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The Andaman Islands are home to the Jarawa tribe (_e.t)

'Human safari park' threatens endangered Jarawa tribe

28th June 2011

Calls are being made to boycott an illegal road which cuts through India's Andaman Islands – home to the endangered Jarawa tribe

The Andaman Trunk Road was ordered to be closed by India's Supreme Court in 2002 but it still remains open and poses a high threat to the indigenous community who have a population of just 365.

'Survival', an organisation which campaigns for tribal people's rights worldwide, has called for travellers to boycott the road which runs through the Andaman Islands, a destination growing in popularity among tourists.

Rules to protect the Jarawa reserve and its community are routinely broken and thousands of tourists – both Indian and international – travel along the road each month, making the reserve in effect, a human safari park.

The hunter-gatherer Jarawa, have only had friendly contact with outsiders since 1998 so there is a high risk of tourists passing on diseases to the community who have little immunity.

In 1999 and 2006, the Jarawa suffered an outbreak of measles, which historically has decimated many indigenous communities worldwide following outside contact. The ongoing use of the Andaman Trunk Road risks a repeat of previous outbreaks.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry said, "We’re calling today for all tourists to boycott the Andaman Trunk Road, which the local administration has kept open in defiance of a Supreme Court order nine years ago to close it.

“Despite the regulations, tourists are still invading the Jarawa’s territory, putting the population's lives at risk and treating them like animals in a zoo. If the situation does not improve we will call for a boycott of all tourism to the Andamans."

Tour companies and cab drivers are notorious for “attracting” the Jarawa with biscuits and sweets, and children in the community are particularly drawn to food thrown from the vehicles. A number of Jarawa children have been injured as a result of being lured into the road, with one child losing his hand as a result.

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