Trespassers beware

Published: Tuesday 28 February 2006

Members of the world's most isolated tribe, the Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands, killed two fishermen who had illegally approached their island on January 26, 2006.

Sunder Raj and Pandit Tiwari were killed in their boat near North Sentinel Island. It is illegal to go within five kilometres of the island, in order to protect the Sentinelese from exploitation, violence, and diseases to which they have no immunity.

Numbering 50 to 200, the Sentinelese tribe has resisted contact with the outside world for up to 60,000 years now. The tribe is under serious threat from poachers, illegally fishing and diving for lobster around their island, thereby depriving the tribe of their essential food.

Samir Acharya of the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, a local ngo, said, "The Indian coast guard and police must be commended for resisting local pressure to retrieve the men's bodies, thus avoiding further contact with the Sentinelese.

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