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India: Tragedy Strikes Andamans Tribe


10 December 2008

India: Tragedy Strikes Andamans Tribe

Eight members of the Onge tribe in the Andaman Islands, India, have died and 15 more are in hospital after drinking from a container which washed ashore on their island reserve.

The Onge numbered just 100 before this tragedy. They were devastated following British occupation of the islands in the 19th Century. In 1900 they numbered around 670 people.

They now face the prospect of losing around 10% of their entire surviving population in one go. Before this blow, their numbers had been stable for several decades.

It is thought that the Onge believed the plastic can contained alcohol. Although the Onge can hunt and fish, many have become dependent on rations from the islands’ administration, and some have become dependent on alcohol.

By contrast the two more isolated tribes of the islands, the Jarawa and Sentinelese, are still self-sufficient.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, said today, ‘This is a calamity for the Onge. If any more die, it could put the survival of the entire tribe in serious danger.’


© Scoop Media

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