Andamans: US man's death puts spotlight on 'tribal tourism' | 2018-11-24 |

Andamans: US man's death puts spotlight on 'tribal tourism'

BBC     24th November, 2018 08:37:11 printer

Andamans: US man's death puts spotlight on 'tribal tourism'


The killing of an American national by members of an endangered tribe in the Andaman islands off India's east coast has renewed concerns over the surreptitious practice of "tribal tourism" in the archipelago, Omkar Khandekar writes.


The indigenous islanders of North Sentinel, among the last of the "uncontacted" tribes in the world, killed 27-year-old John Allen Chau with arrows when he went to their island last week.


Police said that Chau had paid 25,000 rupees ($354; £275) to six local fishermen to take him to North Sentinel. Media reports suggested he wanted to introduce the islanders to Christianity.


Andaman is home to five "particularly vulnerable" tribes. They are the Jarawas, North Sentinelese, Great Andamanese, Onge and Shompen. The Jarawas and the North Sentinelese haven't integrated with the mainstream population yet. This makes them a source of intrigue for many of the 500,000 tourists who visit the islands every year.


Earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs passed a notification exempting foreign nationals from having to acquire restricted area permits (RAP) to visit 29 islands in the archipelago.


The list includes nine islands in Nicobar and two in Andaman, occupied by tribal and indigenous communities considered "particularly vulnerable". Among them was also North Sentinel island.


But authorities insist tourists will still have to obtain permission from the district authority and the forest department to do so.


The Jarawas live in a 1,028km forest reserve between the south and middle Andamans.


To see them, many tourists take a two-hour bus ride from Andaman's capital Port Blair to Baratang which is home to limestone caves and mud volcanoes. To do so, they travel on the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) which cuts through the Jarawa reserves.