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.
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