It is harder to see wild tigers in the mist
Firstly, can I start by thanking you all for your continued amazing support for the wild tigers and our work since our October 2019 project report. I am delighted to say that because of your help our patrollers have manged to keep Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers safe for another 2 months. This brings us to 53 months without a wild tiger death due to retaliatory poisoning and 38 months since the last wild tiger poaching incident. It is not a time for complacency, because our success has helped Bandhavgarh’s tiger population to double in recent years. Unfortunately, this is music to the ears of poachers too. With more tigers, the incidence of human-tiger and tiger-tiger conflict also increases so over the next few months and years we will have more, not less work to do.
Those of you who follow us on social media may have seen recently that one of our senior anti-poaching patrollers, Vidya, had an accident recently. Vidya fell causing a complex brake of the bones in her right arm, she required surgery and had to make the 4.5 hour journey to the nearest hospital, in Jabalpur, which could operate. She was in agony all the way as many of the roads are still dusty bumpy tracks en-route. Vidya had two metal plates inserted in her arm to repair the brake and now is sporting a cast which covers three quarters of her arm. She spent a few nights in hospital before returning to Bandhavgarh where she was determined to re-join the patrolling after a few days recovery! Such is the commitment of our patrollers. Vidya returned to Jabalpur today to have her stitches removed, and we will be encouraging her to ensure that she is fully recovered before she resumes her patrolling duties when she returns to Bandhavgarh. I’m sure that like me, you all will wish Vidya a speedy and full recovery from her injuries.
We are now entering the coldest time of year in Bandhavgarh, which brings new challenges to our anti-poaching patrols with night time and early morning temperatures plummeting towards freezing, something which didn’t use to happen but has been apparent on the last 3 winters. Those of us who live in Northern Europe, North America and Canada will be all too familiar with the unpleasantness of freezing temperatures when we are out and about, so imagine how awful it must be to work outside in the cold for up to 12 hours a day every day. Not only are the mornings cold, but there is frequently an early morning mist which can be over 1 metre (3 – 4 feet) high and can result in increased dangers for our foot patrollers who may not get as early a warning call from the langur monkeys to signal an approaching tiger or leopard. The early morning mists make it a little easier for wild tigers to sneak up and ambush their prey but it also means that life is a lot more challenging for the anti-poaching patrollers who risk their lives to keep wild tigers safe.
The right equipment, including sturdy boots and warm coats, is essential at this time of year, and we think that £123 (US$160) is a good investment to fully equip our patrollers which the vital clothing, footwear, etc., which they need at this time of year. We need to be ready to provide suitable warm clothing for our patrollers or replace vital equipment when it is needed, so would ask you to consider making a donation this #GivingTuesday (03 December 2019) to help us to do this when it is most needed: https://goto.gg/34704 and there is good news in that any donations which we receive on the day to our Anti-Poaching Patrols project will qualify for a share of a matched funding bonus (on donations up to $1000). The matched funds bonus will be proportionally shared between all the projects receiving donations via GlobalGiving on that day which will be dependent upon the total funds raised. However, all donations (up to $1000) received will qualify for a share of the bonus and all bonus funds received will help us to reach our fundraising target quicker. There are also bonus prizes to be won for the projects with the most unique donors and most funds raised, but we need 20+ unique donors to qualify for one of these.
The colder weather also brings more miscreants into the jungle, mostly woodcutters who are desperate for firewood as the temperatures plunge in their homes. In Bandhavgarh, many villagers have simple homes without heating, electricity or running water, they are dependent on wood fires for heating and cooking and also to deter wild animals who may try to enter their homes. To address this need the villagers try to collect as much wood as possible to keep their fires burning. They are allowed to collect broken twigs and branches from fallen trees but not to cut down the branches or whole living trees nor to collect from protected areas of the buffer forest. The villagers are sometimes so desperate for firewood that they risk their own lives and those of their children by entering the forest at dusk, nightfall and dawn when tigers, leopards and other predators are most active. They also enter the restricted areas in the forest at these times.
Our anti-poaching patrollers are always on the lookout for woodcutters in the forest at this time of year especially. The villagers carry axes to cut down branches and trees but also to defend themselves in the event of an attack by a wild animal. When a villager is killed in the forest whilst woodcutting, etc., invariably fingers are pointed at the tiger and human unrest demands the incarceration of whichever tiger or tigers roam in the area or they threaten to take matters into their own hands, thus threatening the survival of one or more wild tigers. Although wild tigers are sometimes responsible for the killing of humans who stray into their forest home there are more villagers killed each year by wild boar, snake bites, sloth bears and leopards than tigers, and tigers rarely consume the flesh of the humans they have killed, unlike some of the other animal killers. Preventing the deaths of the humans who risk their lives collecting firewood is therefore just as important to keeping wild tigers safe as ensuring that any snares or traps are disabled and any poisoned carcasses are removed or burnt before tigers fall foul of these ill devices. Winter, is thus the second busiest period for tiger poaching or poisoning after the monsoon so our patrollers need to be extra vigilant despite the cold and challenging conditions.
As winter ebbs away towards the middle of February, our patrollers will once again face the challenges brought about by the onset of drought conditions and another increase in human-tiger conflict. There is never really a time of year when anti-poaching patrols are facing a challenge to keep wild tigers safe, so we are always grateful for their dedication and bravery. We can sleep a little better at night because we know that the men and women who make up the Tigers4Ever anti-poaching patrols are doing their utmost to keep wild tigers safe.
It isn’t just about removing traps and snares, it is equally important to inform the villagers about the consequences of their actions for both the wildlife and themselves. Many are unaware of these consequences, so our patrollers talk to them about other ways to protect themselves and their families, without inflicting harm on the forest or its inhabitants. It is, after all, these people who live with wild tigers who will have the greatest influence on the prospect of wild tigers having a wild future. We continue to maintain our community focus with all our wild tiger conservation efforts: by recruiting our anti-poaching patrollers (and other workers) from local villages, using local suppliers to make uniforms, equipment and the food which our patrollers eat whilst on duty, etc. This gives the villagers a dependency on wild tiger survival. Providing a uniform and full equipment for one patroller costs just £123 ($160) but provides employment for up to 20 people plus the patroller, which means that at least 21 people and their families need wild tigers to survive to ensure their future livelihoods. So, when we say that all donations, no matter how large or small, really can make a big difference to saving wild tigers you’ll appreciate why. We hope that with matched funding available on #GivingTuesday some of you will be able to help us give wild tigers a wild future: https://goto.gg/34704.
Some of you may be looking for a Christmas gift for that someone special who loves wild tigers, if you are, please take a look at our online shop where we have a range of clothing in adult and children’s sizes: https://stores.clothes2order.com/tigers4ever-saving-tigers/. None of our products are made in China/sourced from materials made in China; and all sales help our anti-poaching patrols to keep wild tigers safe.
Finally we would like to wish all our supporters in the USA a happy Thanksgiving for this Thursday; and to thank you for sparing the time to read this newsletter and for your continued amazing support and donations. We would like to wish all those who celebrate it a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year. It is always difficult to ask, especially at this time of year, however, wild tigers’ lives are at risk 24 hours a day 365 days a year so it is essential that our patrollers are there to keep them safe. If you can afford to help, please donate now at: https://goto.gg/34704 and help us to continue to give wild tigers a wild future, every little really does make a big difference. Remember on #GivingTuesday your donations will have an extra impact due to bonus matched funds from GlobalGiving too.
Tiger at the waterhole