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May 10, 2019

A New School Year - the Next Challenge

Tiger Relaxing in the Forest
Tiger Relaxing in the Forest

In February, we feared that we wouldn’t raise sufficient funds to provide any more than 35 education packs for the poorest children living with wild tigers. Well, it has been a real challenge but thanks to your kind donations we will be able to provide more than double that number, which means that at least 100 of the poorest children living with wild tigers will have the chance to go to school when the new school year starts at the beginning of July. Thank you for helping us to do this, your invaluable support means the world to us.

We have ordered the ecology books for the education packs for the older children today; this will give them the opportunity to see the value of the forest and its wild inhabitants, whilst appreciating the fact that every single action in the forest by them and their families has a consequence. We hope that receiving these education packs and ecology books helps the children to become future protectors of the forest and the wild tigers which inhabit it, rather than destroyers of the forest landscape to make space for agriculture and industry.

Sadly, we haven’t raised enough yet to be able to provide education packs for our collaboration with GTCS who run the “pop-up” schools in the poorest rural communities without access to a school for the hundreds of children growing up there. These education packs are a vital component of this project because the basic writing materials are used over and over by many children attending the “pop-up schools” so that the largest number of children possible can benefit. If we can donate just 50 education packs for our collaboration with GTCS then as many as 250 children could benefit from learning about nature and ecology plus gain basic reading and writing skills at these “pop-up” schools. If we could raise another £160 (US$215) by 17 May 2019 we would be able to help these children to give learning opportunities where they don’t exist for another year. So could we ask you to forego a coffee or a cake from your favourite coffee store this week and donate what you would have spent here instead: https://goto.gg/32565? We know that knowing that you have made a real difference will make you feel great too.

If you are planning to get fit for that summer vacation on the beach by doing a fun run, cycle event or something wacky, why not chose to do it as a sponsored event? You could have fun, achieve your goals and help us to achieve ours too by ensuring that we can educate the next generation of wild tiger protectors. It only takes a minute to become a Tigers4Ever fundraiser and you even get your own personal page link to share with your friends and colleagues on social media, etc.  Act now before it is too late for wild tigers by setting up your fundraiser page here: https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=32565.

We are now selecting one of the small villages around Bandhavgarh which has suffered due to human-animal conflict recently; where we will distribute education packs to at least 100 of the poorest children. It will be a difficult decision because many villages lose crops (and their livelihoods) to persistent crop raids by the herbivores and monkeys, in addition to loos of livestock due to predator (tigers, leopards, wild dogs, etc.) attacks. We will need to use a weighted scale to assess which village has suffered the greatest impact as we are unable to help more than one village this time. Past experience shows that the villages most affected by persistent human-animal conflict are those most likely to leave out baited (poisoned) meat for predators or set a series of wire traps to halt invading animals in their tracks. By helping these villages we hope to mitigate the potential for such retaliatory attacks. We will use the information which we receive form our Anti-Poaching Patrols in this respect as they monitor these potential high risk situations for wild tigers. We know that by providing assistance in affected villages helps the inhabitants to love tigers and other wildlife again, which also reduces the risk of retaliatory action. This year, we will also need to choose our village carefully as distributing education packs to only some children rather than all in a village may have the undesired consequence of inflaming the human-animal conflict situation with the aggrieved parents who can see no benefits of wild tigers as their children have missed out.

As we have mentioned previously, the impact of this project goes well beyond enabling a number of children to attend school, who may not otherwise have chance. It has an impact on the wider tiger community around Bandhavgarh too, as we source all the contents for inclusion in the Tigers4Ever education packs from local suppliers, and create employment for those who wrap the education packs and deliver them to our Indian representatives for distribution.

Unseasonable weather conditions have continued to make life difficult for everyone living in and around Bandhavgarh, including the tigers and other wildlife, in the last three months. This has led to food scarcity for both humans and wildlife, which has in turn, increased the likelihood of human-animal conflict as both are competing for the same scarce resources. Low crop yields have left uneducated villagers with little money for food and few employment prospects, so they have turned to picking tendu leaves (for Indian tobacco) and mahua flowers (for the manufacture of local alcohol), and harvesting honeycombs from within the tiger forest. The income from such high risk activities is a mere pittance whilst the risk of a tiger or other predator encounter is very high. Villagers earn just Rs.125 (around £1.50/$1.75) for the collection of each 5000 tendu leaves. As previously reported, this puts extreme financial pressures on the poor rural people, so when faced with the prospect of buying basic materials for their children to go to school or feeding the family, the latter always wins, of course.

We still hope to provide education packs for 220 children in the villages around Bandhavgarh in time for the start of the new school year in July 2019, but we can only do this if we can raise sufficient funds, a further £986 (US$1321) is still needed for this. Just £10/$13 will help us to provide education packs for 3 of the youngest group of children living with wild tigers. If you would like to make a new one-off donation please visit https://goto.gg/32565 where you can seemany examples of how your donation will help. If you are thinking of helping on a regular basis, matched funds are available from GlobalGiving partners for your donation if you donate for at least 4 months, e.g. a donation of £10 (US$13) per month would be worth £50 (US$65) to Tigers4Ever at month 4, including the bonus matched funds. If you are a taxpayer, living in the UK, you can make an even greater impact by adding Gift Aid to your donation (at no extra cost to you), which would mean with matched funds your £10 monthly donation could be worth £60 to Tigers4Ever after just 4 months (including bonus matched funds and Gift Aid); which would enable your donation to have 50% greater impact for wild tigers!Education is a vital component of saving wild tigers because humans have the greatest influence on the future survival of tigers in the wild. We know that educated families have fewer children.

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 helped to get an education (and their families who have food on their tables); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing books and writing equipment for the education packs we distribute.

Tiger picking up a strange scent on the tree
Tiger picking up a strange scent on the tree

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Apr 16, 2019

Tiger Encounters

Young tiger who had entered a house to get food
Young tiger who had entered a house to get food

Firstly we would like to wish those of our supporters who will be celebrating Passover and Easter a happy and peaceful time. It is hard to believe that we’re already into April, where has 2019 gone so far? It has been a busy first quarter of the year with a great deal happening both in India and the UK in respect of wild tiger conservation, with the building of another Tigers4Ever waterhole which brings the number of tigers with permanent year-round water, funded by Tigers4Ever, in Bandhavgarh to 32.

Next we would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported our Anti-Poaching Patrols projects (our first project: https://goto.gg/28767 and this (2019) project https://goto.gg/34704) over the last 16 months. Your tremendous support has enabled us to keep Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers safe from poachers’ snares and traps for 562 days. Not only that, we are delighted to say that our record of working with the communities around Bandhavgarh, who have lost livestock and relatives in tiger attacks, has meant that it has been 1416 days since the last wild tiger died due to a retaliatory poisoning. We couldn’t do this without your valuable support in raising awareness and kind donations.

It is sometimes easy to delight at the significant increase in adult tiger numbers since we started our buffer zone patrolling (the first of its kind in the whole of India), to almost double the number when we first started work in Bandhavgarh; but we must be aware that all of these tigers need space and prey if they are to continue to thrive at their current rate. Tiger-tiger conflict has become more apparent in the last 3 years and it is no longer limited to conflict between males who are vying for the title of “Alpha Male”, but it is also between females who are desperate for enough territory to provide sufficient prey for their offspring. Only last year, the Rajbehra female, star of the BBC documentary “Dynasties” was fatally wounded in a territorial fight with her own daughter, Solo.

Inevitably, tigers are being pushed to the very periphery of their pristine forest habitat and into areas of human habitation, with this there is an increase in incidence of human-tiger conflict. Only a few weeks ago, our patrollers were alerted to such a situation whilst checking around the periphery of a village for snares and traps, they learnt that a tiger had killed a cow and entered a villager’s house. Clearly, this was a very dangerous situation for both the villagers and the tiger. Our patrollers went to investigate the situation further and came face to face with the guilty tiger as she lay in the grass a few metres from the house digesting her meal. In such situations, there is always an increased risk of a retaliatory response against the tiger by the aggrieved villagers. Our patrollers needed to act quickly to diffuse the tension and ensure that the tigress could return to the forest safely. Thankfully, the situation was resolved without harm to the young tigress, our patrollers or any of the villagers, but it is a reminder to us that our patrollers constantly risk their lives to keep wild tigers safe. We are grateful for the sterling efforts and bravery of the men and women who make up the Tigers4Ever Anti-poaching Patrols.

Now we must prepare for the onset of the monsoon season, which is also peak poaching season so we would like to double our patrols to address the increased threat to the wild tigers. At present, we cannot do this, as fundraising is behind target, but if we can raise £2500 over the next 6 – 8 weeks, we will hopefully be in a position to increase our patrols when the tigers need the most protection. If you are able to help in any way, please donate at: https://goto.gg/34704, if you can help on a regularly monthly basis GlobalGiving are currently offering 100% matched funding on new monthly donations at month 4, so if you sign up to donate £10 or $10 monthly by month four your donation will be worth £50 or $50 instead of £40 or $40. Please consider adding Gift Aid to your donation if you are a UK taxpayer, every little really does make a big difference in saving wild tigers, thank you.

We know that this is an expensive time for everyone and appreciate that you may not have much to spare right now, but if we can get 125 of our supporters to donate just £20 (US$26) each over the next few weeks, we will be able to double our patrols protecting wild tigers during the peak poaching season. If you can help us to give these precious wild tigers a safer wild future, even the smallest donation can make a huge difference. All donations, however large or small, will help to keep wild tigers from perishing at the hands of humans.

I would like to thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table). I would also like to thank you on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Vidya, Prahlad and our Anti-Poaching patrolling team.

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Mar 26, 2019

Bigger & Better Waterhole for Wild Tigers

Tigers like this survive because of our waterhole
Tigers like this survive because of our waterhole

So much has happened in the last three months since our last report on this waterhole project that it is difficult to know where to start. Sadly we haven’t received any new donations this year so we have been working entirely from funds raised in 2018, a little like the weather in Bandhavgarh where the dry season is underway, the donations pot has also run dry so future projects are on hold for now. That’s the bad news out of the way, so now for the good news especially for the wild tigers and their cubs….

The solar powered borehole pump which we installed in the Tala zone of Bandhavgarh National park is working so well that it has capacity to fill two waterholes simultaneously. With that in mind, we revised our plan to construct a dry-lined core at the centre of the existing waterhole in favour of building a new large waterhole (50 metres x 30 metres x 2.5 metres deep) on the opposite side of the wall from the existing waterhole which continues to be services by the same solar powered system. This gives a greater availability of water for wild tigers and their prey which is especially important for one tigress and her four cubs because it helps to avoid tiger-tiger conflict and keeps her cubs safe. The more waterholes we can provide for wild tigers and other wildlife the more chance we have of reducing human-animal conflict as the drought season takes hold, too.

I am delighted to say that despite some unseasonable thunderstorms in the last week, work at the second waterhole is complete. We have lined the waterhole with loam soil which is better at retaining the water during the hot dry weather and provides a natural lining to the new waterhole which allows any excess water to return to underground springs via soak-away systems. This also ensures that our waterhole has been constructed in the most environmentally friendly manner so as to have minimum impact on the forest’s natural resources. Furthermore, we have constructed the banking surrounding the waterhole from excavated soil and materials from the waterhole pit and constructed channels between the two waterholes to aid filling of the second waterhole from any surpluses in the original first waterhole. We have used locally sourced labour (both men and women) in the construction of our waterholes, which in turn provides much needed employment in the rural community around Bandhavgarh and ensures that the workers and their families have a vested interest in the long term survival of wild tigers.

This larger waterhole cost us more than we had planned for the smaller dry-lined waterhole (£3860 (US$5000) as opposed to £1770 ($2330) to complete the construction, in addition to solar borehole pump costs) which has left our project funds severely depleted.

We launched our campaign to provide permanent water resources for tigers and other wildlife eight months ago and have managed to raise £487 ($628) of our £10,560 ($14,000) target and the hot dry season is already upon us with daytime temperatures already passing 35°C (95°F) and natural water sources already running dry. Our two waterholes in the Tala range plus the two waterholes constructed this time last year in the Magdhi range are now providing year-round permanent water for a total of 32 wild tigers including cubs plus countless other wildlife, which is around a third of the total number of wild tigers in Bandhavgarh.

In time we would like to ensure that every wild tiger in Bandhavgarh has access to safe drinking water year round, but for now we must focus on providing another waterhole in a critical need area which will help up to 15 tigers including their cubs. Ideally we would like to construct this waterhole before the end of 2019 but in order to do this we must raise sufficient funds before the end of September but we still need to raise another £10073 (US$13372) in the current campaign to make this possible. Every year, the effects of climate change are more evident in Bandhavgarh with shorter drier monsoon periods and longer extreme drought conditions being just two of the frequently occurring events these days. There are other consequences of this for tigers too, as natural water sources dry up the herbivore populations delay breeding because the conditions to support new-borns are not ideal, in time this will impact the tigers’ prey-base reducing food availability for a growing tiger population. In other parts of India, there have been recent reports of increased tiger deaths due to tiger-tiger territorial conflict and even reports of tiger cannibalism in one national park where tigers have killed and eaten 5 other tigers in 2019 alone. We want to act now before the impacts of climate change and harsh conditions affect Bandhavgarh’s animal population too, but to make the difference count we need your help.    

Those of you familiar with our previous report will remember that we mentioned the wildlife programme “Tiger Dynasties” which followed the lives of the Rajbehra tiger family in Bandhavgarh; and that the main waterhole in their territory became dry. Our December 2018 waterhole project ensured that there will now be year round water in the main waterhole for Rajbehra’s cubs, whilst our new waterhole is helping the other star tigress in the programme: Solo, to raise her new cubs.

Permanent water resources for wildlife are essential for reducing human-animal conflict; as water disappears, prey animals enter the villages in search of water and consume the precious crops whilst there. Predators, such as tigers and leopards inevitably follow the prey into the villages as they look for food, but when the prey runs away the tigers kill domestic livestock instead. Once a tiger has found easy prey such as livestock, which doesn’t run away, it will have a tendency to return to the village over and over again in search of food…. Human-tiger conflict results and the tiger (and its cubs) are at risk of retaliatory poisoning as a counter-measure to prevent this recurring. To reduce human-animal conflict, our waterholes for wild tigers and other wildlife are of critical importance especially as the hot dry season is already upon us.

The permanent wildlife waterholes we funded between February 2018 and March 2019 have already helped to save the lives of 32 wild tigers including cubs, with your help we can help to save to lives of up to 47 tigers which would be quite an achievement in itself. We have already identified another possible site for our next waterhole project, where there are limited natural water sources but an abundance of tigers exists, as 2 tigresses with young cubs have neighbouring territories. Providing a permanent wildlife waterhole in an area like this can save the lives of up to 15 wild tigers plus countless other wild animals which share their forest home.

Tiger numbers in Bandhavgarh are on the increase due to improved cub survival rates, but as mentioned in our previous report, territorial space is at a premium and tiger-tiger conflict is becoming a more frequent occurrence. This means that we need to ensure that adequate water is available to sustain an appropriate prey-base without the need for tigers to increase the size of their territories in search of food. We also need to look at other ways to reduce human-animal conflict through projects to restore depleted tiger habitat, including tree planting which will complement our current waterhole project: https://goto.gg/34315. These projects will need time to help to stabilise prey numbers and lead to future young tigers needing smaller territories. So for now, we are focussing on what we can do to make the most difference this year. We hope we can build upon the success we’ve already seen with the waterholes funded in 2018 by funding at least one more waterhole before the end of 2019, but we cannot do this without the funds to complete the work. We need to raise sufficient funds before the end of September which means another £10073 (US$13372) in the current campaign to make this work possible. We will look again at offline fundraising activities to boost funds too but hope that some of you will sign up to donate monthly and help us at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/?show=recurring. Even if you can only afford a single donation, why not donate on the 08 April 2019 (from 09:00 EDT/14:00 BST) when GlobalGiving will be offering 60% in matched funds making your £20 (US$26) donation worth £32 (US$43) at no extra cost to you: https://goto.gg/34315

If you feel able to help to make a difference for these precious wild tigers: £10/US$13 could help us to drill 1 metre (39.5 inches) of borehole, whilst £75/US$98 can help to pay wages to clear a site in preparation for a new waterhole to be constructed. All donations, however large or small, will help to reduce human-animal conflict and the risk of wild tigers perishing at the hands of humans.

I would like to thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping 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.

Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded new large Waterhole
Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded new large Waterhole

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