India // The Andaman Islands //

Interview Island

Mayabunder is the jumping-off place for Interview Island, a windswept nature sanctuary off the remote northwest coast of Middle Andaman – if you’ve come to the Andamans to watch wildlife, it should be top of your list. Large and mainly flat, it is completely uninhabited save for a handful of unfortunate forest wardens, coastguards and policemen, posted here to ward off poachers. Foreigners aren’t permitted to spend the night on the island, and to do a day-trip you must first obtain a permit from the Forest Museum in Mayabunder. The only way to reach Interview is to charter a private fishing dinghy from Mayabunder jetty. Arrange one the day before and leave at first light. Ask your boatman to moor by the beach at the southern tip of the island, which has a perennial freshwater pool inside a low cave; legend has it that the well, a nesting site for white-bellied swifts, has no bottom. At the forest post, where you have to sign an entry ledger, ask the wardens about the movements of Interview’s feral elephants, descendants of trained elephants deserted here by a Kolkata-based logging company after its timber operation failed in the 1950s. Saltwater crocodiles are found on the island’s eastern coastline.

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