Undercover audio tape proves Andaman ‘human safaris’ continue

January 12, 2012

Vehicles queue to enter the Jarawa reserve along the Andaman Trunk Road © G Chamberlain/ Survival

This page was created in 2012 and may contain language which is now outdated.

A secret recording of a tour operator in the Andaman Islands telling an undercover journalist to provide 10-15,000 rupees (£120-180/ $180-275) to pay off the police proves that the now notorious ‘human safaris’ are still happening, and provides fresh evidence of police involvement in the scandal.

The tape (mp3 audio file) was recorded last month by journalist Gethin Chamberlain.

Undercover recording from the Andaman Islands. Recording by Gethin Chamberlain.

Asked how much a trip to see the Jarawa tribe would cost, the Port Blair-based tour operator says, ‘For the trip, uh, vehicle and… all like 25 to 30,000 like that. Because the policeman take 10 to 15 like that. And vehicle and some gift to the tribals also… like fruits, biscuits…’

Stung by the international outrage that has greeted these disclosures, some in the islands’ administration have claimed that the video was shot ten years ago, before precautions were put in place – but the new audio recording proves that they continue today.

Survival International first revealed the existence of the ‘human safaris’ in 2010.

In response to the latest revelations, one of the leading experts on the Andaman Island tribes, Professor Anvita Abbi of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has said, ‘This happened in the knowledge of the authorities. How can the administration claim they have no knowledge of this?’

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This recording provides concrete proof that human safaris are still occurring. The only reason that they are still occurring is because of the Andaman Trunk Road through the Jarawa reserve. Ten years after the Indian Supreme Court ordered the road to be closed, it’s shocking that the Andaman Administration is defying this order by keeping it open. The government could end human safaris today – by closing the road.’

Undercover Human Safari recording transcript. December 2011

Man: There is the, if you want, two procedure… one is, the illegal, you go on the… on the… way on the road Baratang, in the, in the vehicle four-wheeler. That time (if) the vehicle is less vehicle, traffic will be less, then easily you can meet and taking photograph (unclear).

If the traffic is more, back side also car, front also car, bus, then it’s not possible. ..(unclear) sit in the vehicle, go and come back from that place.

(Unclear… for easy one… now, not…) How many days you stay here?

Gethin: Three or four.

Man: Three or four days. Ah… visit in next time because we can arrangement with the police department. He taking some money. You can get duty on there.

Gethin: Is it safe? Am I going to get arrested? (laughs)

Man: No it’s a (unclear). No no not like that, we can safely… we can give the money safely. Because there that is the security man of that tribal.

Gethin: (noise – okay? Yeah?)

Man: You understand?

Gethin: Yeah.

Man: You can attach with that person, deal with that person, who are the… who will be the safeguard of tribal.

Gethin: Yeah.

Man: You can consult with them. You give… you take some money (loud car noise… unclear) give to the tribal…

Gethin: then?

Man: Then you ask, ask, 10,000 15,000 like that, money. That…

Gethin: It’s a lot of money.

Man: Then you can meeting, take your time, and come back.

Gethin: How long do you go for?

Man: You go early morning 4 o clock from this place and next day come back.

Gethin: How much (unclear)?

Man: For the trip, uh, vehicle and… all like (unclear) 25 to 30,000 like that. Because the policeman take 10 to 15 like that. And vehicle and some gift to the tribals also… like fruits, biscuits… you can take some gift items too.