Poachers threaten survival of Jarawa tribe

WHERE DO THEY LIVE?

The Jarawa are believed to have lived in the tropical rainforests of the Andaman Islands for around 60,000 years. The islands, in the Bay of Bengal, were colonised by the British in the mid-nineteenth century, and are now part of India.


WHO ARE THEY?

The 300-strong Jarawa, along with the other Andaman tribes –the Sentinelese, the Onge and the Great Andamanese – were the sole inhabitants of the Andaman Islands until the British and then the Indians arrived. Their ancestors are thought to have been part of the first successful human migrations out of Africa.

The Jarawa travel around the forest in groups of 40 or 50. They build small temporary huts whilst on the move, and also make larger, more permanent, huts where several families live together. They collect honey, roots and berries, hunt pigs and monitor lizards, and catch fish with spears.


WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

The Jarawa resisted contact with the growing numbers of Indian settlers on their islands until 1998. Now, they are under serious threat. Poachers are camping for days at a time in their forest, hunting the animals they depend on and bringing disease, violence and exploitation.

It is illegal for outsiders to enter the Jarawa reserve. However, local officials are often complicit in the abuse of the tribe, and poaching continues.

The islands’ main highway (known as the Andaman Trunk Road) cuts through the Jarawa’s forest and brings poachers, settlers and tourists into the heart of their land. In 2002, India’s supreme court ordered that the road should be closed, but the local authorities have refused to comply.

In 1999 and 2006, the Jarawa suffered outbreaks of measles – a disease that has wiped out many tribes worldwide following contact with outsiders.


HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Please write to the Indian government using this text or your own words: ‘I am extremely concerned about the Jarawa people of the Andaman Islands. Settlers are entering their reserve, hunting the animals they depend on, and bringing disease, violence and exploitation. If this continues, the Jarawa will lose their independence, and may be wiped out. I urge you to ensure that outsiders are kept off the Jarawa’s land, that the Andaman Trunk Road is closed in accordance with the supreme court’s orders and that the Jarawa are allowed to make their own decisions about their future.’

Please send you letter(s) to:
Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi 110 001
India
Faw: +91 11 2301 9545

Mrs Sonia Gandhi
Chairperson
National Advisory Council
10, Janpath
New Delhi 110 011
India

For more ways to help, please visit: www.survival-international.org/jarawa


WHY BOTHER?

The local and international campaign for the Jarawa’s rights has already had a huge impact. The authorities had planned to resettle the Jarawa in villages, but they now recognise the tribe’s right to live on their land in the way they choose. Your help is needed to make sure the Jarawa’s land is protected and their future secured.


THE JARAWA’S STORY SO FAR

60,000 years ago >>
Ancestors of the Jarawa arrive on Andaman Islands.

1857 >>
Britain colonises the Islands. Decimation of the 5,000-strong Great Andamanese begins. By 2006 only 53 survive.

1970s >>
Indian government begins monthly contact missions to ‘pacify’ the Jarawa. Construction of Andaman Trunk Road starts.

1998 >>
Jarawa attacks against settler incursions cease, and period of peaceful contact follows. Disease epidemics ensue.

2002 >>
Supreme court orders closure of Andaman Trunk Road, but local administration keeps it open in defiance of court.

Their future is in your hands.