Mar 3, 2021

Hotter Drier Weather Ahead

Tigress & Young Cubs
Tigress & Young Cubs

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

I can’t remember when I last wrote a project newsletter which wasn’t driven by the impacts of COVID19, but we are in unprecedented times on a global scale and wild tigers in India are impacted by the consequences too. Since March 2020, human encroachment and human-animal conflict have been at their highest levels for some six years. I have to say that it is a relief these days when we can go a week without receiving news of someone being mauled or a tiger or leopard having been killed in a territorial battle. Tiger-Tiger and Tiger-Leopard conflict is another consequence of shrinking habitat due in part to historical logging and population growth but worsened in the last 12 months by the increase in human encroachment in the forest.

In the last month we learnt of two big cat deaths in the Panpatha buffer forest of Bandhavgarh, heart-breaking because this happened in successive days. First we learnt that a leopard had been killed by a tiger, then the following day a 3 year old female tiger was discovered dead less than a mile away. The tigress also died from the wounds inflicted in a territorial fight. What people don’t always realise is the frequency of these tiger-tiger territorial fights is increasing because of human disturbance in the forest. Every time people take their livestock to forest, or go to collect wood, tendu leaves, mahua flowers, fruit or honey to sell they disturb the native inhabitants of the forest. Deer and other prey animals move away from the human encroachment leaving predators with less to eat, so tigers and leopards move into neighbouring territories in search of food. Under normal circumstances these big cats would avoid each other but hunger motivates them to take increased risks like taking livestock and facing retaliatory poisonings or taking down prey in the territory of another tiger and risking loss of life if caught.

Our anti-poaching patrols are working hard to eliminate the risks caused by increased human encroachment levels; but without your continued support we won’t be able to sustain our doubled patrols indefinitely. The rumours of increased in poaching activity in the neighbouring states persists and we have seen evidence of this with increased arrests of individuals caught with a bounty of tiger skins, leopard skins and other tiger body parts. As the hotter, drier weather approaches and waterholes run dry, the likelihood of human-animal conflict inevitably increases too. In fact two of our waterholes are currently dry because wild elephants have damaged the solar panels which power the bore-well pumps which bring water to the surface. We have been actively fundraising for the last few weeks to buy 4 replacement solar panels, repair the panel framework and erect elephant proof fencing to reduce the risk of recurrence: https://goto.gg/51049 . At the time of writing, we are just £101 (US$140) short of our target to complete this work, so hopefully we will be able to restore the water for the 16 tigers and countless other animals dependent on these waterholes soon.

It isn’t all bad news though; two tigresses have given birth to 4 cubs each since our last project report, a third tigress has 3 new cubs and a fourth has an unspecified number of cubs as their mother hasn’t brought them out of the birthing den yet. We do know that we have at least eleven more tigers to keep safe now in addition to all the others. The patter of tiny paws always gives us an extra incentive to go the extra mile needed to keep wild tigers safe, what about you? https://goto.gg/34704.

The last four months have been just as testing for the people in the villages around Bandhavgarh due to the economic consequences of COVID19, as they continue to put their own lives at risk by going deeper into the forest in search of something to eat or sell. As a consequence, the death and injury toll 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
  • A leopard and a 3 year old tigress were killed in territorial fights on consecutive days in the Panpatha buffer.
  • The drought season is underway, and the hotter drier weather will bring an increase in the number of people picking tendu leaves and mahua flowers inside the forest.

The only way we can address these issues is to keep our patrolling doubled until at least the end of May 2021, when hopefully the COVID vaccination rollout will help to alleviate the economic burden of COVID19, and the villagers’ children will be able to return to school for the first time since March 2020.

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.

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 ($28) will help us to pay a patrolling team for a day
  • A gift of £30 ($42) will provide hot nutritious meals whilst they are on duty for a day
  • A gift of £40 ($56) 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 ($140) will ensure that a team of patrollers can cover 125km (78 miles) of wild tiger territory in a day
  • A gift of £500 ($700) 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/34704. Next week (08 March – 12 March 2021) is the GlobalGiving Little by Little campaign and we’re taking part, which is good news because your gift up to £36 (US$50) will receive 50% bonus matched funds at no extra cost to you. So if you are able to help during Little by Little your impact will be even greater too.

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.

Little by Little Tiger Cubs
Little by Little Tiger Cubs

Links:

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:

 
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