Feb 16, 2021

We Gave Them Hope

Children of Bandhavgarh with our Education Packs
Children of Bandhavgarh with our Education Packs

Over the last year we’ve faced some of the biggest challenges of our lives. No matter where we live or work we’ve all felt the impact of COVID19, some more than others admittedly, but the pandemic nature of this disease has truly had global impacts beyond what we could have imagined a few years ago. Throughout this time, we have been amazed and truly grateful for your help, we definitely couldn’t have kept wild tigers safe without your help. Now, as the vaccination programme continues, families all over the world hope for some kind of normality to return. We have no real idea what the new normal will be, and in some cases, no idea when this may begin, but we all cling onto the hope that there will be a safe, healthy new normal soon.

Those of you who have young children will no doubt appreciate the challenges of home schooling coupled with home working whilst fighting for space have brought, but in rural India many people have faced even bigger challenges with no work and the schools closed since 25 March 2020. For thousands of young children, this has meant no schooling at all; these children don’t have access to either a computer or mobile phone so remote learning is not an option for them. These are the children which Tigers4Ever usually tries to help. When we give these children books and basic writing materials we give them hope, we give them a chance to go to school which otherwise they may not have. We want to tell you Sonali’s story, as an example of how COVID19 has impacted her dreams. Sonali is just an ordinary young girl living in one of the villages around Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, where many families don’t have electricity, computers or mobile phones. Her story could be the story of thousands of young children living with wild tigers and facing an uncertain future after missing a year of learning.

Sonali, is 12 years old now, before the COVID19 pandemic she attended the state school in a neighbouring village five miles from her home. Each day she would walk along the forest trails where wild animals including tigers and leopards roam, just to follow her dream of a different life. When she got her first education pack from Tigers4Ever, she had never been to school. Sonali’s parents are farmers with a small holding, but often lose up to 65% of their crops to deer, monkeys and other wild animals with a voracious appetite for the new shoots of grain crops and the seasonal fruit and vegetables grown. Recently, wild elephants destroyed 50% of their rice crops too, thus there is little hope of buying the school books and writing materials which Sonali and her siblings desperately need. Sonali really enjoyed going to school, she had learnt to count, to read and to write; she had started to dream. Like most young girls of her age, she changed her mind about what she wanted to do when she is older, but teacher, nurse and wildlife ranger were amongst her favourite ideas. To have any hope of doing any of these jobs, Sonali will need to complete her education; she already lost the first three years of schooling because her parents couldn’t afford to send her to school, now COVID19 has robbed Sonali of another year.

If children like Sonali, can’t return to school when they reopen (hopefully) in April 2021, it is likely that they will never return. We could then face a lost generation of young people who could have been future protectors of wild tigers but will be more likely to threaten the future existence of tigers in the wild due to the need for more space for crops to feed bigger families and more destruction of the vulnerable ecosystem which is the tigers’ forest home

Sonali’s parents don’t want a life of poverty and struggles for the daughter and her five siblings; they simply can’t find the funds to send their children to school. Each day starts at 5 a.m. for Sonali and her siblings right now, if there is enough food in the house they may have breakfast before going into the fields to remove the weeds which threaten the growth of the wheat crop, and to harvest some vegetables to eat and sell. Sonali is big enough now to carry the water urn so at 7 a.m. she walks to the river with her mother and sister to get the water they need for the day. Sonali will have to carry 5 litres (just over a gallon) of water for a mile every day or the family will go short. Sonali is learning to cook on the open fire outside her home, so she must also go into the forest to collect wood to burn so she can learn this life skill too. When Sonali is 14, her parents will try to get a dowry together so that Sonali can get married and have a family of her own. As Sonali plants seeds in the field for the next vegetable crop, she wonders if she will ever see her friends in the school again, let alone fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher, nurse or wildlife ranger. Night falls, and Sonali goes to sleep on the single bed which she shares with three of her siblings, tomorrow is another day and she needs to help her father build a new fence around the vegetable patch to try to stop the monkeys taking them all.

We want to help families like Sonali’s to ensure that the poorest children get a chance to complete their education too. So when this COVID19 nightmare ends we’ll be looking to fund scholarships at a new school in Bandhavgarh too, in the meantime, we’d still like to provide education packs for when the schools reopen too. If you’d like to be continually involved in supporting the education of rural children in Bandhavgarh like Sonali, you can start a monthly recurring donation from just £5 per month, which will make a huge difference in offering future education for them. The link to start a recurring donation is:  https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/education-saves-tigers/?show=recurring

Imagine the Difference

The sense of despair and uncertainty which has been brought about by COVID19 has to end sometime, hopefully soon. So it would be truly amazing if out of this despair we were able to give at least 100 children, like Sonali, a chance to return to school and learn the skills which they will need if they are to become tiger protectors, teachers, nurses or doctors in the future? You can make that happen too with a donation of £25 (US$34) we can send 5 children to schoolhttps://goto.gg/32565.

Remember: when we provide education packs and scholarships for children living with wild tigers we are reducing the risk of future tiger habitat destruction AND ensuring that these children have the opportunity to become future tiger protectors.

I would like to thank you for your generosity and support on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the children who we have previously helped to get an education (and their families who will have food because of this help); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing books and writing equipment for inclusion in the education packs which we distribute. Stay Safe in these challenging times.

Links:

Feb 3, 2021

Testing Times & New Tiger Cubs

Tigress with 4 Small Cubs
Tigress with 4 Small Cubs

Your amazing support over the last three months has helped us to resume double patrolling when it was most needed; we asked for your help to keep our patrols doubled until the end of December 2020 and your support has meant that we have kept this going throughout January 2021 too. Thank you on behalf of the wild tigers which your support is helping us to keep safe.

Globally, we are in unprecedented times, the same applies for the wild tigers in India too where human encroachment and human-animal conflict are still at very high levels. Only two weeks ago we received news of a young girl mauled and killed by a wild tiger whilst in the forest in the twilight hours and a tiger which fell into an open well in a village whilst chasing a chital (spotted deer). The latter resulted in a night long rescue operation, at the end of which the young tigress was safely released back into the forest, which was a tremendous relief. Congratulations to all those involved in the rescue operation, a job well done. It does, however, raise the question about making more of these open wells safer to reduce the likelihood of future incidents like this. We have already spoken to another charity with experience in this area, and they are looking into ways in which they can help by erecting walls around the wells or providing some kind of mesh covering to cover the opening.

Our anti-poaching patrols are working flat out to mitigate the risks caused by increased human encroachment levels and the rumours of an increase in poaching activity in the neighbouring states and even in the last week in Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh) where a young tigress was killed by a wire snare intended to poach wild boar and deer for their meat. The people from the villages around Bandhavgarh are still suffering from the economic consequences of COVID19 and continue to put their own lives at risk by going deeper and deeper into the forest in search of something to eat or sell, the death and injury toll over the last few months continues the unprecedented trend we reported in our last project report:

  • A school building and several farm buildings have been destroyed by marauding elephants;
  • A single village lost 12 cows in a week due to attacks by displaced tigers and another village lost 3 cows in 5 days to attacks by a single tiger.
  • Two elephants from the Bandhavgarh herd had wandered many miles away towards Jabalpur but were killed by tethered snares laid by villagers disgruntled by the damage they had done to their sugar cane crops.
  • A mahout of over 20 years’ service in the forest department took his own life just before Christmas because he couldn’t afford to feed his family.
  • A 15 year old girl was mauled and killed by a tiger in the Panpatha buffer on 20 December and the angry villagers subsequently mounted an attack of Forest Department patrollers in retaliation on both 22 and 23 December, demanding that something must be done to remove the tiger.
  • One of our own anti-poaching patrollers was charged by a tigress (who was protecting her 3 cubs) as he returned home from his patrolling duties on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, he remembered his training and attributed it to saving his life. The tigress and her cubs also returned to the forest unharmed.
  • Nine people from the villages in the buffer zones were mauled by tigers in separate incidents between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Mostly the victims were wood collectors/cutters but two of them were picking amla fruit. Six different tigers have been implicated in the attacks.
  • 15 cows from 3 villages have been killed already in 2021 so unrest in the villages is still high.

The only way we can address these issues is to keep our patrolling at monsoon levels (double patrolling) until at least the end of April 2021, when hopefully the COVID vaccination rollout will help to alleviate the economic burden of COVID19, and hopefully the children of the villages will be able to return to school for the first time in over a year.

With increased patrols, we can cover an extra 500km (312 miles) of wild tiger territory over and above what we were able to do in October when tragedy struck for a tigress and her cubs. The increase also means more time will be spent looking for snares; traps and signs of would be poisoners around forest areas where human encroachment is rife. Increased patrols also help to curb the dangerous encroachment into the territories of wild tigers which is still increasing, and to provide safety advice for those trying to protect their crops and livestock from wandering elephants and tigers respectively.

It isn’t all bad news though, this week we received news that one tigress has 4 new cubs of 4 to 5 weeks old, a second tigress has 3 cubs of around 2 months old and a third tigress has recently given birth but nobody has seen the cubs yet because it is too soon for her to let them leave the protection of the birthing den. We do know that we have at least eight more tigers to keep safe now in addition to all the others.

The only way we can sustain this increase in our patrolling is to ask for your help, again, knowing that your gift today can make a huge difference as to whether Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers can survive these unprecedented threats:

  • A gift of £20 ($26) will help us to pay a patrolling team for a day
  • A gift of £30 ($39) will provide hot nutritious meals whilst they are on duty for a day
  • A gift of £40 ($52) will ensure that we can transport a team of anti-poaching patrollers to a remote location for a day’s patrolling
  • A gift of £100 ($130) will ensure that a team of patrollers can cover 125km (78 miles) of wild tiger territory in a day
  • A gift of £500 ($650) will ensure that we can increase of patrolling levels to the highest level for one month.

If we don’t act now, we are sure that the lives of more tigers and more humans will be lost, and with every loss of human life comes another threat to the tiger’s survival in the wild, thus we must protect both if we are to ensure that wild tigers will have a wild future.

Every single donation received will help us to save wild tigers’ lives, no matter how large or small. The current crisis means that we need your help like never before: https://goto.gg/28767.

Please don’t hesitate if you can help, your donation can be the difference between life and death for a wild tiger, as it helps to increase our patrolling when it is most needed. Every tiger and every tiger cub counts. Thank you for making our fight against poachers, the changing climate and human-animal conflict possible.

Links:

Dec 17, 2020

Water Challenges

Tigress & young Cubs at A Tigers4Ever Waterhole
Tigress & young Cubs at A Tigers4Ever Waterhole

When we wrote our last report in September we’d hoped that things would have changed significantly in respect of COVID19 by Christmas, but sadly it looks like the threats which have blighted 2020 are here to stay for the foreseeable future anyway. Like the rest of the world we’ve spent most of the year adapting to the biggest challenges thrown our way by the ever advancing impacts of COVID19. We should be getting used to it; given that we’ve had nine months to adapt but as the months have progressed we’ve seen a huge surge in human-animal conflict, unprecedented levels of encroachment into wild tiger territory and sadly in October a return of retaliatory poisonings which cost three wild tigers their lives. I think it is fair to say that 2020 has presented some of the biggest challenges that most of us will face in our lifetimes and it’s not over yet, in just a few weeks the temperatures in India will start to rise dramatically and natural water sources will begin to run dry.

We haven’t made the progress we would have liked to since our last project newsletter due in part to the economic impact of COVID19 and also partly due to continued restrictions at the ground level in India. We await the geologists’ report regarding the dispersal patterns of surface water from the monsoon rains to establish how much flood water has been lost to run away and whether we can incorporate mechanisms into future waterhole designs so that some of the lost water can be recycled to improve underground water sources, but to ensure that we have a balanced understanding a period of dry weather which dramatically impacts surface water sources we must wait a while longer for the output from this study. For now we must focus our attention on fundraising so that we can deliver the next permanent wildlife waterhole as soon as possible but preferably before the onset of the drought season in February.

For the last nine months our fundraising efforts have been almost exclusively focused on our anti-poaching patrols project, because of the increased risks to wild tigers brought about by the economic impact of COVID19. During this time we have faced new challenges from increased human-animal conflict and the impact of unprecedented levels of encroachment on wild tiger habitat. We have also seen a relatively new challenge brought about by the wild elephants which have now made Bandhavgarh their home. The wider tiger community around Bandhavgarh national park hasn’t had to deal with the impact of marauding elephants until the last few years, now farmers are losing their entire crops and in some cases their lives as the elephants demolish paddy fields (rice crops) and wheat fields by a combination of movement and feeding. The farmers were already at breaking point due to the financial impacts of COVID19, and now with insufficient compensation available to cover their losses they are desperate for solutions to feed themselves and their families. We know that this will but even more pressure on the tigers and their forest home so we are keeping our Anti-Poaching Patrols doubled for as long as we have sufficient funds to cover this.

We can’t just hope that these threats will go away overnight; we must be proactive at putting in place measures to reduce the ongoing and future threat of increased human-animal conflict. The villagers can’t afford to lose any more food crops to marauding wildlife so we need to find ways of keeping the wild animals in the forest as the natural water sources dry up. We also need to address the issues of encroachment before the onset of the drought season as there will undoubtedly be more people in the forest as the Tendu and Mahua picking seasons begin. So we need to do whatever we can to make our next permanent wildlife waterhole a reality before it is too late, even if this means putting a solar powered borehole pump system in place at the site of an existing water source to prevent it from running dry. In an ideal world we would commence such work by February 2021 at the latest, but we need your help to make this happen.

Your support throughout 2020 has been amazing, you helped us to provide 4 drinking water tanks patrollers in remote locations around the forest have safe access to clean drinking water, you helped us to keep our anti-poaching patrols going in the face of adversity and have continued to contribute towards our next permanent wildlife waterhole, which, given the challenges that everyone is facing right now, is amazing too. Whilst our focus has been on keeping wild tigers out of poachers’ snares and traps during the extended peak poaching season of the last nine months, and which isn’t over yet, we haven’t forgotten our promise to build the next permanent wildlife waterhole, nor the tigers which it will benefit. Thus we must prepare for the day when the ban on moving the necessary equipment into position is lifted and ensure that our waterhole project is sufficiently funded to get these plans back on track.

As outlined in our last report we’ve almost covered the cost of drilling a new bore-well for the pump, lining pipes for the well and labour costs, and if we can raise another £500 (US$665) in the next month we hope to be able to work with a potential corporate partner to build the next permanent wildlife waterhole in February/early March (delayed from October/early November due to logistics and a lack of funding), subject of course to any continued COVID19 restrictions which may impact our timetable. Nonetheless we’d like to be in a position to commence work in February if it is logistically possible.  

We don’t want COVID19 to destroy the progress we have made in wild tiger conservation over the last 10 years and we want to ensure that our efforts to give wild tigers a wild future can keep gaining momentum. In spite of the challenges we have all faced over the last nine months, your collective spirit and generosity has been truly inspiring. Your donations and continued support over this time has strengthened our hope that when we pull through this pandemic, wild tigers will still thrive in the jungles of Bandhavgarh, and we will be able to carry on giving them a wild future. So on behalf of those tigers, we’d like to thank you for not forgetting that without your help we wouldn’t be able to keep them safe.

It is already December and 2021 is just around the corner, as we reflect on the events of the last 3 months we know that they were not all good.

The Risks to wild Tigers escalated as the COVID19 Restrictions continued:

  • Human-Animal conflict has increased with tiger attacks on humans being almost a weekly or more frequent event, right now. Coupled with a farmer being killed by marauding wild elephants as he tried to save his crops;
  • Villagers poisoned a wild tigress and two of her cubs in a retaliatory attack due to persistent livestock killings;
  • Wild elephants have decimated many paddy fields ruining the rice crops of multiple villagers which will leave them with both food and income shortages in the coming months;
  • Human encroachment continues to increase to unprecedented levels as precious forest resources are plundered to keep food on the table for families who haven’t had paid employment since 25 March 2020; and
  • Wild tigers are susceptible to COVID19 infection transmitted by humans.

But it’s not all bad news for wild tigers

On a positive note, there have been some successes too:

  • We managed to raise £612 (US$803) towards our next waterhole construction, due to fantastic support from you all, which means that we’ve raised £4894 (US$6558) of our £11139 (US$14926) target to date;
  • We haven’t lost any wild tigers to poachers (for 50 months) or retaliatory poisonings (for 2 months) as we have implemented double patrolling for as long as we have funding to keep this going;
  • There are five more tiger cubs which need to be protected since our last report;
  • The safe drinking water tanks provided at 4 remote patrolling camps are working well so patrollers no longer have to fill their drinking water bottles at the same waterholes used by tigers and other wildlife;
  • We still plan to put the next permanent waterhole for wild tigers in a critical dry location as soon as we have sufficient funds and the Indian COVID19 restrictions are lifted;
  • Our patrols are essential workers and continue to protect wild tigers.

How you can help                   

We don’t know for certain how long this crisis will last, but what we do know is that we need to quadruple our efforts to keep wild tigers safe. It is normal to double our efforts throughout the peak poaching season, but we could be facing another four to six months of the same difficult conditions we’ve already set out in this project report. So the best way to help us keep wild tigers safe is to fund our projects today, because tomorrow might be too late.

Remember all new monthly donations set up during 2020 with qualify for a 100% GlobalGiving (200% match between 14 -18 December 2020 only) bonus match on month four: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/?show=recurring.

Here are some of the ways your donations help us to save wild tigers:

- £10 ($13) per month will help to drill 12 metres (39 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

- £20 ($26) will help to drill 2 metres (6.5 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

- £75 ($95) can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;

- £380 ($475) will fund 6% of a solar system to bring underground water to the surface.

Every donation, no matter how large or small, helps us increase and protect the tiger population. Thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which you are helping us to keep safe; and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing equipment and labour for our waterhole projects; we couldn’t do this without you. Thanks to you, the tigers can live peacefully and those who live beside them can protect their livelihoods.

Any and all donations are welcome https://goto.gg/34315.

If you can’t afford to donate perhaps you could become a become a Tigers4Ever fundraiser, here: https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=34315 and ask your friends, colleagues and family to donate to your fundraiser to help us keep wild tigers safe.

Villager collecting Tendu leaves in Tiger Forest
Villager collecting Tendu leaves in Tiger Forest

Links:

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.