The Andamanes 1992, 1993

Every intruder will be killed with bow and arrow

(Risky contacts to a stone-aged tribe)

The Andamanes – a group of islands in the Gulf of Bengal with the Indian mainland on the one side and Burma and Sumatra on the other – is populated by a primeval tribe who still today lives a stone aged way of life. They call themselves Jarawa, which translates “the different people”. For centuries they have been killing every intruder using bow and arrow, which is to be lead back to experiences they made with Malay pirates about 800 years ago…

Today these proud hunter-gatherers are to be considered an endangered species, and are faced with a hopeless struggle for survival. Every week the daily newspapers in the capital city Port Blair report about them and their activities on their front pages. They assault settlers, kill the livestock, and even humans. Any kind of contact to the Jarawa is strictly forbidden for scientists, ethnologists, anthropologists, film teams, photographers, journalists or authors. Anyone caught disregarding this restriction will face severe punishment, for instance several years of imprisonment.

The Jarawa Reserve is considered a military area, and is insulated accordingly. Tanja and I ignored the restrictions, and started a more than risky expedition. There was little hope of finding any members of this primeval tribe anywhere along the 700 kilometres of coastal line surrounding these islands with their sharp-edged coral reefs. However, we achieved what seemed almost impossible: we managed to make contact with a small group of Jarawa people. Many attempts prior to ours to contact these people had failed – even by the unforgotten Jacques Cousteau, or by a team from Geo in 1996.

This expedition to the origin of mankind was to be our contribution to the attempt of preserving even only little traces of the Jarawa people for posterity. We wanted to show they exist, and help to avoid their complete disappearance without leaving any traces for future generations.

If time allows, I shall publish a detailed account on our contact with the Jarawa in the category “Diaries Andamanes Jarawa”.


The Andamanes 1992/1993

Expedition to the endangered Jarawa tribe.
Tanja und Denis Katzer achieved the so far unheard-of: they managed to approach and establish contact to a primitive tribe in the Gulf of Bengal on the Andamanes who still today live a stone-age way of life. At that time, the endangered Jarawa tribe still used to get rid of intruders with bow and arrow.