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Feb 27, 2019

Cubs, Commitment & Casualties

Tigress with 4 Tiny Cubs
Tigress with 4 Tiny Cubs

Wow, it is almost March already. 2019 is going quickly and so much has happened since our last project report it is difficult to know where to start.

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for your continued amazing support and donations, without which we would be unable to give wild tigers a wild future. I know that many of you will have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get fit, do dry January, do veganuary, etc., with possibly differing levels of success and stick-ability. Congratulations to all of you who have kept going.

Our New Year’s resolution is a bit perpetual: every year we say that we want to do more to give wild tigers a wild future, and every year we set out our plans. 2019 is no different. We want to increase our Anti-Poaching Patrols because the number of wild tigers we’re currently protecting has increased by 25% with the birth of 5 litters of new cubs. The patter of tiny paws in Bandhavgarh is certainly a welcome sight. It also increases the likelihood of human-animal conflict as the onset of the hot dry weather depletes natural water resources leading wildlife to enter the villages in search of water and food. We are delighted to say that our waterhole project is going really well to combat this by providing year-round water for 34 wild tigers (including cubs) and thousands of other animals which share the tigers’ forest home. Just this week, we received news from our team in India, that work to complete a second large waterhole to be served by the solar borehole pump we installed in December 2018 is nearing completion. This will ensure that at least 15 tigers will have access to water in an area completely ravaged by drought in the last 3 years. The primary waterhole at our latest site has a plentiful supply of water thank to the Tigers4Ever solar pump (in February 2018, the same area was dry which forced the Rajbehra family of tigers into the villages, as seen in the BBC wildlife documentary – Dynasties). You can find out more about our waterhole project here: https://goto.gg/34315 we will be producing an update report in the next few weeks once we have photos of the latest waterhole with water in it.

We also plan to combat the effects of climate change through a tree planting project which will also help to replenish lost tiger and wildlife habitat ravaged by years of illegal logging and wood-cutting. We will be working closely with the community on this initiative so that they will see just how long it takes for teak trees to grow and why constantly harvesting wood from the forest will bring the herbivores into their villages in search of food. At present, we are evaluating the benefits of seed planting versus the planting of saplings, and discussing the probable locations for the first plantings. Large areas of the forest have been destroyed by fires in the last three years and we would like to do something to replenish these areas too if funds permit. We hope to launch this project in time for the GlobalGiving Climate Fund Campaign in April.

Enough about our plans, for now though. I am sure that like us you will be delighted to hear that the gang of poachers who attacked and beat up our Senior Anti-Poaching Patroller, Ravi, have been caught, charged and are now behind bars. Knowing that these individuals are incarcerated in prison means that the tigers and their young cubs are safer too. It will soon be 17 months since the last tiger was poached in Bandhavgarh which together with our record of 44 months without a retaliatory poisoning is a great achievement on the part of our patrollers. We hope that we can raise sufficient funds to keep this exemplary record going.

As the drought season and peak poaching season approach, we fear that we will have to further reduce our patrolling to bring our costs down. I know that this will increase the risk of wild tigers being poached but we have little choice. In December 2017, we set a fundraising target of £8704 (US$ 11663) to cover the cost of our patrolling from 01 March 2018 – 28 February 2019 (inclusive), but we are still £1555 (US$2084) short of this target and our funding reserves have been depleted by under-pinning the cost of our Anti-Poaching Patrols in the last 3 months (as mentioned in the last newsletter). Our costs have also been impacted by exchange rate variability between the UK£ and the US$ (donations received) and the UK£ and the Indian Rupee (project costs). We launched our campaign to raise funds for our 2019 Anti-Poaching Patrolling (from 01 March 2019 – 29 February 2020, inclusive) three months early in 2018 (https://goto.gg/34704) to try to address the fundraising deficit, and keep our patrols protecting wild tigers. Funds raised for the 2019 project, however, are also well below our target with only sufficient funds to cover one month’s patrolling raised to date. In February 2019, we were forced to implement a 20% reduction in our patrolling, so that we could cover costs from the funds raised to date and our depleted reserves; now we must ask 62 of our supporters if they could donate £25 (US$34) each so we can continue our patrolling for the next two months. Please help if you can by donating at: https://goto.gg/28767 and help us to keep wild tigers safe.

Without the vital funds we now need, we will have no option other than to call time on our Anti-Poaching Patrol project which has been so successful since we started patrolling in July 2015 leading to an increase in wild tiger numbers from 55 (July 2015) to more than 100 (including cubs) by the end of January 2019. I hope that you will be able to help and we can continue to work together to keep wild tigers safe throughout 2019. Remember all donations can make a big difference to our wild tiger conservation efforts no matter how large or small (https://goto.gg/28767).

We still have a few 2019 Tigers4Ever calendars which are now half price at £5 plus P&P in our online shop: http://www.tigers4ever.org/onlineshop.html while stocks last. Remember that the tiger family featured in BBC “Tiger Dynasties” documentary appear in the months of April, August and November, and Solo (now a mother to four cubs of her own) was the February 2019 tiger of the month. All profits from calendar sales will be used to help us keep wild tigers safe.

Finally, I would like to thank you again 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, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi and our patrolling team.

Links:

Feb 21, 2019

New Hope

Reducing Human-Tiger Conflict in Bandhavgarh
Reducing Human-Tiger Conflict in Bandhavgarh

We told you in December how difficult it was proving to raise sufficient funds to meet our target to change the lives of young children living with wild tigers and create the next generation of wild tiger protectors. We are now delighted to say that thanks to a fantastic response from 4 of our supporters we will be able to provide education packs for at least 35 children living with wild tigers, to enable them to go to school in 2019-2020. Although we would dearly love to do more, we are grateful that we can at least help the children in one small village in Bandhavgarh this summer. We are still planning to have some offline fundraising events in April 2019 where we hope to boost donations through face-to-face contact and other fundraising initiatives, before finalising the orders for the education packs for distribution this year.

We also hope that some of our supporters may be planning to give something up for Lent (06 March 2019 – 20 April 2019) this year and maybe get some friends to sponsor their quest whilst fundraising to help us save wild tigers via the new fundraiser page option at GlobalGiving. Please use this link: https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=32565 to set up your own fundraiser page, if you are interested in becoming a Fundraiser for Tigers4Ever and would like to help us to send young children living with wild tigers to school.

Although we have made some fundraising progress for this project over the last few months, we still have some way to go if we are to deliver at least as many education packs to children living with wild tigers as we did in 2018. A further £1116 (US$1496) is still needed if we are to achieve this goal.

We will now turn our attention to identifying a small village which has suffered due to human-animal conflict in recent months; this could be due to loss of crops (raided by herbivores) or loss of livestock (due to predator attacks). Our experience has shown 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. Our Anti-Poaching Patrols receive this information too so that they can keep a watchful eye on potential high risk situations for wild tigers. We have also found that providing assistance in affected villages helps inhabitants to love tigers and other wildlife again, thereby reducing the risk of retaliatory actions. This year, we will have 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 mentioned in our last report, 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 contents for inclusion in the Tigers4Ever education packs from local suppliers around the wild tiger territory, and create employment for those who wrap the education packs and deliver them to our Indian representatives for distribution.

Climate change and some unseasonable weather conditions continue to make life difficult for everyone living in and around Bandhavgarh, including the tigers and other wildlife. These challenges are leading to more instances where humans and wildlife have nothing to eat, thus increasing the likelihood of human-animal conflict as both compete for the same scarce resources. Even without attacks on livestock by predators including tigers and leopards, the villages are plagued by langur monkeys and other animals which raid their crops. Low crop yields leave uneducated villagers with little money for food and few employment prospects, so they turn to picking tendu leaves (for Indian tobacco) and mahua flowers (for the manufacture of local alcohol), and harvest honeycombs from the scarce forest resources. The villagers only make a pittance in income from these dangerous activities whilst the risk of conflict with a tiger or other predator 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.

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 also know that educated families have fewer children. We still hope to provide education packs for at least 220 children in the villages around Bandhavgarh in time for the start of the new school year in July 2019, but we will only be able to do this if we can raise sufficient funds, a further £1116 (US$1496) is still needed for this. Remember just £10/$13 will help us to provide education packs for 3 of the youngest group of children living with wild tigers. So, if you a thinking of becoming a Tigers4Ever fundraiser, your challenge can be big or small. 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 4 months (including bonus matched funds and Gift Aid); which would enable your donation to have 50% greater impact for wild tigers!

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.

Links:

Jan 25, 2019

Tiger Dynasties

1 of the orphaned cubs in a Tigers4Ever Waterhole
1 of the orphaned cubs in a Tigers4Ever Waterhole

Firstly we would like to wish all our supporters a happy and peaceful new year. It is hard to believe that 2018 is already over and we’re already into the third week of 2019, so much has happened with the wild tigers and with Tigers4Ever over the last twelve months.

From January to March 2018 we had to deal with increased incidence of human-animal and tiger-tiger conflict due to the early onset of severe drought in Bandhavgarh; whilst operating with a 17% reduction in our Anti-Poaching patrols due to a lack of funding. In the same period we managed to install a solar-powered bore-well to provide permanent year-round water for the 3 orphaned cubs. We also started work on a second waterhole which is used by up to 9 different tigers, some of which appeared in the BBC wildlife documentary “Tiger Dynasties” which aired in December in the UK and just last weekend on BBC-America. This work was completed by the beginning of April and harmony was restored as wild tigers and other wildlife stayed out of the villages as their natural waterhole has been replenished by water from underground sources.

Funds were still tight in the second quarter of 2018, so patrolling continued with a 17% reduction, we had to do this so that we could increase patrolling during the monsoon period which is peak tiger poaching season throughout India, due to the washing away of human tracks which makes tracking poaching activity so much harder. It was quite remarkable, therefore, that there were no tigers killed by poachers or poisoners during the first 6 months of 2018. Our patrols, manage to maintain this because of the way they deal with miscreants when they find them in the forest and by the communication they have with the villagers so that they are left with no doubt that miscreant activity will not go unchecked.

The biggest impact of our lack of funds came in May and June when we had to reduce the number of education packs we could distribute to the poorest children in the villages most impacted by human-animal conflict by over 56%. The consequence of this was we could only distribute education packs to the children in 2 villages instead of 3; and we needed to reduce the number of education packs provided for the pop up schools in the remotest poorest villages by 70%. June also saw a visit from GlobalGiving to each of our project sites to verify the work we are doing and assess the impact on the tiger community. Thankfully, by the start of the monsoon in July, we were able to increase our patrolling by 240% and maintain this increase throughout July, August and September. This was only possible thanks to the amazing help we have received from supporters like you.

October saw the anniversary of the last tiger poaching case in Bandhavgarh, which had left 3 orphaned cubs, which survived with our help including the provision of a permanent year-round water source for them. November saw Tigers4Ever start work on another major waterhole in Bandhavgarh, providing a solar-powered borehole pump and dry-lined core waterhole at the site of the Rajbehra dam featured in the BBC Tiger Dynasties programme. This waterhole helps to sustain the lives of up to fifteen tigers, including seven tigers which were featured in the programme, and appear in our 2019 Calendars. Work on this waterhole was critical as natural water sources had run completely dry in each of the last 3 years leading to repeated incidents of human-animal conflict in the villages which surround Bandhavgarh. We were delighted, therefore, to see the work on the solar-powered borehole pump completed before the end of December, the final stages will be completed in the coming weeks, and we are delighted to hear that there is currently plenty of water in the waterhole for tigers and other wildlife. We are also delighted to report that in the final quarter of 2018 we were able to complete our patrolling at normal levels in each of the three months; and that it is now 1 year and 111 days (476 days) since the last tiger poaching incident in Bandhavgarh. It is 3 years and 7 months since the last case of retaliatory tiger poisoning in Bandhavgarh, too, which is quite an achievement for our patrollers.

On a sour note, Ravi (name changed for anonymity), a senior Tigers4Ever Anti-Poaching Patroller, was brutally attacked and hospitalised, by a gang of poachers, at the beginning of December. Ravi sustained a fractured skull and nose together with broken ribs and multiple bruises during the attack. He spent most of December in hospital and had to be moved to the nearest large city some 400 miles away for treatment at a specialist hospital. Whilst Ravi was in hospital, times were quite hard for his family due to the increased burden of his medical bills. We are delighted to say that Ravi is feeling much better now, and although he still has some pain in his wounds, he returned to his duties as a Tigers4Ever Anti-poaching Patroller last week. Ravi is a true hero for the wild tigers.

For January 2019, we have kept the patrolling at optimum levels, but this is currently under review as we may need to reduce our patrolling again over the next few months to ensure that we will be able to patrol during the monsoon peak-poaching season this year. Much will depend on the funds we manage to raise over the next few weeks. 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 80 of our supporters to donate just £20 (US$26) each over the next few weeks, we will be able to keep our patrols protecting wild tigers at optimum levels for the next three months. Throughout 2018, our Anti-Poaching Patrols helped to keep Bandhavgarh free of poachers’ traps; and we hope to continue this success throughout the whole of 2019, but we cannot do this without funds to keep our patrols in the field.

If you can help us to give these precious wild tigers a safer wild future, even the smallest donation can help: £10/US$13 can provide 3 hot meals each for 2 patrollers whilst they are on duty, whilst £38/US$50 will help to provide transport and fuel to get a team of 6 Anti-Poaching Patrollers to their patrolling area for the day/night. Your donations help us to feed & pay the patrollers, they also help to provide a safe haven for our patrollers, transport, fuel, and any vital equipment which needs replacing. Transport and fuel are vital for our patrollers who help to protect 1598 square kilometres (993 square miles) of precious tiger habitat. All donations, however large or small, will help to keep these brave men and women protecting wild tigers from perishing at the hands of humans.

We have also reduced the price of our 2019 Calendar which is available from our website at: http://www.tigers4ever.org/onlineshop.html at £5.00 plus post & packing each. This beautiful A3 full colour calendar contains 14 original images of the tigers your donations are helping to protect plus details of how our work helps to make a real difference for wild tigers. We think this would also make a perfect gift for a special someone in your life who loves wild tigers.

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.

Bandhavgarh Tigress & 4 Tiny Cubs
Bandhavgarh Tigress & 4 Tiny Cubs
 
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