A Brazilian Indian, believed to be the world's oldest living person, is preparing to celebrate her 121st birthday on Sept. 3, according to Survival International, an indigenous rights organization working in the Amazon.
Maria Lucimar Pereira is a member of the Kaxinawa tribe, living in the western Brazilian Amazon near the Peru border.
According to documents, she was born on Sept. 3, 1890 on a rubber plantation and witnessed the rubber boom, which swept through the region at the end of the 19th century and wiped out roughly 90 percent of the indigenous population.
Pereira only speaks her native Kaxinawa - not Portuguese - having always lived in the remote countryside.
She attributes her longevity to several factors. She enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle and claims to have only eaten natural foods from the forest like grilled meat, fish, monkey, banana porridge, and manioc (a root vegetable). She's never eaten salt, sugar or any processed foods.
She's never lived in a city and has only traveled to the nearby city of Feijó, population 31,000.
These days, Pereira's family says she enjoys walks through the forest to visit her grandchildren and other relatives to tell stories.
Survival International, who located the woman, says her longevity is a great sign for indigenous people.
All too often we witness the negative effects forced change can have on indigenous peoples, Survival's Director Stephen Corry said in a statement. It is refreshing to see a community that has retained strong links to its ancestral land and enjoyed the undeniable benefits of this.
Corry is a British anthropologist and an expert on the status of the Indians of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. As the director of Survival, he advocates for the protection of the way of life of South American indigenous people - in particular, those that remain willfully isolated from civilization.
Corry notes that old age isn't uncommon in Pereira's village. Community leader Carlos told Survival that out of the 80 inhabitants in the village, four are more than 90 years old.
Most in the community, like Pereira, eat natural foods and don't use soap or any artificial products from the city.
Current Record Holders:
At present, American Besse Cooper, born on Aug. 26, 1896, holds the official title of the world's oldest person. If Pereira's age is verified, she would beat out Cooper by six years, having lived on earth a record 44,165 days.
Staff for Brazil's National Institute of Social Security found the elderly lady on a routine check of state birth records. Brazilian social workers are still trying to verify if there were any mistakes on the birth certificate. So far, no irregularities have been found.
Last year, it was reported that Antisa Khvichava, a woman belonging to an ethnic Caucasian group in remote Georgia, was the oldest person in the world at age 131. Reports at the time joked that she enjoyed her vodka and loved to play backgammon. However, doubts about the accuracy of her claim surfaced when it was found that, based on her declared date of birth, she would have had her youngest son when she was 60.
Jeanne Calment, of France, holds the record for reaching the oldest age at 122 years and 164 days. Passing away in 1997, she claimed to have met Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and enjoyed a life of leisure.
Pereira, who's said to have 10 children and 22 grandchildren, may be on track to take the record.