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Andaman Islands 1992, 1993

They kill every intruder with bow and arrow

(A risky contact with a people in the Stone Age)

On a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal, between the Indian mainland on one side and Burma and Sumatra on the other, an indigenous people still live today as they did in the Stone Age. They call themselves Jarawas, which means “the other people”. They have been killing every intruder with bows and arrows for centuries, having had their experiences with Malaysian pirates around 800 years ago …

Today, these proud hunter-gatherers are threatened with extinction and are fighting a hopeless battle for survival. Week after week, reports about them and their deeds adorn the front pages of the daily newspapers in the capital Port Blair. They attack settlers, kill livestock and even people. Scientists, ethnologists, ethnographers, film crews, photographers, journalists and authors are strictly forbidden to have any contact with the Jarawas. Anyone who defies this ban must expect severe penalties, e.g. several years in prison.

The Jarawa Reserve is a restricted military area and is therefore sealed off from the outside world. Tanja and I ignored this ban and embarked on a more than risky expedition. Our chances of discovering natives of this tribe on the 700 km long coast of these islands surrounded by sharp-edged reefs were very slim. But we managed the almost impossible and made contact with a small group of Jarawas. Many before us have failed in their attempts to establish such contact – even the unforgotten Jacques Cousteau and a geo-team in 1996.

With this expedition to the origins of mankind, we wanted to contribute to preserving at least a hint of the Jarawas for our posterity. We wanted to show that they exist and help a little so that they don’t disappear without a trace.

If time permits, I will publish a detailed report on our contact with the Jarawas in the “Andaman Jarawas Diaries” section.

Andaman Islands 1992/1993

Expedition to the endangered Jarawas. Tanja and Denis Katzer made unique contact with an indigenous people on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal who still live as they did in the Stone Age. The Jarawas, who were threatened with extinction, used to kill intruders with bows and arrows.

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