In the last 100 years, tiger populations have plummeted 97% to only 3,200 individuals due to habitat destruction and overhunting. Once found in 30 countries across Asia, today tigers are found only in scattered fragments across 12 countries, in less than 7% of their historical range. With the endangered Asian elephant sharing the same shrinking habitat, protecting India's remaining wild places is essential to the future of these two iconic species.
India's Western Ghats are home to the world's largest Asian elephant population (over 5,000) and its second largest tiger population (over 300). Tigers and elephants are dependent on protected areas for their survival due to immense habitat loss from the expansion of India's human population. Unfortunately, India's protected areas are honeycombed with settlements within their boundaries, which pose a threat to wildlife as they fragment habitat, compete for prey, and are a source of poachers.
There is a win-win solution: The majority of these communities want to move out of protected areas as they are impoverished and marooned from India's economic development and their homes and fields suffer from conflict with wildlife. With the Government of India, WCS is assisting with a voluntary relocation program to move these communities outside of protected areas, where there are more opportunities for improved livelihoods, while also freeing these wild places from human impacts.
WCS seeks to raise $40,000 to purchase 5 acres of tiger and elephant habitat to be annexed to a key wildlife sanctuary in the Western Ghats. The purchase of these lands dramatically reduces the threats of poaching, road development, and human-wildlife conflict in a full 40 square miles, over half the size of the sanctuary. It will also significantly reduce the number of human settlements in the park, while offering better economic opportunities to these local communities.