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Sep 14, 2018

Helping Children in Villages without Schools

Children at one of the "Pop-up Schools" with their
Children at one of the "Pop-up Schools" with their

In our last report, we told you about the impact we had in the villages of Ranchha and Dobha, where the young children living with wild tigers were afforded the opportunity to go to school thanks to the education packs donated by Tigers4Ever. We also mentioned how, thanks to our collaboration with GTCS (Global Tiger Conservation Society), a local charity based in Bandhavgarh, we are able to reach out and assist children living with wild tigers who do not have access to a school in their villages. These children are faced with either walking to another village (often 10 km or more away from their home) to go to school or not going to school at all. The walk isn’t an easy one because it is through the forests where wild tigers, leopards and other wildlife roam, so in many cases these children don’t go to school, instead they work in the fields tending the crops grown by their families or looking after the livestock which provide income from milk sales when the crops are exhausted or fail. Worse still, some of these small children are sent into the forest to collect wood to build fires for cooking or heating their homes in the colder months. Reaching out to these children, to deliver education is therefore a real challenge.

Our friends, at GTCS, help to make this possible by visiting these remote villages and running “pop-up schools” where nature education and basic literacy skills are taught to all who can attend. In these “pop-up schools”, the children often sit on the floor in a communal building or if unavailable, a sheltered part of the village close to the edge of the forest will provide an alternative learning area. The children gather around eager to see what they will be given, in order to help the maximum number of children GTCS sometimes split the education parks giving a few pencils or pens and other writing materials to each child. Books, like our ecology books, Hindi-English dictionaries and the books which aid the learning of basic literacy and numeracy skills are often shared between two or more students so that more can have an opportunity to learn. This Summer the pop-up schools were in the villages of Rakhi, Jamunra and Mala and thanks to some of our supporters in the USA we have also been able to distribute some socks and shoes to the children in these villages (socks and shoes were collected by supporters in the USA and sent directly to India for distribution amongst the children).

We continue to include education in our programmes because the humans who live with wild tigers will have the greatest influence on the future survival of them in the wild; and because we know that educated families have fewer children. We were delighted to be able to provide 55 education packs and ecology books for distribution at the “Pop-up Schools” run in association with GTCS, a lack of donations has meant that it has been impossible to do more this year. We have collaborated with GTCS for 2 years; and are delighted to see the impact of our work in some of the poorest rural locations which do not have a village school or easy access to a neighbouring one. Tigers4Ever would have liked to provide education packs for more children in the villages around Bandhavgarh, but even with pooled funds from our offline fundraising activities we were only able to provide 220 education packs so far this year.  

Just £10/$13 would help us to provide education packs for 3 of the youngest group of children living with wild tigers. Yet this amount eludes most of the families we meet in most of the villages because their income has been severely impacted by a lack of rainfall reducing their income from crop and milk sales together with the need to buy food to keep their families alive. It must be almost unbearable to live in temperatures of 50°C (122°F) for 4 months with no air conditioning, no electricity and no running water, let alone manage to feed a family of 6 or more from an income of just £5.50 (US$7.30) per week.  For those children we help to get an education there is the prospect of paid employment as a protector of wild tigers, where they could earn £23 (US$31) per week. For the unfortunate ones, the struggle to survive on the meagre offerings they can gain from crop farming and milk sales is probably what awaits them.

We are still £2412 ($3184) short of our target for education packs to send for children living with wild tigers (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 rather than putting increased pressure on the already fragile habitat.

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.

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Jul 13, 2018

Extended Drought, Fires & Peak Poaching Season

Our Patrols discover a raging forest fire at night
Our Patrols discover a raging forest fire at night

Thanks to the amazing support we have received from you all during the first two quarters of 2018, we are entering the monsoon season (peak tiger poaching season in India) with confidence that we can double our Anti-Poaching Patrols to try to mitigate the increased risk of snares & traps being missed. Since 01 July 2015, Tigers4Ever patrollers have patrolled the Buffer Forests around Bandhavgarh helping to completely eliminate the incidence of retaliatory poisoning incidents against tigers in each of 3 years. In the same 3 year period only 3 tigers wandered into snare traps laid by poachers, 1 tigress was rescued from such a snare & taken to Bhopal where she recovered from her injuries, the others sadly died.

Our patrolling has contributed to a 94% decline in poaching incidents. When this is compared to the rest of India, where tiger poaching has been on the increase since 2014 (120 reported cases of tiger poaching since 2015), it is a remarkable achievement. We are delighted by this progress. In fact, tiger numbers have increased in Bandhavgarh so territorial space is at a premium leading to fears of tiger-tiger conflict. This has recently been addressed with the transfer 2 young tigers to a tiger reserve in Odisha where tiger numbers are critically low; here they will have space to establish their own territories without coming into conflict with humans. So far in 2018, our Anti-Poaching Patrols have helped to keep Bandhavgarh free of poachers’ traps; we hope we can continue this success throughout the remainder of the year.

In our last report, we mentioned how the duties of our Anti-Poaching Patrollers had expanded beyond searching for poachers' snares & traps, together with their vital role in communicating the threat of extinction which wild tigers face to include the quenching of forest fires. The severe drought has now persisted for over four months with a delay in the onset of the 2018 monsoon rains compounding the problem. The ever increasing daily temperatures have increased the severity of the forest fires with the worst decimating prime tiger habitat over a fifteen mile stretch. In May 2018, we received sad news that one of the Forest Department guards who regularly accompanied our patrols had died from a heart-attack whilst fighting one of the forest fires. Tigers4Ever Anti-Poaching Patrols continue to help with the early identification of forest fires & helping forest department officials to quench them. The prolonged drought season has increased the risk of human-animal conflict as rivers, streams & lakes have run dry resulting in prey animals entering villages in search of water & predators following in search of food. Tigers are notorious for livestock rustlers in the hot, dry season, so we have increased our efforts to keep prey & predators out of the villages to prevent retaliatory poisonings or revenge snaring of tigers.

We also told you how Tigers4Ever had help to address the water shortage by constructing two permanent wildlife waterholes which are provide year-round water for 12+ tigers & countless other wildlife. We are now planning to raise funds to construct more of these waterholes in the coming year (hopefully). You can see details of this project at: https://goto.gg/34315 where we hope to further reduce the risk of human-animal conflict from straying wildlife.

With the birth of nine tiny cubs & many others under 1 year old currently in Bandhavgarh, our patrollers need to be extra vigilant during peak poaching season. The monsoon season brings a peak in tiger & leopard poaching activity, as heavy rainfall washes away the tell-tale signs of human tracks. For this reason we try to double our patrols throughout July, August & September (in 2017 we were only able to increase our patrolling by 50% due to a lack of funding & a tigress was poached leaving 3 orphaned cubs). This year, we have doubled our patrols in July, & hope to raise sufficient funds to sustain the increase throughout August & September. If you would like to help, £10/$13 will provide 3 hot meals each for 2 patrollers whilst they are on duty protecting wild tigers, whilst £20/$26 will help to pay a team of 6 Anti-Poaching Patrollers for a day: https://goto.gg/28767. All donations, however large or small, help to keep these brave men & women protecting wild tigers during the day & night. Our patrollers must be extra careful during the torrential monsoon rains when the tell-tale signs of a tiger’s presence are also washed away. Thankfully, Langhur monkeys perched high in the trees provide an early warning system of a predator’s approach with their varying alarm calls. We provide our patrollers with head-torches so they can keep their h&s free whilst conducting foot patrols & strong canes to ensure that they don’t become the unintended victim of a snare. In June 2018, Tigers4Ever also funded a new search light for mounting on the patrol vehicle which enables checks to be made over greater distances at night before dismounting the vehicle.

The donations we received during the second quarter of 2018 were sufficient to keep our patrols protecting wild tigers for 50% of a month; fortunately we had raised sufficient funds earlier in the year to keep our patrolling going for longer. Your donations also help us to pay our patrols, to provide transport to get them to & from their patrol beat & enable us to give them 3 nutritious hot meals per day whilst they are on duty. Your donations also help us to provide a safe haven for our patrollers to return to in the event that alarm calls from the jungle indicate that a tiger or leopard is approaching. Transport & fuel are vital tools for our patrollers who need to cover 1598 square kilometres (993 square miles) of precious tiger habitat.

We still need £2917 ($4150) to fund our Anti-Poaching Patrols for the rest of 2018. If we can raise these funds we will be able to maintain double patrolling during peak poaching season & can increase our Autumn patrolling by 20% (compared to Autumn 2017), but this is subject to raising sufficient funds to cover the increased costs. Tigers4Ever needs to raise £720/$980 per month (or £8640/$11400 total) to make this possible & keep patrolling at optimum levels during peak poaching season & for the rest of 2018. Please visit: https://goto.gg/28767 to help. The £330/$470, which you helped us to raise with your kind donations in the second quarter of 2018, together with funds raised earlier in the year, has kept our patrols protecting wild tigers for the moment & we hope that Global Tiger Day on 29 July 2018 will inspire more people to help. Your donations will not only help to feed & pay the patrollers, they also help to provide transport, fuel, & any vital equipment which needs to be replaced.

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 (& their families who have food on the table); & on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food & equipment for our patrols & from the safety & education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad & our patrolling team.

Links:

Jul 3, 2018

Making an Impact

Tigers4Ever distributing education packs in Dobha
Tigers4Ever distributing education packs in Dobha

Thanks to the amazing support we have received from you since this project launched in April 2018, we have been able to change the lives of 220 children living with wild tigers in Bandhavgarh and we hope to continue this success throughout the remainder of the year and in future years too.

It has been 6 years since we last visited Ranchha and Dobha villages, in the Kithauli buffer zone. Here villagers frequently suffer loss of livestock when tigers or leopards strike during the day or night. 2018 has been a hard year for everyone living in Bandhavgarh because the 2017 monsoon only delivered 40% of the expected rainfall meaning that there has been a severe drought and countless forest fires destroying everything in their wake since the end of January. 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. We wanted to see how our work had impacted the villages since 2012 and to help the current crop of young children to go to school. In 2012 there were 125 children in Ranchha and 75 children in Dobha, so we arrived in Dobha village with 220 education packs expecting to see a few more children this time around. Some of the older children we helped in 2012 are now adults and married; to our surprise our efforts with education seem to be helping to impact the number of children more quickly than expected as we witnessed a 27% fall in number to 55. The children gathered eagerly to collect their education packs and thanked us before we left. We then drove to Ranchha where we again expected more children than in 2012; again we found a decrease in the number of children with a fall of 12% since 2012 to 110. We were delighted to see this helpful impact and to still have 55 education packs for distribution at the “Pop-up Schools” run in association with GTCS (Global Tiger Conservation Society), a local charity based in Bandhavgarh. We have collaborated with GTCS for 2 years; and are delighted to see the impact of our work in some of the poorest rural locations which do not have a village school or easy access to a neighbouring one.

Although the observed decreases in population are small, they are important for the long term future of wild tigers because it will reduce the pressure on the forest from human encroachment, illegal woodcutting and the gathering of precious forest resources to provide food for livestock. Perhaps, more importantly, it will impact future family sizes too as more children gain an education and learn about the impact of the human footprint of the ecology and climate of their planet.

Tigers4Ever would have liked to provide education packs for more children in the villages around Bandhavgarh in time for the start of the new school year on 02 July 2018, but once we’d pooled funds from our offline fundraising activities and the GlobalGiving Campaign we were only able to help 220 children this June.

Just £10/$13 would help us to provide education packs for 3 of the youngest group of children living with wild tigers. Yet this amount eludes most of the families we met in the villages of Ranchha and Dobha because their income has been severely impacted by a lack of rainfall reducing their income from crop and milk sales together with the need to buy food to keep their families alive. We can only imagine how hard it would be to live in temperatures of 50°C (122°F) for 4 months with no air conditioning, no electricity and no running water, let alone managing to feed a family of 6 or more from an income of just £5.50 (US$7.30) per week. For those children we help to get an education there is the prospect of paid employment as a protector of wild tigers, where they could earn £23 (US$31) per week.

We are £2412 ($3184) short of our current target for education packs to send for children living with wild tigers (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.

Tigers4Ever distributing education packs in Ranchh
Tigers4Ever distributing education packs in Ranchh
Young female tiger in the forest of Bandhavgarh
Young female tiger in the forest of Bandhavgarh

Links:

 
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