Conflict with Jarawa as poachers overrun tribe’s land

July 4, 2006

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A man from the isolated Jarawa tribe has been beaten up by a poacher hunting illegally on the tribe's land. The incident comes in the wake of the Indian authorities' failure to prevent increasing numbers of outsiders invading Jarawa land, bringing disease and violence and hunting Jarawa game animals.

The poacher, from the town of Wandoor on South Andaman, has been arrested for poaching along with five others and released on bail.

'I think the Jarawa are very scared now,' said a local supporter of the Jarawa today. 'Poachers have made permanent camps inside their reserve.'

Survival and local groups have repeatedly urged the authorities to protect the 270 Jarawa and their land. In 2002, the supreme court of India ordered the closure of a highway that cuts through the Jarawa reserve.

However, the road remains open. Settlers on the islands are invading the reserve in increasing numbers, hunting animals, cutting down trees and bringing disease and violence. Earlier this year, the Jarawa were struck by measles, which has wiped out many tribal peoples worldwide.

A recent amendment to legislation means that imprisonment is mandatory for anyone caught poaching in the Jarawa reserve.

Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'Following the measles outbreak, this incident is yet another warning of the extreme seriousness of the situation facing the Jarawa. India must heed these warnings, or a unique people will disappear before our eyes. A new law on poaching is a step forward but the authorities must actually enforce it.'

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]