|Boa Sr was the last member of the Bo tribe. © Alok Das|
One year after the death of the last member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands (January 26), Survival has warned that the neighbouring Jarawa tribe is also in danger.
Boa Sr, the last of the Bo, died last January aged around 85. The Jarawa tribe number 365 people, and fiercely resisted contact with outsiders until 1998.
Now an illegal road cuts through the Jarawa’s rainforest, and poachers and tourists invade their land. Poachers steal the animals the Jarawa need to survive and, like the tourists, risk introducing diseases to which the tribe have no immunity. Survival is urging the Indian government to close the road and to keep outsiders out of the tribe’s forest.
The MP for the Andaman Islands, who wants to keep the road open, called last month for India to ‘civilize’ the Jarawa.
The Bo, the Jarawa and other tribes are thought to have lived on the Andaman Islands for about 55,000 years, making them the descendants of some of the oldest human cultures on Earth.
The Bo were one of ten tribes now collectively known as the Great Andamanese. Most of the Great Andamanese were killed or died of diseases brought by the British, who colonized the islands in 1858. The British tried to ‘civilize’ them by capturing them and keeping them in an ‘Andaman Home’, where many died.
Survival’s Sophie Grig said today, ‘The Jarawa are perfectly capable of deciding their own future, as long as the forest they rely on is protected and they are not forced to live in the way someone else thinks best. History has shown that attempts to impose development on tribal people and remove them from their land are disastrous.’
Survival researchers who have visited the Andaman Islands are available for interview.