Friday, December 31, 2004

The Hearty Tribes of Andaman


Andaman & Nicobar Islands

The Paleolithic tribes inhabiting the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, situated on the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean, are a hearty lot. And, unlike the Tasaday of the early 70s, these little-known peoples are the real deal.

This semi-nomadic population of 1,000 hunters, fishermen, and fruit-gatherers have seemingly emerged unscathed from this week's direct hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Having been almost entirely cut off from the outside world since their ancestors first arrived on a now-submerged mountain chain south of Burma as much as 60,000 years ago, they also maintain an attitude:
"A coastguard helicopter pilot saw several groups of Sentinelese on their North Sentinel island yesterday. When the pilot tried to drop food parcels, the islanders reportedly threw stones at the helicopter. "
Like the mystery of the wild animals, these tribes seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to surviving in nature, skills that those of us in the "developed" world have bred out of our gene pool many generations past.

And they're going to need to remain at the top of their game. It seems that the earthquake has awakened these islands' last remaining volcano.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, helicopters, and now volcanoes. . . the only thing worse would be a visit from Clare Short. . .