increase in incidents involving illegal miners, farmers, ranchers, and loggers on indigenous lands. (Read more Brazil stories.)