Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a group of about 300 islands in the Bay of Bengal off the East coast of India. Geographically,  it is closer to Myanmar than India. however, we in India are indeed fortunate to have this unique & extraordinarily beautiful group of islands as part of our territory.
Cultural, racial & ethnic diversity is apparent in terms of the many many indigenous tribes that populate the various islands. From the Jarawas who live in the reserve forest on South Andamans & whom I had the good fortune to catch a fleeting glance to the Onges, Sentinelese, Nicobarese & many more who are to be found inhabiting other islands, it is indeed a good study for an anthropologist. They are either of Mongoloid or Negroid origin which attests to the geologists theory that this  group of islands was part of the big continent called Gondwanaland that separated many millions of years back. It is interesting to note that for these tribes, "civilisation" as we call it has not touched them and they continue to be detached from the mainstream of the world, still adhering to their ancient way of living as forest dwellers. However, their population has dwindled to alarmingly low figures hovering around 100 for the Onges & about 400 for  the Jarawas! Strong efforts are required to ensure that these tribes do not go into the list of extinctions!!!

From the diversity of the human race,  it also boasts of magnificent bio-diversity in terms of its flora & fauna  & this is obvious when you see some of the wonderful virgin rainforests on one side of the road & the azure blue sea on the other. Many of the islands are uninhabited which is really a blessing. All in all the scenes have a real picture postcard beauty about them. 

My interest being mainly in the birdlife & especially the endemics (species found only in this region), I was thrilled to be able to join the BNHS camp; the bird-list for the islands is around 220 and the endemics are as many as 17. In addition, the sea has some beautiful marine life too. All in all it is a haven for both the hard-core naturalist as well as anyone with even a fleeting interest in the natural world.

Reaching the capital city of Port Blair is a fairly long  journey of 4 hrs by flight from Mumbai with a long long halt at Chennai for changing flights. But of-course the rigours are commensurate with the rewards. and what a better reward than to witness the deep blue sea as the flight readies to land at the small  Veer Savarkar International Airport.

As we drive through the charming town from the west to the south east end of Port Blair, it is already a precursor of the good days to come.  The resort, Ripple resort is fortunately a small but cosy and well maintained resort deep inside Corbyn's Cove. Corbyn's Cove is considered a good birding site in Port Blair. The resort is surrounded by marshes  making it an ideal place for naturalists to freak out with binoculars & cameras

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