Tourists banned from Indian islands over risk of killing off local tribes

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Tourists are to be banned from large areas of resorts on the Indian islands because of fears they will bring disease which could wipe out the 350 remaining members of a local tribe.

The Indian government has introduced a buffer zone around a reservation for the threatened Jarawa tribe on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and ordered the closure of an expensive beach resort in an attempt to save the tribe from being driven into extinction.

Its Attorney General has told the Supreme Court there are now only 350 surviving members of the tribe, who are believed to be descendants of migrants from Africa, and that they are highly vulnerable to Western diseases and infections.

The government is determined to save the Jarawas after another of the islands' tribes was wiped out last month when its last surviving member died. Boa Sr, aged 85, was the last Bo-speaking member of the Great Andaman tribe which is believed to have migrated to the islands from Africa 65,000 years ago.

Until now, the Jarawas have fared better than the Bo because they have been protected by an official reservation in around 400 square miles of tropical rainforest. They survive by hunting wild boar and lizards, spear fishing on the blue waters off the island's palm-fringed beaches, and gathering seeds and berries from the forest.

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