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