Livelihood and Revenue: Role of rattans among Mongoloid tribes and settlers of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

U. Senthilkumar, K. C. Ritesh, M. Sanjappa, D. Narasimhan, R. Uma Shaanker, G. Ravikanth


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Andaman Sea between peninsular India and Indo-Malaya, are part of two of the 34 mega-diversity hotspots of the world. These islands are characterized by their unique vegetation types such as littoral, mangroves, wet and semi-evergreen forests, and rainforests and for being the home for six aboriginal tribes of Negrito and Mongoloid descent. The islands are also home to a number of migrants and “settlers” from the Indian mainland and Myanmar. The aboriginal tribes and the settlers have a long history of association with the island’s bioresources. In this paper, we survey the ethnic uses of rattans, the unique climbing palms, about 63% of which are endemic to these islands. Our ethnobotanical survey revealed several uses of rattans by the Nicobarese and Shompens, the two major ethnic communities of the Nicobar Islands. In this study, besides the ethnic uses, we also estimated the revenue generated among those involved in the rattan trade (collectors, processors, and exporters).

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