Andaman tribesman presumed dead after conflict with poachers

December 1, 2008

Jarawa, Andaman Islands © Salomé/Survival

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A man from the remote Jarawa tribe on the Andaman Islands in India is missing and presumed dead following a conflict with a group of poachers who were fishing illegally on their land. Police have arrested the poachers.

The Jarawa man, called Hotelle and thought to be about 18 years old, was severely beaten in the conflict on 19 November. He was last seen struggling to keep afloat whilst the poachers continued to attack him. One of the fishermen was also killed by members of the tribe.

The poachers were camping near one of the Jarawa’s huts. When the Jarawa demanded some of the fish that had been caught in their reserve, the fishermen threw boiling water at them and beat them with sticks. The Jarawa killed one of the fishermen with their arrows, and the fishermen attacked a Jarawa man by beating him when he jumped into a river in an attempt to escape.

The invasion of their land by poachers poses a serious threat to the Jarawa, who number 320 and have only had friendly contact with the outside world since 1998. Poachers risk bringing in diseases to which the Jarawa have no immunity, and are rapidly depleting the wild foods on which the Jarawa are totally dependent. Entry to the Jarawa reserve by outsiders is illegal without a special permit, but poaching is now widespread.

Watch the first-ever filmed interview with a Jarawa talking about the invasion of their land by poachers

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This tragedy must surely galvanise the Indian government to act to keep poachers off the Jarawa’s land. The Jarawa have hunted and fished on their land for 60,000 years, but the number of poachers has become so great that they pose a serious threat to the tribe’s survival. Now two men have died in the conflict. Poaching must not be allowed to continue.’

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]