Isolated desert island untouched by modern world is populated by deadly tribe

An island inhabiting a tribe of around 100 members has remained untouched by modern society and has been known to kill outsiders who venture there.

The North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal in the Northeastern Indian Ocean is occupied by the indigenous Sentinelese people, otherwise known as the North Sentinel Islanders.

The Sentinelese are a hunter-gatherer tribe who have refused interaction with the outside world and its island was declared a tribal reserve by the Government of India in 1956.

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The infamously hostile Sentinelese have killed people who have landed or approached the island.

The North Sentinel islanders' hostility to the outside world tracks back all the way to 1867 when British explorers were attacked before the Royal Navy sent a rescue party days later.

The reputation of the island meant that the Indian government prohibited travel within 3 nautical miles (5.6 kilometres) as well as banning photography.

The islanders are said to appreciate metal and following the MV Primrose running aground in the Bay of Bengal in 1981, 50 armed islanders stormed attempted to invade the ship to salvage iron for its weaponry and even took part in exchanges of scrap metal and fruit with M.A. Mohammed, a scrap dealer that was tasked with disassembling the ship.

Several expeditions in and around North Sentinel island have been conducted since the 1980s and in 2006, two Indian fishermen whose boat drifting towards the island after attempting to illegally harvest crabs were were killed by islanders with axes.

The most recent event surrounding the island occurred in 2018, when John Allen Chau, 26, was reportedly murdered by the Sentinelese.

The American Christian missionary aimed to convert the islanders to Christianity and paid local fishermen to transport him to the island and when they left without him on his final visit, they saw the islanders drag Chau's body and then saw his body on the shore the next day.

Chau recorded his experiences and said the islanders communicated with "lots of high pitched sounds" and gestures while anthropologist TM Pandit, who led an expedition to the island in 1967, warned people to stay away.

He told Down To Earth: “The tribespeople were on the beach, watching the boat come to the island.

“There was a large number of them. But there was no reaction or resentment from them. We went about a kilometre inside the forest.”

Few photographs exist of the island and anthropologists have evidence it’s been home to human life for at least 2,000 years.


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