It may make you perspire to learn that there is one island on the planet that has not yet been colonised by contemporary society as many of us feel as though we have been transported back in time when there is no signal on the Queen’s Park to Paddington tube line.
The Sentinelese are an uncontacted hunter-gatherer community that have historically been notoriously hostile to outsiders. They live on the remote North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal.
In 2006, two fishermen were hacked apart with axes after getting too close to the island, and reports of aggressive encounters with the Sentinelese date back as far as 1867, when shipwrecked British explorers had to fend off attacks while awaiting rescue.
With 28 people on board, a ship capsized in the Bay of Bengal in 1981. After a few days, a watchman reported that a troop of people carrying bows, arrows, and spears came from the island’s jungle.
The freighter’s skipper, according to The Guardian, radioed the following information to his Hong Kong headquarters: “Wild men, estimate more than 50, carrying various improvised weapons, are constructing two or three wooden boats.
Concerned that they’ll board us at dusk. The lives of all crew members are not assured.
Fortunately for the passengers, strong winds and waves diverted the tribespeople’s boats and arrows.
In the 70s, a National Geographic director attempting to make a documentary about the Andamans archipelago was wounded by a spear during filming.
Then, in 2018, the Sentinelese killed 26-year-old John Allen Chau, an American who is thought to have paid fishermen to ferry him to the island.
The same year that Chau was killed, veteran anthropologist TM Pandit urged visitors to leave the Sentinelese alone and also opened up about his own experience with the tribe.
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.”
“They did not come to face us, instead they hid in the forest just watching us”
“After some time, we came upon a large area of forest cleared for a camp. There were 18 small huts, with little fires burning in front of each, fenced off with sticks.”
Few photographs exist of the island and anthropologists have evidence it’s been home to human life for at least 2,000 years.
Other studies suggest some of the island’s tribes – of which there are four, with the Sentinelese being the most isolated – are 30,000 years old.
Today, the island belongs to India and is around half the size of London. The Sentinelese are estimated to number 100 people.