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Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict

by Tigers4Ever
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Water for Bandhavgarh's Tigers - Reducing Conflict
Tiger in the Shade as the Temperatures Rise
Tiger in the Shade as the Temperatures Rise

It’s Almost Drought Season Again

Wow, it’s February already! It doesn’t seem five minutes since Christmas and New Year but if we’ve learnt one thing over the last ten years, it is that every day brings a new challenge in wild tiger conservation; and because of this time really does fly by. I can’t start this project report, without thanking you all for your amazing support during our GivingTuesday and YearEnd fundraising campaigns. We know that Christmas is one of the most expensive times of year for many people, but your generosity has enabled us to raise £587.76 (US$774.49) for our waterhole project alone!

In December, we conducted surveys out at the two potential waterhole sites mentioned in our last report, and the good news is that both are suitable for solar-powered bore-well systems to provide year round water for wild tigers and other wildlife. As February progresses, the average daily temperatures increase and with the hotter days, the rivers, streams, pools, lakes and other surface water locations start to dry out. Deer, which are native prey for wild tigers, need drinking water to help with the digestion of their herbivorous diet. When the natural water resources are dry, the deer will often wander into the villages in search of drinking water from the puddles which surround the village wells. The deer, unfortunately, don’t stop at just drinking water, because the forest grasslands have become parched and leaves from the trees have dried and fallen to the ground, so the deer see the crops in the villages as a new source of food.

It is not uncommon for villagers to lose up to 37% of their annual income from the loss of crops raided by these herbivores (PLOS One Article). Sadly, the human-animal conflict doesn’t stop at crop raiding, as predators follow their prey into the villages and when the deer run away the domesticated livestock just stand in the paddocks and fields continuing to graze, they are oblivious to the fact that they are now on the menu; and in the blink of an eye a cow, bullock, goat, etc., is taken for the predator’s next meal. Easy pickings, these animals don’t run away! The tigers and leopards now have new prey! It is so easy to hunt these animals which don’t run away so why bother chasing deer or wild boar? Some unfortunate villagers lose up to 48% of their livestock to habitual predators annually! A frightening statistic of human-animal conflict and one, which if not addressed, will threaten the future existence of wild tigers in the area.

Our waterholes seek to reduce this risk, if we can provide year round water for the prey animals; we can keep them out of the villages and reduce the risk of them raiding crops; but not only that, we can also reduce the risk of tigers and leopards following their prey into the villages and taking livestock instead. If the villagers don’t suffer excessive losses due to human-animal conflict, they are far more likely to accept living with wild tigers and other animals on the fringes of their homes. Thus it is more likely that wild tigers will have wild futures.

It is more than a year since we completed our last wildlife waterhole project, and although this is helping to keep up to 33 tigers including cubs away from the villages, but we still need to do something about the remaining two thirds of the wild tiger population to ensure that we can give them wild futures too. Over the last year, we have been working very hard to try to find a collaborative partner to help us deliver more waterholes in a shorter period of time, although we are making some progress in this area, we still need the help of our loyal supporters to help us deliver our next waterhole project. Without your help we won’t be able to start work on our next waterhole before the drought season takes hold. It is a lot to ask but if everyone who received this project report donated £260 (US$350) each we would be able to start work on our next waterhole within a month. We know that some of you are runners, swimmers and keen cyclists and as the weather improves you’ll be keen to get out more so could we ask you to become a Tigers4Ever fundraiser https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=34315 and ask your friends, work colleagues and family to donate to your fundraiser in lieu of sponsoring your activity, please? Remember, once a tiger becomes a habitualised predator of domestic livestock it will create human-tiger conflict with every kill and every angry farmer will only tolerate so much, so by delivering more waterholes we are reducing this risk and improving the long term survival chances of wild tigers in Bandhavgarh.

In recent years, the hot drier weather has been arriving earlier and earlier; rivers and streams which once had a healthy flow of water until late February have dried up before January drew to a close. Lakes and ponds are also beginning to dry up, as plentiful water is replaced by long sandy banks leading to either a small puddle or a dry sandy basin. As the dry season takes hold, human-animal conflict will increases day by day as herbivores enter the villages in search of water and feast on the crops whilst there. Predators will inevitably follow and kill the livestock which lacks the instinct to run away. If it happens just once, the farmers and villagers who suffer the loss might be appeased by the compensation, but it will set a precedent for the wildlife which has discovered an easy source of food and thus angry humans are moved to take matters into their own hands. Some villagers who lose almost everything to these raids, set wire snares and traps to stop future raids, whilst others poison the carcasses of their dead livestock to kill the tigers or leopards (and their cubs) when they return to finish their meals.

Our experience tells us that prevention is better than compensation and our permanent wildlife waterholes provide a means of prevention. When prey animals have adequate water resources inside the protected areas of the national park they don’t need to enter the villages to search for it. Likewise, if the prey hasn’t wandered away the predators will have plenty of food nearby and won’t need to enter the villages to look for it. By providing year round water, we help to keep wildlife including tigers away from traps and snares; AND eliminate retaliatory poisonings by villagers disgruntled by the loss of their livestock. There will always be exceptions but by keeping these to a minimum and working with the authorities to ensure the villagers receive prompt and adequate compensation, we are keeping wild tigers alive.

It is five months until the start of the monsoon rains, when these water sources will replenish naturally, in the interim tigers and their prey will be dependent on the waterholes sourced from underground streams and wells, but tiger-tiger conflict is an issue too. Tigers find themselves competing for the same prey at the same waterholes and when there is insufficient to go round, tigers will fight each other for prey, for territory, for a mate, or just for dominance. These fights are often short but brutal and it is not uncommon for one tiger to die from the inflicted wounds. We don’t want to seem like it is all doom and gloom, but we have to face facts we are witnessing an unprecedented cub survival rate right now which means that tiger numbers are at the highest for over 30 years, but tigers need space, prey and water to flourish. Together we can give them what they need if we can deliver up to ten more permanent waterholes, starting with the next.

To date, we have raised £2871 (US$3790) of our £10560 (US$13250) target to complete our next waterhole so we really need your help to enable us to start work before the drought takes hold and human-animal conflict becomes the norm. It is a huge ask, especially after Christmas, but if each of our supporters could help us to raise £260 (US$350) each then we could start work on our next waterhole which could benefit up to 16 wild tigers including cubs in next few weeks. Each £400 (US$500) donation helps us to fund 6% of a solar-powered pump system to bring underground water to the surface for wild tigers. Without these funds, starting this vital work will be delayed and we will be at the mercy of the weather as to when the natural water resources run dry. The good news is that GlobalGiving’s Little By Little Campaign is on the way (23-27 March 2020), and any new unique donations up to £38 (US$50) which we receive online during the campaign for our waterhole project at: https://goto.gg/34315 will qualify for a matched funding bonus of 50% during that week (on donations above £38/US$50 will receive 50% matched bonus funds to a maximum of $25 throughout the campaign). There are also bonus prizes to be won for the projects with the most unique donors and most funds raised, but we need 20+ unique donors to qualify for one of these.

We know that not everyone can afford a large donation but we don’t want you to feel like you can’t help; every donation which we receive will have an impact for wild tigers no matter how large or small the donation is. So please, don’t hesitate to help, the drought season will take hold before we know it and without water wild tigers lives will be at risk. Please also share our project link: https://goto.gg/34315 with your family, friends, colleagues and especially when you are posting on social media.

We will continue our quest to find a major donor or project sponsor, in the meantime, but have no fear, if we find a major donor and achieve our fundraising target we’ll be able to build not one but two permanent wildlife waterholes before the 2020 drought season takes hold.

All our waterholes are constructed with the environment in mind; we use solar powered pumps to avoid water tankers polluting the jungle; and soak away systems to ensure excess water returns to its underground source. So by helping us to provide drinking water for wild tigers you’re also helping to reduce the impact of climate change and g to reduce human-animal conflict in the jungles of central India:https://goto.gg/34315.

Thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which you are helping us to keep 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.

Young Tiger with a Deer Kill
Young Tiger with a Deer Kill

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Tigers like to sit in waterholes in the dry season
Tigers like to sit in waterholes in the dry season

Winter Challenges

Thank you for your continued amazing support for our projects to give wild tigers a wild future. Without you, more than 90% of what we achieve would be impossible. For our supporters in the USA who will be celebrating Thanksgiving on 28 November 2019 and those in Canada who celebrated on 14 October 2019, you will know that it is a time when people come together and celebrate the joy of giving and of being together in good health. In India too, the joy of giving was celebrated during Daan Utsav (02 – 08 October 2019). Those who celebrate (or celebrated) these festivals know just how important it is to reflect on what you can do or say to help others and the importance of saying thank you. We want to do the same by saying thank you for thinking about Tigers4Ever, thank you for helping us to save wild tigers and thank you on behalf of the wild tigers whose numbers have doubled since we started our work back in June 2010.

This year on Giving Tuesday, 03 December 2019, we will be bringing our first podcast to the world to give everyone an update of Shashi’s story. Those of you who follow us on social media will know that we launched Shashi’s Story – “A day in the life of a wild tiger” on Global Tiger Day (29 July 2019). Shashi is one of three brothers made famous by the BBC series “Tiger Dynasties” in late 2017, son of the Rajbehra female and Bamera, this young male tiger has to find his place in the jungle and to avoid conflict with humans and other tigers. Every day is a challenge for a sub-adult male tiger and our series of five podcasts will narrate the new challenges which Shashi must face to become an alpha male. Keep an eye on our website https://tigers4ever.org/ and our social media channels for further announcements about the launch of our podcasts: “Shashi – Tiger Encounters” over the next few days.

Like Shashi, the wild tigers of Bandhavgarh will face new challenges over the coming weeks as winter arrives in the jungle. With it, comes overnight and early morning temperatures near freezing and early morning mists which provide a little extra cover for wild tigers wishing to sneak up on their prey. It makes difficult conditions for our anti-poaching patrollers too as the freezing temperatures bite to the core and early morning mists bring increased dangers due to reduced visibility. This, however, is a report about our waterhole project and the need to address the impending shortage of water for wildlife with the dry season will bring as winter ebbs away into Summer (you may recall that the jungles of Bandhavgarh don’t experience Spring). In recent years, the hot drier weather has been arriving earlier and earlier; rivers and streams which once had a healthy flow of water until late February are now drying out before January draws to a close. The same is happening in lakes and ponds, where plentiful water is soon replaced by sandy banks leading to a small puddle or even a dry sandy basin.

It is not just tigers who will need to find water over the five months until the monsoon rains arrive; it is their prey too. As the dry season takes hold, human-animal conflict increases day by day as herbivores enter the villages in search of water and feast on the crops whilst there. Predators inevitably follow and when the natural prey flee the scene tigers and leopards take livestock which lack the instinct to run away. If it happened just once, the farmers and villagers who suffer the loss might be appeased by the compensation, but it sets a precedent for the wildlife which has discovered an easy source of food and thus angry humans are moved to take matters into their own hands. Some villagers who lose almost everything to these raids, set wire snares and traps to stop future raids, whilst others poison the carcasses of their dead livestock to kill the tiger or leopard (and their cubs) when they return to finish their meal…..

In our experience, prevention is better than compensation and our permanent wildlife waterholes are part of the prevention solution. If prey animals have adequate water resources inside the protected areas of the national park then they don’t need to enter the villages in search for it. Likewise, if the prey hasn’t wandered away the predators have a plentiful food supply on hand and don’t need to enter the villages in a desperate search for food. So by providing year round water, we are helping to keep wildlife including tigers away from traps and snares; AND eliminating retaliatory poisonings by villagers disgruntled by the loss of their livestock. There will always be exceptions but by keeping these to minimum levels and working with the authorities to ensure the villagers receive prompt and adequate compensation, we are keeping wild tigers alive.

We are currently working closely with the forest department which has recently concluded its mapping of all water resources around Bandhavgarh including underground streams and wells, artificial constructed seasonal waterholes and natural water resources. This is valuable information and is used to help us, in conjunction with surveyors and reports from the forest patrollers, determine the priority needs for our current and future waterhole projects. We include in our weighting the total number of predators, including tigers, most likely to benefit from a permanent waterhole at a particular site, as well as knowledge of human-animal and tiger-tiger conflicts within the area. These factors help us to focus our attention on delivering the right solution at the right time, subject to available funds, of course.

To date, we have raised £2192 (US$2750) of our £10560 (US$13250) target to complete our next waterhole project so we really need your help to enable us to start work before natural water resources dry up and human-animal conflict becomes rife. It is a huge ask, especially with Christmas on the way but if 21 of our supporters could help us to raise £400 (US$500) each then we could start work on our next waterhole which could benefit up to 16 wild tigers including cubs in next few weeks. Each £400 (US$500) donation helps us to fund 6% of a solar-powered pump system to bring underground water to the surface for wild tigers. Without these funds, starting this vital work will be delayed and we will be at the mercy of the weather as to when the natural water resources run dry. The good news is that #GivingTuesday (03 December 2019) is almost upon us, and any donations which we receive on that day to our waterhole project at: https://goto.gg/34315 will qualify for a share of a matched funding bonus (on donations up to $1000). The matched funds bonus will be proportionally shared between all the projects receiving donations via GlobalGiving on that day which will be dependent upon the total funds raised. However, all donations (up to $1000) received will qualify for a share of the bonus and all bonus funds received will help us to reach our target quicker. There are also bonus prizes to be won for the projects with the most unique donors and most funds raised, but we need 20+ unique donors to qualify for one of these.

We know that not everyone can afford such a large donation so all donations are more than welcome no matter how large or small. Some of you will even be going green this Christmas and donating to charity in lieu of sending Christmas cards, if you are doing this and encouraging your friends to do the same, let us see whether we can get some momentum going by sharing #GiveATigerADrink4Xmas & #TigersNeedXmasDrinksToo on your social media channels, don’t forget to share our link: https://goto.gg/34315 with your post.

We are still trying to find a major donor or project sponsor in the interim, but if we achieve our target and find a major donor we’ll be able to build not one but two permanent wildlife waterholes before the drought season takes hold.

Remember all our waterholes are constructed with the environment in mind; we use solar powered pumps to avoid water tankers polluting the jungle and soak away systems to ensure excess water returns to its underground source. So by helping us to provide drinking water for wild tigers you’re helping to reduce the impacts of climate change and reducing human-animal conflict in the jungles of central India:https://goto.gg/34315.

Thank you on behalf of the wild tigers, which you are helping us to keep 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. May I take this opportunity to wish those of you who celebrate it a very Merry Christmas, and to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

Early morning mists lifting over Bandhavgarh
Early morning mists lifting over Bandhavgarh

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Tigress & 2 cubs playing in Tigers4Ever Waterhole
Tigress & 2 cubs playing in Tigers4Ever Waterhole

It may seem a little strange that two months into the monsoon period, when 99.9% of all the annual rainfall in Bandhavgarh occurs, we are talking about preparing for the next drought. Well, our experience over the last four years tells us that it is essential that we do so. In fact, we are nine weeks into the monsoon period and so far there has been just 760mm (just under 30 inches) of rainfall which is less than half of that which is expected across the 13 week period with only four more weeks to go. So we need to prepare ourselves just in case, like in 2018, there is no rainfall again in September.

Right now, rivers and streams are replenished; but they are not overflowing or bursting their banks, as has recently been seen here in the UK! It is a different story, however, for the lakes, ponds and other waterholes which are yet to reach full capacity, save for those waterholes with a solar borehole pump like the Tigers4Ever waterholes at Rajbehra, Sukhi Patiha and Arharia, which are full right now. We are grateful for the help of all our supporters without whom we couldn’t have made these waterholes possible. Waterholes like ours continue to be invaluable for tigers and other wildlife especially following poor monsoon rainfall.

If the September monsoon rains are poor, we would expect to see natural water sources such as rivers, streams and small ponds beginning to run dry before the end of this year. Wild animals, including tigers, will then start to feel the impact of the drought from January onwards. Secure in the knowledge that, thanks to your help, up to 33 tigers, (including cubs) and their prey will benefit from water in the seven waterholes serviced by our borehole pumps in Tala (2 large and 2 smaller waterholes); and in Magdhi (1 large and 2 small – medium waterholes). Now though, we must consider the other 70 plus tigers, their cubs and their prey and how they will be impacted by the next drought.

We have identified a location at the crossroads of the territories of 3 alpha male tigers where we know that there are two females each with 3 cubs and another female who is expecting cubs, plus four other tigers which would benefit from the provision of a permanent year round supply of water. There is currently a large natural waterhole and a smaller man-made waterhole near to the site. Both of these are currently filled by water tankers throughout the dry season. The problem with this is if the 16 plus tigers become habitualised to the tankers, and lose their instinctive fear of human vehicles, something which would ultimately make them more vulnerable to poaching. We are currently trying to establish the suitability of this site for a solar powered borehole pump to remove the need for these tankers. If the underground water table isn’t close enough to the surface we will look at an alternative location close by which will also mean that we will need to construct a new waterhole too. Please help us to make this possible by donating now at: https://goto.gg/34315, thank you.

We have also been asked to help provide a solar powered borehole pump system at another large waterhole currently used by 11 plus tigers including cubs. Again this waterhole is filled by water tankers as the natural sources dry up. To install solar powered borehole pump systems at these two waterholes will cost us up to £18750 (US$25125) dependent on the depth of the bore-well. If we need to construct a new waterhole, in addition, the cost of the combined project rises to £21625 (US$28980), so we have quite some way to go before we can help to protect another 23 plus tigers with the provision of permanent year-round water. We have also identified two further locations, where there is currently neither a natural water source nor man-made waterholes, where we would like to build future waterholes for wild tigers. It is our long term objective to ensure that every wild tiger in Bandhavgarh will have access to permanent year round water.

In an ideal world, we would commence work on our next major waterhole project at the beginning of October 2019, but we are someway short of our fundraising target to do this so we will be actively fundraising for this project during Daan Utsav (the Indian equivalent of Giving Tuesday) at the beginning of October, and throughout the period leading up to this. If you can help by donating anything at all it would be much appreciated: https://goto.gg/34315 remember that every £20 (US$26) donated will help us to drill 2 metres (79 inches) of bore-well to help us reach the underground water table.

There has also been a nineties themed concert/disco arranged in Porthcawl on the 08 November 2019 to raise funds for Tigers4Ever’s waterhole and anti-poaching patrol projects, so we are hoping that this will be well attended by our supporters in South Wales. Tickets are priced at £10 each plus the booking fee and are available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/back-to-the-90s-dance-party-tickets-69630166703 if anyone wishes to purchase one or more and go along.

Since we launched our campaign to provide permanent water resources for tigers and other wildlife fourteen months ago we’ve managed to raise £1770 ($2372) of our £10,560 ($14,000) target. Our existing waterholes are providing year-round permanent water for just under a third of the wild tigers in Bandhavgarhplus countless other wildlife but we would still like to ensure that every wild tiger in Bandhavgarh has access to safe drinking water year round. At present our focus is on providing the next waterhole in a critical need area to help more than 16 tigers including cubs, and to bring the total number of tigers helped to close to fifty. If we are to ensure that the wild tigers have water before the onset of the drought season then we need to construct the next waterhole before the end of 2019; for this to happen we need to raise sufficient funds before the end of October which means that we need another £8790 (US$11628) in the next eight weeks to make this possible.

Climate change is impacting Bandhavgarh every year now, with shorter drier monsoon periods and longer extreme drought conditions being just two of the annual events seen over the last five years. The unseen consequences of climate change include the impact on tigers and their prey when natural water sources dry up. Herbivores (the main prey of tigers) can delay breeding because the conditions to support new-borns are not ideal, which over time impacts prey numbers thus reducing the availability of food for a growing tiger population and ultimately leading to increased human-tiger and tiger-tiger conflict. Thus, permanent water resources for wildlife are fundamental in the fight to reduce human-animal conflict. Without this, prey animals enter the villages in search of water and, whilst there, consume precious crops. Tigers and leopards naturally follow their prey into the villages as they hunt for food, but when the prey runs, the tigers kill domestic livestock, which doesn’t run. Once tigers find easy prey such as livestock, they have a tendency to return to the village over and over again in search of easy meals…. Human-tiger conflict results and the tigers (and their cubs) are at increased risk of retaliatory poisoning, from disgruntled farmers, who seek to prevent this recurring.

Since the 2019 monsoon began we have already seen 3 tigers die in Bandhavgarh as a result of tiger-tiger conflict: an intruding male attacked the cubs of another male in order to mate with their mother, however, the tigress returned to the scene as the male was attacking the second cub defending it with her life. The tigress and the first cub died almost immediately, but the second cub survived for a few weeks and received assistance from the vet but sadly died from his injuries just a week later. This was just the latest in a series of battles to keep the cubs alive that this tigress had had, and sadly due to limited water sources in her territory she came into frequent conflict with other tigers…..

You have probably seen the recent tiger census results in the international press and media, with India’s wild tiger population up by a third. Good news indeed, conservation efforts are working, however, this increase needs to be sustained and even extended if wild tigers are to have a genuine chance of a wild future. The quieter side of the story didn’t make as many headlines; sadly, in the same four years in which the wild tiger population has grown there has also been a four percent loss of wild tiger habitat. The result is that tigers have lost more than 94% of their native habitat in the last 100 years!

Now we face a new challenge in protecting the increasing wild tiger population in Bandhavgarh; we need to ensure that there is sufficient water year round to sustain the growing tiger population and its prey base. Our waterholes continue to be of critical importance in reducing human-animal conflict, but now they must also help to reduce tiger-tiger conflict before the hot dry season arrives https://goto.gg/34315.

With the lives of 32 wild tigers including cubs already being saved by the permanent wildlife waterholes we funded, with your help, between February 2018 and June 2019, we now have the opportunity to increase this number to 47 tigers saved. This would be amazing as it is almost half the current number of tigers in Bandhavgarh. We have already identified the potential site for our next waterhole project, where there are limited natural water sources and an abundance of tigers. Providing such a permanent wildlife waterhole could save the lives of 16 plus wild tigers in addition to countless other wild animals which form their prey base and share their forest home. Tiger numbers in Bandhavgarh are on the increase, but as mentioned in our previous reports, territorial space is at a premium and tiger-tiger conflict is becoming more frequent. It means that we need to act now to ensure that adequate water is available to sustain an appropriate prey-base without the need for tigers to increase the size of their territories in search of food. We’re also looking at other ways to reduce human-animal conflict through projects to restore depleted tiger habitat, including tree planting which will complement our current waterhole project: https://goto.gg/34315. These projects will need time to help to stabilise prey numbers and lead to future young tigers needing smaller territories. So for now, we are focussing on what we can do to make the most difference this year.

We hope we can build upon the success we’ve already seen with our existing waterholes by funding at least one more waterhole before the end of 2019, but we cannot do this without your help. We need to raise £8790 (US$11628) in the next eight weeks to make this possible. 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. Even if you can only afford a single donation, why not donate now, and if you are a UK taxpayer you can make your donation worth 25% more to Tigers4Ever at no extra cost to you by adding Gift Aid at: https://goto.gg/34315.

If you feel able to help to make a difference for these precious wild tigers: £20/US$26 could help us to drill 2 metres (79 inches) of borehole, whilst £75/US$107 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 us 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.

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One of 4 Waterholes being filled by our Solar Pump
One of 4 Waterholes being filled by our Solar Pump

In the last three months there hasn’t been any rainfall at all in Bandhavgarh, one by one the natural water sources such as rivers and streams have run dry. Every year, the drought season seems to be getting longer whilst the monsoon rains are getting shorter and lighter. Climate change is certainly evident right now in wild tiger territory. Thankfully, our efforts over the last 18 months have ensured that wild tigers and the other animals which share their forest home have permanent year round water supplies even when the rivers have run dry.

Our representatives in India recently spoke to a crew of filmmakers in Bandhavgarh who told them that without the Tigers4Ever waterholes they wouldn’t have seen any tigers to film over the last two months. It is good news that our waterholes have helped the filmmakers to get footage to bring wild tigers into your living rooms but more importantly it is better news that for 32 wild tigers and countless other wild animals we have helped to reduce human-animal conflict. Our waterholes have kept the tigers and other animals out of the villages where they would eat livestock and crops respectively, and importantly at this time of year, as peak poaching season approaches, our waterholes are helping to keep tigers and other animals safe from poachers’ snares and traps and would be poisoners.

In our last report, we told you how the solar powered borehole pump which we installed in the Tala Zone of Bandhavgarh National park was working so well that was filling two waterholes simultaneously, well the news is even better. We recently learnt that our solar powered borehole pump is so efficient that it is currently filling two additional waterholes simultaneously bring the total number of waterholes benefitting from our latest project to four. These additional waterholes are within 1km (0.6 miles) of the pump, but nonetheless are providing much needed water for wildlife in this period of extended drought. This continues to give greater availability of water for wild tigers and their prey including one tigress and her four cubs we mentioned in our last report. This is especially important as the cubs grow because she needs to kill large prey frequently and the waterholes ensure that there is plenty around. We recently learnt that she had killed seven large prey animals over a period of days which meant 6 tigers including the cubs’ father didn’t go hungry. This also helps to avoid tiger-tiger conflict from encroachment into other tiger territories and keeps her cubs safe. The more waterholes we can provide for wild tigers and other wildlife the more chance we have of reducing human-animal conflict as the drought season takes hold, too.

Since our last report on our waterhole project we have received £620 (US$830) in new donations so we are starting to look for the next permanent wildlife waterhole location in Bandhavgarh, whilst we continue to raise funds which will enable work to start.

We launched our campaign to provide permanent water resources for tigers and other wildlife eleven months ago and have managed to raise £1128 ($1457) of our £10,560 ($14,000) target and the hot dry season has really taken hold with daytime temperatures already exceeding 48°C (118.4°F) and natural water sources dry. Our four waterholes in the Tala range plus the two waterholes constructed this time last year in the Magdhi range are now providing year-round permanent water for just under a third of the total number of wild tigers in Bandhavgarhplus countless other wildlife. In time we would like to ensure that every wild tiger in Bandhavgarh has access to safe drinking water year round, but for now we are focussing on providing another waterhole in a critical need area which will help up to 15 tigers including their cubs, bringing the total number of tigers helped to 47. Ideally we would like to construct this waterhole before the end of 2019 but in order to do this we must raise sufficient funds before the end of September but we still need to raise another £9432 (US$12543) in the current campaign to make this possible.

The effects of climate change are even more evident in Bandhavgarh right now, with shorter drier monsoon periods and longer extreme drought conditions being just two of the annual events. There are other consequences of this for tigers too, as natural water sources dry up, herbivores delay breeding because the conditions to support new-borns are not ideal, in time this will impact the tigers’ prey-base reducing food availability for a growing tiger population and ultimately leading to increased human-tiger conflict. In other parts of India, there have been increasing numbers of reports of tiger deaths due to tiger-tiger territorial conflict and tiger cannibalism in one national park where tigers have killed and eaten up to 17 other tigers in 2019 alone. We want to act now before the impacts of climate change and harsh conditions affect Bandhavgarh’s animal population too, but to make a real difference which will count we will need your help.   

Permanent water resources for wildlife are essential for reducing human-animal conflict; as water disappears, prey animals enter villages in search of water and consume precious crops. Predators, such as tigers and leopards follow the prey into the villages as they hunt for food, but when the prey runs away tigers kill domestic livestock, which doesn’t runaway instead. Once a tiger has found easy prey such as livestock 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 increased risk of retaliatory poisoning, from disgruntled farmers, as a counter-measure to prevent this recurring. We need to ensure that the increasing population of wild tigers in Bandhavgarh has sufficient water year round to sustain it and its prey base. Our waterholes for wild tigers and other wildlife continue to be of critical importance in reducing human-animal conflict, especially as the hot dry season takes hold.

With the lives of 32 wild tigers including cubs already being saved by the permanent wildlife waterholes we funded between February 2018 and June 2019, we now have the opportunity, with your help, to increase this number to 47 tigers saved, which would be amazing as it is almost half the current number of tigers in Bandhavgarh. We have already identified a potential site for our next waterhole project, where there are limited natural water sources but an abundance of tigers exists, as 2 tigresses with young cubs have neighbouring territories and it could additionally help up to reduce tiger-tiger conflict between four dominant male tigers who’s territories are precariously close to each other. Providing such a permanent wildlife waterhole could save the lives of 15 plus wild tigers in addition to countless other wild animals which form their prey base and share their forest home.

Tiger numbers in Bandhavgarh are on the increase due to improved cub survival rates, but as mentioned in our previous reports, territorial space is at a premium and tiger-tiger conflict is becoming more frequent. It means that we need to ensure that adequate water is available to sustain an appropriate prey-base without the need for tigers to increase the size of their territories in search of food. We’re also looking at other ways to reduce human-animal conflict through projects to restore depleted tiger habitat, including tree planting which will complement our current waterhole project: https://goto.gg/34315. These projects will need time to help to stabilise prey numbers and lead to future young tigers needing smaller territories. So for now, we are focussing on what we can do to make the most difference this year. We hope we can build upon the success we’ve already seen with the waterholes funded in 2018 and 2019 by funding at least one more waterhole before the end of 2019, but we cannot do this without the funds to complete the work. We need to raise sufficient funds before the end of September which means another £9432 (US$12543) in the current campaign to make this possible. 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. Even if you can only afford a single donation, why not donate now, and if you are a UK taxpayer you can make your donation worth 25% more to Tigers4Ever at no extra cost to you by adding Gift Aid at: https://goto.gg/34315.

If you feel able to help 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$107 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.

Tigress & Cubs in Tigers4Ever Waterhole
Tigress & Cubs in Tigers4Ever Waterhole
Tiger cub scent-marks Tigers4Ever Waterhole Sign
Tiger cub scent-marks Tigers4Ever Waterhole Sign

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Tigers like this survive because of our waterhole
Tigers like this survive because of our waterhole

So much has happened in the last three months since our last report on this waterhole project that it is difficult to know where to start. Sadly we haven’t received any new donations this year so we have been working entirely from funds raised in 2018, a little like the weather in Bandhavgarh where the dry season is underway, the donations pot has also run dry so future projects are on hold for now. That’s the bad news out of the way, so now for the good news especially for the wild tigers and their cubs….

The solar powered borehole pump which we installed in the Tala zone of Bandhavgarh National park is working so well that it has capacity to fill two waterholes simultaneously. With that in mind, we revised our plan to construct a dry-lined core at the centre of the existing waterhole in favour of building a new large waterhole (50 metres x 30 metres x 2.5 metres deep) on the opposite side of the wall from the existing waterhole which continues to be services by the same solar powered system. This gives a greater availability of water for wild tigers and their prey which is especially important for one tigress and her four cubs because it helps to avoid tiger-tiger conflict and keeps her cubs safe. The more waterholes we can provide for wild tigers and other wildlife the more chance we have of reducing human-animal conflict as the drought season takes hold, too.

I am delighted to say that despite some unseasonable thunderstorms in the last week, work at the second waterhole is complete. We have lined the waterhole with loam soil which is better at retaining the water during the hot dry weather and provides a natural lining to the new waterhole which allows any excess water to return to underground springs via soak-away systems. This also ensures that our waterhole has been constructed in the most environmentally friendly manner so as to have minimum impact on the forest’s natural resources. Furthermore, we have constructed the banking surrounding the waterhole from excavated soil and materials from the waterhole pit and constructed channels between the two waterholes to aid filling of the second waterhole from any surpluses in the original first waterhole. We have used locally sourced labour (both men and women) in the construction of our waterholes, which in turn provides much needed employment in the rural community around Bandhavgarh and ensures that the workers and their families have a vested interest in the long term survival of wild tigers.

This larger waterhole cost us more than we had planned for the smaller dry-lined waterhole (£3860 (US$5000) as opposed to £1770 ($2330) to complete the construction, in addition to solar borehole pump costs) which has left our project funds severely depleted.

We launched our campaign to provide permanent water resources for tigers and other wildlife eight months ago and have managed to raise £487 ($628) of our £10,560 ($14,000) target and the hot dry season is already upon us with daytime temperatures already passing 35°C (95°F) and natural water sources already running dry. Our two waterholes in the Tala range plus the two waterholes constructed this time last year in the Magdhi range are now providing year-round permanent water for a total of 32 wild tigers including cubs plus countless other wildlife, which is around a third of the total number of wild tigers in Bandhavgarh.

In time we would like to ensure that every wild tiger in Bandhavgarh has access to safe drinking water year round, but for now we must focus on providing another waterhole in a critical need area which will help up to 15 tigers including their cubs. Ideally we would like to construct this waterhole before the end of 2019 but in order to do this we must raise sufficient funds before the end of September but we still need to raise another £10073 (US$13372) in the current campaign to make this possible. Every year, the effects of climate change are more evident in Bandhavgarh with shorter drier monsoon periods and longer extreme drought conditions being just two of the frequently occurring events these days. There are other consequences of this for tigers too, as natural water sources dry up the herbivore populations delay breeding because the conditions to support new-borns are not ideal, in time this will impact the tigers’ prey-base reducing food availability for a growing tiger population. In other parts of India, there have been recent reports of increased tiger deaths due to tiger-tiger territorial conflict and even reports of tiger cannibalism in one national park where tigers have killed and eaten 5 other tigers in 2019 alone. We want to act now before the impacts of climate change and harsh conditions affect Bandhavgarh’s animal population too, but to make the difference count we need your help.    

Those of you familiar with our previous report will remember that we mentioned the wildlife programme “Tiger Dynasties” which followed the lives of the Rajbehra tiger family in Bandhavgarh; and that the main waterhole in their territory became dry. Our December 2018 waterhole project ensured that there will now be year round water in the main waterhole for Rajbehra’s cubs, whilst our new waterhole is helping the other star tigress in the programme: Solo, to raise her new cubs.

Permanent water resources for wildlife are essential for reducing human-animal conflict; as water disappears, prey animals enter the villages in search of water and consume the precious crops whilst there. Predators, such as tigers and leopards inevitably follow the prey into the villages as they look for food, but when the prey runs away the tigers kill domestic livestock instead. 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 as a counter-measure to prevent this recurring. To reduce human-animal conflict, our waterholes for wild tigers and other wildlife are of critical importance especially as the hot dry season is already upon us.

The permanent wildlife waterholes we funded between February 2018 and March 2019 have already helped to save the lives of 32 wild tigers including cubs, with your help we can help to save to lives of up to 47 tigers which would be quite an achievement in itself. We have already identified another possible site for our next 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.

Tiger numbers in Bandhavgarh are on the increase due to improved cub survival rates, but as mentioned in our previous report, territorial space is at a premium and tiger-tiger conflict is becoming a more frequent occurrence. This means that we need to ensure that adequate water is available to sustain an appropriate prey-base without the need for tigers to increase the size of their territories in search of food. We also need to look at other ways to reduce human-animal conflict through projects to restore depleted tiger habitat, including tree planting which will complement our current waterhole project: https://goto.gg/34315. These projects will need time to help to stabilise prey numbers and lead to future young tigers needing smaller territories. So for now, we are focussing on what we can do to make the most difference this year. We hope we can build upon the success we’ve already seen with the waterholes funded in 2018 by funding at least one more waterhole before the end of 2019, but we cannot do this without the funds to complete the work. We need to raise sufficient funds before the end of September which means another £10073 (US$13372) in the current campaign to make this work possible. 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. Even if you can only afford a single donation, why not donate on the 08 April 2019 (from 09:00 EDT/14:00 BST) when GlobalGiving will be offering 60% in matched funds making your £20 (US$26) donation worth £32 (US$43) at no extra cost to you: https://goto.gg/34315

If you feel able to help 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.

Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded new large Waterhole
Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded new large Waterhole

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Tigers4Ever

Location: Warrington - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Tigers4Ever2010
Project Leader:
Corinne Taylor-Smith
Dr
Warrington, United Kingdom
$3,851 raised of $14,000 goal
 
65 donations
$10,149 to go
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