North Sentinel Island is circled by spectacular clear sapphire water, a secure ring of submerged coral reefs and completely covered by a thick mangrove jungle that ends at the powdery white beaches. This outcast paradise, removed from all civilization, is surrounded by more mystery than any bollywood movie.
From the sky it appears to be an idyllic island with amazing beaches and a dense forest, but tourists or fishermen don’t dare to set foot on this outcrop in the Indian Ocean due to its inhabitants’ fearsome reputation.
In a world of rapid urbanization, we often assume there are no tribes left isolated without external contact on Earth. But the Sentinelese people who inhabit the tiny island of North Sentinel that is part of the Andaman group of islands in the Bay of Bengal are living proof to the contrary.
Visitors who venture onto or too close to North Sentinel Island risk being attacked by members of a mysterious tribe who have rejected modern civilisation and prefer to have zero contact with the outside world.
When they do interact with outsiders, it usually involves violence – the indigenous Sentinelese tribe killed two men who were fishing illegally in 2006 and have been known to fire arrows and fling rocks at low-flying planes or helicopters on reconnaissance missions.
Believed to number anywhere from 50 to 400, the Sentinelese have lived in isolation on the island for 60,000 years, resisting attempts by authorities and anthropologists to study their culture and integrate them into the modern world.
And when someone wanders to their island they relentlessly murder them. So protective are the Sentinelese of their territory that an Indian coastguard helicopter that attempted to retrieve the fishermen’s bodies (they had been tossed into shallow beach graves after their killing) was greeted by a volley of arrows from the tribesmen that prevented the craft from landing.