India to allow 'human safaris'

2013-03-07 16:39

India's Supreme Court has reversed its recent ban on "human safaris" in the Andaman Islands, despite rigorous campaigning.

Wanderlust reports that the "interim order", implemented in January, reduced the number of vehicles entering the Jarawa reserve by around two thirds.

However, as news of the reversal has spread, tour operators are reportedly already preparing for the reopening of the road.

This comes despite the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation, passed in 1956, which states that it is illegal for tour operators to make contact with the Jarawa.

Revoking this order follows years of controversy surrounding the privacy of the indigenous Jarawa tribe of the Andaman Islands - officially part of India. The tribe has inhabited the Andaman Islands for several thousand years and, until recently, had little or no contact with the outside world. Today fewer than 400 tribespeople are left.

The road traversing the Jarawa's inhabited land has become increasingly popular as a vantage point from which tourists can view and interact with the tribe. Tourists have taken to touring the road, throwing food, and taking photographs of the tribe. In an extreme case last year, video footage emerged showing Jarawa women who had been told to dance in exchange for food.

The supreme court's reversal has dealt a heavy blow to the campaign group Survival International. The group have campaigned for years to stop these "human safaris", arguing some tourists treat the Jarawa like animals in a zoo, as well as potentially exposing them to diseases for which they have little immunity.


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