Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger

by Wildlife Trust of India
Play Video
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Vanishing Stripes: Save the Bengal Tiger
Wildlife Crime Control App
Wildlife Crime Control App

WTI, with the support of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), has developed an Android based smartphone Wildlife Crime Control App (WccA) wherein users can report wildlife crimes from anywhere across the country using their phones! 

The WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.

This app is the first of its kind in the country and has an integrated digital version of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.  WTI formally handed over the app to WCCB in November during an event held at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

The main feature of WccA is that whenever an individual reports a wildlife crime, the lead will be automatically delivered to a designated email id of WCCB. A cost and time-effective tool, the app also has the provision of sending anonymous reports to the WCCB, who will be the sole custodian of the collected information. Also, no details of the person reporting the crime will be shared without the prior consent of the individual. This interactive app has a simple User Interface (UI) and replaces written reporting and records.

The app is compatible with devices running on Android Jelly Bean (ver 4.3 or higher) and the minimum space requirement is 10MB and 512MB of free RAM with screen size of 4.5” or higher. 

India is home to about 1700 wild tigers. This is a little more than half of the world's wild tiger population. This App is a step towards giving the people a chance to help protect that which is so very dear to them - India's Natural Heritage. 

Your support to WTI's Enforcement project has been crucial to its growth and today, as the year turns, I reach out to you with a plea - for your continued support to our endeavour to protect some of the most beautiful animals in the world.

Here's wishing you a wonderful and fulfilling 2015!

From all of us here at Wildlife Trust of India

A young tiger in the forests of South India
A young tiger in the forests of South India
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Don't let the bad guys get to me
Don't let the bad guys get to me

We respect, encourage and celebrate wildlife photography. However, like any aspect with attached ethical obligations, wildlife photography also comes with its own set of norms and rules that one MUST obey to help save the very animals which are being ‘shot’.

Resisting geo-tagging photographs is one such norm that should be followed with much greater zeal than it is now. When you geo-tag a photograph of wildlife, especially of tigers, leopards, bears etc., you make the life of the poacher (even an aspiring hunter) easier. By giving the locations, you are essentially helping reduce the gap between the hunter and the hunted by making it easier for poachers to track their targets and finish them off.

One needs to remember not all who see wildlife are conservationists or people simply happy to see these gorgeous creatures out there living a natural life. What they see is money... lots of it. Too many depraved minds across the world are willing to spend exorbitant sums of cash to procure a part of an animal or even the animal alive. Reasons could be many-for medicinal use, as items of decoration, or for sheer entertainment ‘value’ of having them as a pet

It is not just the large animals who are caught in the mesh of internet-savvy poachers. Did you know some of the most traded animals in the world are small animals like snakes, butterflies and beetles; with their trade (live or body parts) running into millions of dollars every year across the globe?

Take photographs without disturbing wildlife. Celebrate it. Do go ahead and post these photos on your social networking sites and encourage people to help save them.

But please never put specific locations on those posts. With so many species vulnerable and on the brink of extinction, it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure we safeguard them from those determined to profit from them, come what may.

Next time, you see a photo of wildlife with the geo-coordinates/exact location, do your civic duty and ask them to remove the details, if not the photo itself!

Share this with as many people as you can. Spread awareness and help save what remains of our wildlife.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Small clawed otter skin seized in Himachal Pradesh
Small clawed otter skin seized in Himachal Pradesh

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Himachal Pradesh Police, assisted by IFAW-WTI team, seized nine otter skins from a trader in the first week of June 2014 in the town of Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. One accused, Shivram, was arrested. It was later revealed that his father and brother had been arrested earlier trying to sell wildlife articles in Siliguri, a town in West Bengal close to international borders with Nepal and a gateway to northeast Indian states that further lead on to other neighbouring countries.

Shivram’s father had been arrested in July 2013 in Siliguri with 70 kgs of pangolin scales, along with six accomplices from Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu indicating a country-wide nexus, and one from Nepal. Last month, his brother was arrested from Siliguri along with leopard skins, bones and otter skins. The operation to nab Shivram began with information collected by the WCCB on the accused trying to sell wildlife parts. The IFAW-WTI team was roped in to assist in the operation.

Led by the WCCB, the operation was strategized along with SIU team members to nab the culprit red-handed with the items. The operation was a complex one as Shivram was wary and kept changing locations within three adjoining Indian states. Despite this, the authorities diligently followed the leads and carefully set the trap with the arrest taking place on June 7th evening. Shivram has been booked under the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and remanded to police custody.

The skins belonged to Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cineria), a species that is listed under Schedule I granting it the highest level of protection under Indian law. If convicted, Shivram stands to serve up to seven years in prison.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary
Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary

Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, adjacent to Periyar National Park in Kerala and Srivilliputhur Tiger Reserve  in Tamil Nadu, forms an important landscape for tigers. The total area spans 1800 sq km and with Periyar as a viable breeding ground, Meghamalai (soon to be included in the network of Tiger Reserves in India) becomes a habitat capable of providing suitable environment for a healthy population of tigers. 

Anti-snare patrolling activities were begun around October 2013 in the fringe areas of the Meghamalai WLS. Within the first two months, the patrolling team recovered 36 snares and also apprehended a poacher before he could enter the sanctuary. During a routine night patrol, the team encountered a poacher armed with a loaded rifle in the fringe areas of the Gudalur range. During interrogation, he confessed to having poached a sambar (Rusa unicolor), a major prey species for the tigers, and selling its meat four days earlier. He has been charged under the appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code. 

Snares have become a bane in many national parks around the country with a number of wildlife deaths attributed to them. Infamous for being one of the slowest and most agonising killers of wildlife, the crude simplicity of the mechanism involved has made it a popular weapon for a number of communities involved in the hunting and trade of ‘bush meat’ around the country. 

Though the snare is usually set up to trap wild boar, sambar and deer, popularly known as ‘bush meat’, there have been many instances of larger animals, like tigers and leopards, getting caught in these snares and dying a horrible death. Since snares are usually put in a large number to maximise the chances of prey being caught, regular patrolling by trained personnel in the target areas is the only way to maintain snare-free national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Poacher arrested in Meghamalai WLS
Poacher arrested in Meghamalai WLS
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Dale Singh leading the team into the forest
Dale Singh leading the team into the forest

Author’s Note:  The episode narrated below is based on a real incident. The location and some specifics of the occurrence have been withheld on request.

“It will take at least ten more minutes to reach the spot where the traps are hidden,” Dale Singh said to the forest guard.

Fifteen kilometres inside one of the tiger reserves, where tigers, leopards, elephants freely roam, I was part of a search party out on a mission to recover tiger traps hidden by a four-member gang of tiger poachers, who had been detained by the forest department earlier in the day. Dale Singh was a member of the gang, leading the way for us, with his hand chained to the forest guard, taking us down the same path he had taken with his gang a few days ago to set the traps to hunt tigers. These traps were deadly jaw traps, capable of crushing a tiger’s limb once caught in it, with no way to pull out usually leaving it to die a slow painful death.

Having been on the track for a few hours now, we decided to take a break. Dale Singh was granted his unrelenting request of a bidi (a local unfiltered rolled cigarette) and he sat on a boulder nervously smoking it, his eyes flitting from one person to another.

We started talking about one of the other suspects, Jagdish, who had tried to pull a Houdini, slipping his hand through the cuffs and trying to run away. His mistake was underestimating the width of the Elephant Proof Trench. Re-captured within minutes, he was promptly blindfolded, hand-cuffed, very carefully, and taken away. A silence descended upon us, after the last guffaw had died down at Jagdish’s audacity.

“Hope we don’t have surprises in the form of poachers waiting to ambush us at the trap spot,” said one of the search party members, breaking the silence and echoing the thought running through my head at that very moment. It was a rule of thumb – never trust a tiger hunter, especially a nervous, detained one leading you deep inside the forest.

All the four suspects belong to one of the most notorious tiger poaching gangs currently present in India. They are traditional tiger hunters who cater to the illegal market in the country, which is further linked to the international market. They move across the country in various disguises, mostly adorning the facade of street vendors, setting up camps near tiger reserves. Once the camp is set up, the men break off into small groups and infiltrate tiger habitats. These poachers are renowned for their extraordinary tracking skills, and the ease with which they locate tiger tracks and place the deadly jaw traps bang in the path of the tigers. The operation may take them any amount of time, and these hunters determined as they are stay put inside the forest, till they get what they came for – a tiger. Once they manage to trap their prized possession, they spear it in the mouth, swiftly kill it and remove the skin. The body is usually buried within the forest and they come back in a few days to recover the bones, which are also in high demand in various illegal markets.

We decided to cut the break short and go back to locating the traps and the suspect’s camp site. We had barely walked a few kilometres in, through the dry river bed, when Dale Singh stopped suddenly and pointed to two large boulders, after scanning the right side of the river. “We camped here for two days, between those boulders,” he said. “The leg trap and utensils are hidden on the left side of the boulders.” When we looked from the river bed, we couldn’t spot anything unusual around the boulders. With a tree growing on one side, the top boulder was resting innocently on the bottom one, with no sign of a camp anywhere. We decided it was prudent to divide the search party into two, to have a backup in case of any trouble. Dale Singh led the way as we climbed up to the boulders and it was only when we reached could we see the remains of the camp. There were remains of a fire place, with a couple of match boxes scattered around, battery covers and a few pieces of papers strewn about. Nothing sufficient to indicate that four people had camped here day and night for at least a couple of days.

Dale Singh nonchalantly asked us if he should get the utensils and trap out. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought he was quite enjoying himself playing the all important tour guide showing us the ruins of a battle well valiantly and proudly fought.

Throwing him a look, I pulled out my camera to record every minute after that. I needed to make sure I never forgot what was happening here. Dale sat on the ground, leaned towards the edge of the boulder and removed some dry leaves and a small stone covered under that. There was small opening underneath it and, like a warped Mary Poppins, started pulling things out of it. By the time he was halfway through, there in front of us sat a steel vessel, a frying pan, a few spoons, wheat flour, salt, masala powder packets, amongst many other packets and pouches. Needless to say we were stunned. One of the guards blurted while scratching his head, “Looks like he kept everything here, except for this wife and children!”

Finally Dale Singh pulled out the tiger trap, which was neatly covered in a plastic bag. A perfectly manufactured piece, with a high quality finishing, it was the signatory jaw trap of the tigers hunters of central and north India. Jaw traps like these are manufactured by specialised blacksmiths who only supply these high quality products to the hunting communities.

Taking another smoking break Dale Singh quietly sat, puffing away watching us without much concern on his face. The nervousness had replaced his demeanour with a complacency that seemed to indicate his acceptance of this day as just a stroke of bad luck.

We had now been on the track for more than six hours and we were tired, walking on an empty stomach and less than three hours of sleep. We decided to take a break, after informing the base camp about the tiger trap and sending them an urgent request for some food and water!

With that out of the way, I turned my attention to the tiger poacher. I knew this was a rare situation. Who knew when it I would get to sit with another tiger poacher, caught red handed with his weapons inside a forest and seemingly willing to talk! I had to break the ice and get him to open up.

“So, game over, boss?” I asked Dale Singh in a low voice, as I sat next to him. Dale Singh stared at me for a few seconds, with his deep grey eyes and then a faint smile broke on his face. Far from being scared, he seemed partly amused.

“It was simply my bad luck that I got caught. Otherwise, we would have gone back with what we came for and no one would have even caught a whiff.” With every syllable, the smile on his face grew broader and more arrogant. He was mocking me and the entire system.

Flicking an insect off his knee, he casually asked me if I could get him some water and more bidis.  A guard indulged him and shared his water bottle and bidi with him. Dale smoked in silence for a while, staring into the distance. He brazenly then asked for his chain to be loosened, so that he can sit comfortably on the sand bank. Though his request was granted, the team was alert in case he decided to make a run for it.

With a sigh, he turned his head towards me and started talking...

Demonstrating how to use a jaw trap
Demonstrating how to use a jaw trap
Hiding place for supplies during a poaching trip
Hiding place for supplies during a poaching trip
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Wildlife Trust of India

Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Monica Verma
Noida, Uttar Pradesh India
$87,119 raised of $90,000 goal
 
1,628 donations
$2,881 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Wildlife Trust of India has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.