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Jan 2, 2019

Another Waterhole for Wild Tigers

Tiger cubs enjoying the cool around the waterhole
Tiger cubs enjoying the cool around the waterhole

We launched our campaign to provide permanent water resources for tigers and other wildlife just six months ago, at a time when 99.5% of the annual rainfall in Bandhavgarh was falling. This was quite deliberate because major projects such as waterhole construction take time both to fund and construct. Although our campaign has been live for almost half a year we’ve only managed to raise £450 ($510) of our £10,560 ($14,000) target and the hot dry season is just around the corner.

We have, however, been able to start work on our latest waterhole construction, just 6 weeks ago thanks to a generous offline donation from one of our supporters in the UK. This donation has made it possible for us to start work on providing a solar-powered borehole pump to source an existing waterhole which had dried out completely in each of the last two years. In the next few days, the mechanics will put the finishing touches to the solar borehole system and water will be pumped 76.5 metres (210 feet) to the surface to ensure that the 12 wild tigers including cubs and countless other wildlife dependent on this waterhole will not have to enter villages in the nearby buffer forests in search of drinking water next year. The workers are even working on New Year’s Day to try to get this project complete before the onset of 5 months of searing heat and no rainfall. Phase 2 of the project will see a dry-lined waterhole constructed at the heart of the existing natural waterhole to reduce water loss in the dry season due to soak away and evaporation as the mud bakes into dry sand. We anticipate that this work will be completed by mid-February subject to appropriate funds being in place. The dry-lined waterhole will cost in the region of £1770 ($2330) to complete construction, dependent on size and whether machinery is needed or just locally sourced manual labour, much will depend on the speed at which the natural water levels recede.   

Those of you familiar with our previous report will remember that once again the monsoon in 2018 brought inadequate rainfall for the fourth successive year. This has also been coupled with some unseasonably low temperatures in December leading to speculation about the impending onset of the hot dry season. In 2018, many natural water sources were already completely dry by February, so we are trying to work with a similar timetable in mind. Once we have completed work at the latest waterhole site, we will look to raise funds for a second waterhole to be constructed during the hot dry season. If you live in the UK, you may have recently seen the wild programme “Dynasties” which followed the lives of a tigress and her four young cubs in Bandhavgarh; in the programme you may have seen the main waterhole in the tigress’s territory become dry. If you did, then you will be delighted to know that Tigers4Ever’s latest waterhole project is at the site of this waterhole as we are determined that it will not run dry for a third successive year. Permanent water resources for wildlife are essential for reducing human-animal conflict; as water disappears, the prey animals enter the villages to look for water and consume the precious crops whilst they are there. Predators such as tigers and leopards follow the prey into the villages as they look for food, but when the prey runs away the tigers kill domestic livestock to gain an easy meal. 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 to stop this recurring countless times. For this reason, our waterholes for wild tigers are of critical importance especially as the hot dry season begins.

The permanent wildlife waterholes we funded between February-April 2018 have already helped to save the lives of 15 wild tigers including cubs, with your help we can help to save to lives of up to triple this number of tigers which would be quite an achievement in itself.

Thanks to your amazing support we have raised £450 ($510) during the first six months of fundraising, which has helped us to fund drilling the first 50 metres (162.5ft) of a borehole for our current waterhole project. We haven’t lost any tigers to poachers since October 2017 and one of our waterholes helped to save the 3 orphaned cubs of a poached tigress, so we want to ensure that our efforts are maintained. As we mentioned above, when water is in short supply human-animal conflict increases as herbivores wander into villages in search of water and eat the crops whilst there; then tigers follow in search of food and kill livestock which doesn’t run away. We have already identified another possible site for our fourth 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.

At present, tiger numbers in Bandhavgarh are on the increase due to the numbers of cubs surviving to adulthood. As mentioned in our previous report, this causes problems as territorial space is at a premium and tiger-tiger conflict becomes a more frequent occurrence. As a result, we are continuing to look at other new projects to help to restore depleted tiger habitat, including tree planting schemes which will complement our current waterhole projects: https://goto.gg/34315. In time, these will help to stabilise prey numbers meaning that future young tigers may need smaller territories. We hope we can build upon the success of the two and a half waterholes funded in 2018 by funding at least one more waterhole before the end of the hot dry season in early June 2019, but we cannot do this without the funds to complete the work. We need to raise £10110 (US$13420) so that we can start work before the natural water resources run dry. 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.

If you feel that you would like 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.

Links:

Dec 13, 2018

Saving Wild Tigers isn't Easy

Alpha male tiger in a rock pool waterhole
Alpha male tiger in a rock pool waterhole

First of all I would like to thank all of our supporters for their amazing help and donations throughout 2018, without which we would be unable to do what we do to give wild tigers a wild future. I should also like to take this opportunity to wish those of you who celebrate it a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous new year. I hope that we can continue to work together throughout 2019 to keep giving wild tigers the chance of a wild future.

This year has been a mixed year in wild tiger territory, with droughts between January and June leading to increased incidents of human-animal and tiger-tiger conflict. The monsoon season from July brought some flash floods from heavy rains in July followed by the driest September for more than 10 years. Although total rainfall in the 2018 monsoon was better than in the previous 3 years, there was still an overall deficit in the replenishment of natural water sources. Right now, and throughout 2018, we have been doing what we can to construct permanent wildlife waterholes to address this situation, you can discover more about this work here: https://goto.gg/34315. The final quarter of 2018 has also brought some ups and downs in the world of wild tiger conservation. In October, we marked the anniversary of the last tiger poaching case in Bandhavgarh with 365 days poaching free (this is now 14 months and 10 days or 436 days without poachers killing a wild tiger) and received the devastating news that China was lifting its 25 year ban on the use of tiger bone in traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) and the trade in tiger body parts. Following weeks of International outrage and uproar at this proposal, the Chinese government agreed to postpone lifting the ban at the end of November, so for now the expected increase in demand for wild tiger body parts and bones is on hold. We cannot assume that the threat has gone away, because the key word coming out of China is postpone, so we continue to be on high alert for increased poaching activity. The end of the year has brought some devastating news on a personal front for Tigers4Ever with one of our senior Anti-Poaching Patrollers attacked by a gang of poachers outside his home at the beginning of this month; he had finished work for Tigers4Ever and was returning home to his family when set upon by the poachers.

This brutal attack on our patroller saw him beaten with sticks, punched and kicked, before the assailants absconded. Ravi (name changed for protection) was left covered in cuts and bruises with severe swelling around his head, face and eye. Ravi called out for help which came from his friends and family, he was taken to the local government hospital (some 60 miles away) for assessment and initial treatment, but the serious nature of the injuries to Ravi’s face and head meant that he required specialist tests, including a CT scan, which were unavailable at the local government hospital. When Ravi was able to travel he was taken to the specialist hospital in Jabalpur (some 300 miles away) where he could have appropriate tests and treatment. The CT scan revealed that Ravi has suffered fractures to his left eye socket, nose and skull. Two weeks on, Ravi is still in hospital and in a lot of pain, we do not know yet whether he will require surgery for his injuries, the swelling needs time to settle first to enable the doctors to assess whether the fractures will heel without surgical intervention. Meanwhile, Ravi is unable to return to work, he is keen to get back to his duties as a protector of wild tigers as soon as possible, and whilst he is in hospital he has additional expenses for medical costs and cannot support his family. Our Tigers4Ever team in India are helping where they can but there may come a point where we need to have a specific fundraiser to help Ravi’s family until he is able to work again. This incident served to remind us, if we had forgotten that Anti-Poaching Patrollers are brave men and women heroes who risk their lives every time they go into the forest to look for poachers and their snares or traps. We are further pressured because we have had to use reserves to cover the cost of our Anti-poaching patrols in November and December as we are £2077 (US$2768) short of our fundraising target for this year: https://goto.gg/28767. If we could ask each of you to remember the bravery of Ravi and our other patrollers if you are considering donating to charity this Christmas, as we could reach our target with 110 donations of US$25 (£20) each which would enable turn our focus to how our patrollers will be able to keep wild tigers safe throughout 2019.   

Remember, that in 2018, our Anti-Poaching Patrols have helped to keep Bandhavgarh free of poachers’ traps and snares; whilst wild tigers have died all around India and other tiger countries, which means that our efforts are giving wild tigers a wild future and we hope to continue this for many years to come. We cannot do this without the support of our followers so we’d ask you to spare a thought for wild tigers during the festive holiday season and whilst making your New Year Resolutions for 2019.

For those of you who saw the BBC wildlife programme “Dynasties” Episode 5 – “Tigers” focussed on one particular tiger family, from Bandhavgarh, the Rajbehra female and her cubs. I am delighted to say that these tigers are amongst the wild tigers to feature in our 2019 Tigers4Ever calendars which are available now in our online shop, while stocks last. The featured family appear in the months of April, August and November, whilst one of the other tigers shown: Solo is the tiger of the month for February2019. Please see our website for more details.

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 and our patrolling team. Happy holidays and best wishes for the festive season.

Poor Ravi, 3 days after attack by Poachers
Poor Ravi, 3 days after attack by Poachers

Links:

Dec 11, 2018

New Ways to Help

How our projects all put wild tigers at the heart
How our projects all put wild tigers at the heart

Although we were able to change the lives of 220 children living with wild tigers in Bandhavgarh in the summer of 2018, fundraising for this project has proved extremely difficult this year, so we are now looking at other ways to fund and continue this vital wild tiger conservation project in 2019 and beyond.

Since 2012, we have been providing educational resources and scholarships for children living with wild tigers in Bandhavgarh. In six years we have changed the lives of many people by providing educational opportunities for 2020 children in 24 of the villages most frequently impacted by human-tiger conflict. Our impact doesn’t just make a difference for the children and their parents in the villages which benefit from our distribution of education packs. Our work creates an impact on the wider tiger community around Bandhavgarh too, as we have sourced over 30000 contents for inclusion in Tigers4Ever education packs from local suppliers around this wild tiger territory, whilst creating employment for those who wrap the education packs and deliver them to our Indian representatives for distribution (we arrange for the packs to be individually wrapped and labelled in brown paper and don’t use plastics because of the negative impact these would have on the environment. The paper can be recycled, used for other purposes or burnt on the cooking fires used in the villages).

As we mentioned in our previous newsletters, 2018 has been a difficult year for everyone living in and around Bandhavgarh, including the tigers and other wildlife. This is largely due to the long-term impact of poor rainfall in three successive monsoon seasons leading to drought, poor crop yields and in some cases crop failure. When humans and wildlife have nothing to eat, conflict inevitably arises as both need to live from the same scarce resources. Even without attacks on livestock by predators such as tigers, leopards, wild dogs and wild boar, the villagers are plagued by langur monkeys, birds and deer which raid their crops. When the crop yield is low, uneducated villagers have few employment prospects, so they enter the forests to pick tendu leaves (for Indian tobacco) and mahua flowers (for the manufacture of local alcohol), and harvest honeycombs (for their precious honey to sell, although this also brings humans into conflict with sloth bears and angry honey bees!). The income from these enterprises is very low whilst the risk of conflict with a tiger or other predator is very high. The villages need to collect 5000 tendu leaves just to earn Rs.125 (around £1.50/$1.75). As we have previously reported, such conditions put extreme financial pressures on people living with tigers and when faced with the prospect of buying basic materials for their children to go to school or feeding the family, the latter will always win, of course.

We include education in our programmes because humans have the greatest influence on the future survival of tigers in the wild and because we know that educated families have fewer children. Tigers4Ever would like to provide education packs for more children in the villages around Bandhavgarh in time for the start of the new school year in July 2019, but in order to fund this we must look to get some help with offline fundraising activities and would like to invite suggestions from you as to how you can help us to make a difference for wild tigers with a fundraising challenge either pre-Christmas or in January 2019 as part of your New Year resolution. Please email us with your ideas or if you need any help raising awareness of your fundraising activity. Remember just £10/$13 will help us to provide education packs for 3 of the youngest group of children living with wild tigers. So your challenge can be big or small. Thank you in anticipation.

 We are still £2410 ($3180) short of our target to get education packs to send children living with wild tigers to school (https://goto.gg/32565). We hope that we can raise sufficient funds to cover these costs and keep the progress we have made to date going. If we can reach our target then we can help another 280 children to have an opportunity to become a future protector of wild tigers.

I would like to thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the children which we have helped to get an education (and their families who will also have food on the table); 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:

 
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