Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Ancestral early warning systems saved Andaman janajaati: ASI

The five aboriginal tribes inhabiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, our last missing link with early civilisation, have emerged unscathed from the tsunamis because of their age old "warning systems".

"The tribals get wind of impending danger from biological warning signals like the cry of birds and change in the behavioural patterns of marine animals. They must have run to the forests for safety. No casualties have been reported among these five tribes," ASI Director Dr V R Rao told .

This has promted the Anthropological Survey of India (ASI) to propose its immediate documentation to save coastal populations from similar disasters in future.

His team in the badly-hit islands reported the well being of all five aborigines tribes -- Jarwas, Onges, Shompens, Sentenelese and Great Andamanese.

Early warning systems developed by their forefathers and adapted successfully by the tribals must have sent the first alarm signals and given them time to run for safety, he said.

These tribes could be traced down to the mesolithic and upper paleolithic era (from 20000 to 60000 years ago), he said. They had inherited a wealth of indigenous knowledge that had not yet been recorded.

"Anthropologists have been recording these aspects for long. But the question is to properly document them and find means to create a national resource base upon which a coastal signalling system can be operated.

"We have proposed to the Centre to take up immediate documentation of these systems and geomorphological changes triggered by the tsunami since these would be fresh in the memory of the tribals now," Rao said.



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