'Human safaris' to the JarawaAlthough India’s Supreme Court in 2002 ordered that the highway through the Jarawa’s reserve should be closed, it remains open – and tourists use it for ‘human safaris’ to the Jarawa. Poachers also enter the reserve.
In 1999 and 2006, the Jarawa suffered outbreaks of measles – a disease that has wiped out many tribes worldwide following contact with outsiders.
The ancestors of the Jarawa and the other tribes of the Andaman Islands are thought to have been part of the first successful human migrations out of Africa. Several hundred thousand Indian settlers now live on the islands, vastly outnumbering the tribes.
|The Jarawa thatch their shelters with leaves from the forest. © Salomé/Survival|
How do they live?The Jarawa hunt pig and monitor lizard, fish with bows and arrows, and gather seeds, berries and honey. They are nomadic, living in bands of 40-50 people. In 1998, some Jarawa started coming out of their forest to visit nearby towns and settlements for the first time.
|Jarawa, Andaman Islands © Salomé/Survival|
What problems do they face?The principal threat to the Jarawa’s existence comes from encroachment onto their land, which was sparked by the building of a highway through their forest in the 1970s. The road brings settlers, poachers and loggers into the heart of their land.
This encroachment risks exposing the Jarawa to diseases to which they have no immunity, and creating a dependency on outsiders. Poachers steal the game the Jarawa rely on, and there are reports of sexual exploitation of Jarawa women.
Tourism is also a threat to the Jarawa, with tour operators driving tourists along the road through the reserve every day in the hope of ‘spotting’ members of the tribe. Despite prohibitions, tourists often stop to make contact with the Jarawa.
How does Survival help?Since 1993 Survival has been urging the Indian government to close the road, protect the Jarawa’s land, and allow them to make their own decisions about their future.
In 1990 the local authorities announced that they intended to forcibly settle the Jarawa. Forced settlement was fatal for other tribes in the Andaman Islands, and has always been so for newly contacted tribal peoples worldwide. Following a vigorous campaign by Survival and local organisations, this plan was eventually abandoned.
In 2004 the authorities announced a radical new policy, stating that the Jarawa would be allowed to choose their own future, and that outside intervention in their lives would be kept to a minimum.
The Indian Supreme Court ordered the closure of the road through the Jarawa’s land in 2002 – yet it remains open, and poaching and exploitation are posing increasingly serious dangers.
Survival is campaigning to ensure that the road is closed and the policy of minimum intervention adhered to.
Act now to help the JarawaSurvival’s Andamans campaign focuses on the Jarawa, because their situation is the most precarious of the four tribes. Your support is vital for the Jarawa’s survival. There are lots of ways you can help.
- Donate to Survival’s campaign for the Jarawa and other threatened tribal peoples
- Write to the Indian government using Survival’s online letter-writing tool
- Write to your MP or MEP (UK) or Senators and members of Congress (US).
- Write to your local Indian high commission or embassy
- If you want to get more involved, contact Survival