Rare footage captures Sentinelese tribe who kill visitors

It is illegal to go within 5km of the island. Photo / Youtube / Lovebite Productions
It is illegal to go within 5km of the island. Photo / Youtube / Lovebite Productions

They may well be the last humans left on the planet who remain totally isolated from modern civilisation.

But rare footage has emerged of the indigenous Sentinelese tribe, on North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, which is so hostile to visitors that nearly every attempt to contact them in the past has been met with violence, accoridng to the Daily Mail.

Two fishermen were slaughtered by the Sentinelese in 2006 for drawing too close, and tribesmen have been known to fire arrows and fling rocks at low-flying planes or helicopters on reconnaissance missions.

In a collection of footage from a mini-documentary that has racked up close to two million views on YouTube, members of the tribe are seen gesturing in a clearly aggressive manner at cameramen who were hoping to interact with the tribe.

As explained by the narrator on the video, compiled by LoveBite Productions, the Sentinelese are thought to be direct descendants from the first humans who emerged from Africa, and have lived on the island for more than 60,000 years.

It's almost impossible to say how many of them remain on the landmass, which is about the size of Manhattan and is part of India's chain of Andaman Islands, but estimates have come in at anywhere between 40 and 500.

"It doesn't matter whether you are a friend or enemy, whether you arrived on purpose or by accident, the locals will greet you the same way: with spears and arrows," the narrator states.

"Gifts of food and clothing are of no importance to them."

Whether you arrived on purpose or by accident, the locals will greet you the same way with spears and arrows. Photo / Youtube / Lovebite Productions
Whether you arrived on purpose or by accident, the locals will greet you the same way with spears and arrows. Photo / Youtube / Lovebite Productions

Indeed, following the 2004 tsunami, which hit several regions of the Indian Ocean, helicopters from the Indian Coastguard were sent to help the Sentinelese and drop food parcels. One of the tribesmen responded by firing an arrow at the rescue team.

In 1967, the Indian government begun making attempts to contact the Sentinelese, led by anthropologist T.N. Pandit, who left the tribe gifts and tried to signal them.

"Sometimes they would turn their backs to us and sit on their haunches as if to defecate," Pandit remarked of his mission.

"This was meant to insult us as we were not welcome."

In March 1970, Pandit's group found themselves cornered in their boats after coming too close to shore. A witness from a different boat reported at the time: "They all began shouting some incomprehensible words. We shouted back and gestured to indicate that we wanted to be friends.

"The tension did not ease. At this moment, a strange thing happened - a woman paired off with a warrior and sat on the sand in a passionate embrace. This act was being repeated by other women, each claiming a warrior for herself, a sort of community mating, as it were. Thus did the militant group diminish."

According to the documentary's narrator, there has only been one instance in which outsiders did not face an aggressive reception.

On January 4, 1991, 28 men, women and children approached Pandit and his group without hostility before retreating into the forest in a gesture he called "incredible".

Indian authorities have since made it a crime to try to make contact with the Sentinelese.

It is illegal to go within 5km of the island.

But the waters surrounding the island appear to be under threat by illegal fishermen.

Survival International reported in 2014 that it had received reports that fishermen were targeting the area, and that seven men had been apprehended by the Indian Coastguard.

One of the fishermen reportedly stepped foot on the island in close proximity to the tribe's members, and he managed to leave unscathed.

The group, which advocates for tribal peoples' rights, describes the Sentinelese as "the most vulnerable society on the planet" as they are likely to have no immunity to common diseases such as flu and measles.

Due to their complete isolation, the chances of them being wiped out by an epidemic are very high, according to the organisation.

- Daily Mail

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