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 Spring 2014


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Campaign to end ‘human safari’

Jarawa on the Andaman Trunk Road which cuts through their reserve.
The Jarawa way of life is severely disrupted by hundreds of ogling tourists passing through their land every day. Photo courtesy Survival

Hundreds of tourists travel daily along the Andaman Trunk Road which runs through the Jarawa reserve, hoping to spot a member of the 400-strong Jarawa tribe, whose ancestors are thought to have been part of the first human migration out of Africa. The high level of intrusion severely disrupts the Jarawa way of life as hundreds of ogling tourists pass through their land every day. Two years ago, the world was shocked by an international exposé of Jarawa women being forced to dance in exchange for food.

The ‘human safaris’ have been condemned by the United Nations and India’s Minister for Tribal Affairs, who called them ‘disgraceful’ and ‘an embarrassment.’

In July 2012, the Supreme Court of India ordered the Andaman authorities to implement a Buffer Zone to protect the Jarawa from exploitation by tourists. The Court explicitly ordered two tourist attractions – a limestone cave and a ‘mud volcano’ – to close. But tourists continued to travel along the Andaman Trunk Road to visit the attractions, and the human safari continued. In January 2013 the Supreme Court of India banned tourists from travelling along the road which cuts through the Jarawa reserve. By March 2013, however, the Supreme Court had reversed this interim order – the Andaman Trunk Road was reopened to tourists to visit the limestone cave, but photography of Jarawas and giving them food was prohibited.

Survival has been campaigning for many years for the closure of the road that passes through the Jarawa reserve. It first alerted the world, in 2010, that tour operators were treating the Jarawa like animals in a zoo.  There was a call for tourists to boycott the road. Just weeks after Survival launched a tourism boycott of the Andaman Islands to stop the degrading ‘human safaris’ to the Jarawa tribe, several travel companies joined the boycott and over six thousand people pledged not to visit the islands until the tours were stopped, following worldwide media coverage.

The Supreme Court had first ordered the local administration to close the road in 2002, but it had continued to remain open.

But despite the Supreme Court ruling of January 2013, which temporarily stopped tourists from travelling along the road, the Andaman administration is reluctant to provide tourists and locals with an alternative sea route, and has kept the road open to tourists.


Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times



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