Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers

by Tigers4Ever
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Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Saving Bandhavgarh's Wild Tigers from Poachers
Mist and fog make it difficult to see wildlife
Mist and fog make it difficult to see wildlife

Happy New Year to you all, I hope that it has started well and that you’re sticking to your new year’s resolutions, if you made them? January is always a time when we set out all the things that we’d like to happen in the coming year, and we’re no different at Tigers4Ever. Of course, the underlying objective of giving wild tigers a wild future remains the same but we reflect on what we have done in the previous year and see what needs to change to address the challenges we will face over the next 12 months. Thank to everyone who donated during our GivingTuesday and Year End fundraising campaigns, the money raised together with bonus matched funds will help us to keep our anti-poaching patrols protecting wild tigers throughout January and February 2020.

We don’t like to go on about the weather but Bandhavgarh has been experiencing some of the coldest days and nights on record for over a month now. I was somewhat shocked to learn just a few days ago that the overnight temperature in the north of England was more than double the similar temperature in Bandhavgarh. I definitely don’t like the cold, as I am sure that many of you feel the same? We were pleased therefore to have added warm thick jumpers and jackets to our patrollers uniforms in late 2018. The brave men and women who risk their lives to protect the wild tigers certainly need their warm clothing right now. A donation of just £15/US$20 can buy a thick warm jacket to protect our patrollers from the freezing temperatures during their night and early morning patrols (https://goto.gg/28767). Daytime temperatures are beginning to increase but it is nowhere near as warm as usual for this time of year. The last time we experienced a similar cold snap to this was in 2018 when it was followed by extreme heat, drought and some of the highest temperatures on record throughout February – the end of June. Our wildlife waterholes will be an essential component for wild tiger conservation if this extreme drought period repeats again in 2020; you can learn more about how our waterholes sustain wildlife and reduce human-animal conflict here:https://www.GlobalGiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/.

You magnificent support throughout the course of this project has helped us to achieve 91.5% of our fundraising total, with £8791 of £9600 (US$11502 of US$12550) raised. The challenges we will face over the coming months will be very different from the end of 2019 because freezing cold overnight and early morning temperatures and fog will play a big part in increasing the dangers for both the wild tigers and our patrollers; but by the end of February with many natural water resources running dry wild animals will be more unpredictable as they search for water and food. It still seems strange to talk about freezing cold weather in the jungles of central India, but the reality is that in the last four years, early morning and late night temperatures have plummeted to a testing 0°C (32°F) and this year daytime temperatures are only reaching 20°C (68°F) instead of the usual 27°C (81°F) for this time of year. For those of us who live in a temperate climate like the UK or Canada/Northern USA, we probably think daytime temperatures of 20°C (68°F) aren’t bad at all for January, but imagine temperatures of 0°C (32°F), or below, overnight and no heating and things don’t seem so rosy anymore. Our patrollers don’t complain they are grateful to share a campfire with forest Department rangers at the forest lookout posts whilst they eat the hot nutritious meals which we provide for them whilst they are on duty. Did you know that for £40/US$54 it is possible to feed a team of anti-poaching patrollers with nutritious hot meals which they are on duty, something which is vital when they are patrolling for 12 hours in such cold conditions (https://goto.gg/28767). Often the rangers will share a cup of chai with our patrollers before joining them in the patrol of the nearby forest. By working together we can ensure that vital information about wildlife movements and miscreant activities are shared. This helps to enhance the safety of both Tigers4Ever patrollers and forest department rangers.

Study warm boots are like heavy coats essential wear for our Anti-Poaching Patrollers during the freezing cold night and early morning patrols. As the winter draws to a close, we will check the uniforms of our patrollers and replace worn out boots and clothing. Our patrollers are very good at making their equipment last, by repairing tears and snags in their uniforms throughout the year, but sometimes they will need new and that is when we need a few extra donations to help. A donation of just £114 (US$153) can help us to provide a full summer uniform and equipment for one patroller, this rises to £154 (US$208) if sturdy warm boots and a thick coat/jumper are also needed https://goto.gg/28767. We can all relate to how essential a warm coat and sturdy shoes are on a freezing cold night or morning….

In recent years, there has been a peak in miscreant activity following Christmas and New Year so our night patrollers have to be on high alert for illegal loggers and would be poachers moving around the forest under the cover of darkness. It is particularly important to eliminate both these risks before poachers have a chance to lay their traps and snares. Our patrollers are always keen to let miscreants know about the potential consequences of their activities on the wildlife, the forest and their own safety.

The early morning mists and fog, which are an increasing feature of the cold winter months in Bandhavgarh, also present challenges for our patrollers. These mists can sometimes linger for a few hours around dawn, until the sun is high enough in the sky and the temperatures have risen sufficiently for them to clear. Patrolling at this time has heightened risks because of reduced visibility for both the patrollers and the langur monkeys, who often sound the first alarm for an approaching predator such as a tiger or leopard. Extra care is also needed to ensure that our patrollers don’t inadvertently step into a trap or snare, set for wild animals, due to reduced visibility. The strong canes which we provide for our patrollers can prove vital during the early morning mists as they patrol through the lush vegetation. A donation of £20 (US$26) can help to provide a team of Anti-Poaching Patrollers with strong canes which they can use to check for traps and snares before they put their feet and legs at risk: https://goto.gg/28767. If you have read our earlier reports, you will know that tigers are crepuscular hunters, i.e. they usually hunt at dawn and dusk, which means that during the early morning mists they can use the natural blanket as extra camouflage as the sneak up on their prey. Our patrollers also have to be extra vigilant at this time of increased tiger activity not to suddenly interrupt a tiger with its kill or become accidental prey. At this time, our patrol vehicles play a key role in ensuring that our patrollers can escape to safety if a tiger suddenly appears from the early morning mists. A donation of £38 (US$50) can provide fuel and transport (including an emergency escape) for a team of patrollers for one day:  https://goto.gg/28767.

Each year, the success of our anti-poaching patrols has ensured that more tiger cubs are surviving to adulthood and thus tiger numbers have increased year on year. Since we started our first of its kind buffer zone anti-poaching patrols on 01 July 2015, we have witnessed a 97% reduction in wild tiger deaths due to poaching and elimination of wild tiger deaths due to retaliatory poisonings, whilst wild tiger numbers have almost doubled in the same period. This success means more work though, as there are now more tigers to protect. Every month, we receive requests to increase our patrolling, but we can’t do this with our current funding levels so we need your help. To meet the increased demand we need to raise an extra £125 (US$168) each month in addition to the £802 (US$1075) we currently need. We set up a parallel project https://goto.gg/34704 to cover the cost of our patrolling in 2019/2020, and we are still a long way short of our fundraising target for this too. Our fundraising efforts over the Year End Campaign (including Giving Tuesday) focussed on raising funds for our Anti-Poaching Patrols and it seems that we will have to step up our efforts in the first quarter of 2020 too. If you have given up something for January would you consider making a donation to our anti-poaching patrols https://goto.gg/28767) from the money you save? Or perhaps if you are trying to lose weight, get fit or targeting another personal goal you could set up a fundraising page at: https://www.GlobalGiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=34704 to help us to continue our vital patrolling throughout the next few months?

Finally, I would like to thank you all again for your continued amazing support and donations, which have not only enabled us to give wild tigers a wild future they have helped us to increase their numbers too. I know that many of you have Christmas to pay for in recent weeks, so if you can’t donate large amounts right now, perhaps you could consider a small donation each month instead at: https://www.GlobalGiving.org/projects/saving-bandhavgarhs-wild-tigers/?show=recurring, every little really does make a big difference for the wild tigers. I know that the wild tigers which you are helping us to keep safe can’t thank you themselves, so I am saying thank you on their behalf. Thank you also, on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi, Sandip and the rest of our anti-poaching patrol team.

Warm Jackets are Essential in Winter
Warm Jackets are Essential in Winter
Young Tigers in the Lush Undergrowth
Young Tigers in the Lush Undergrowth

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Tigers enjoying the lush meadows in Bandhavgarh
Tigers enjoying the lush meadows in Bandhavgarh

The monsoon rains have faded away leaving Bandhavgarh’s grasslands lush and green. The days are now mild and sunny but this won’t last long as the cold misty weather draws in around November-January. Before this, India will celebrate Diwali (the Festival of Lights) from 25 – 29 October, with the main celebrations on the night of the 27th. This is always a challenging time for our poaching patrols as revellers let off paper lanterns into the night sky which can cause forest fires.

You magnificent support throughout the course of this project has helped us to achieve 90% of our fundraising total, with £8306 of £9588 (US$10871 of US$12550) raised. The challenges we will face over the coming months will be very different from during the monsoon rains because cold and early morning mists will play a big part in increasing the dangers for both the wild tigers and our patrollers. It seems strange to talk about cold weather in the jungles of central India, but the reality is that in the last four years, early morning and late night temperatures have plummeted to a testing 0°C (32°F) from daytime mild temperatures of around 27°C (81°F), which can be quite a challenge in itself. Study warm boots and heavy coats are not often seen in rural central India but become essential wear for our Anti-Poaching Patrollers over the next few months. Each year, we have to check the uniforms and see what we need to replace, our patrollers are very good at making their equipment last, by repairing tears and snags in their uniforms throughout the year, but sometimes they will need new. A donation of just £40 (US$52) can help us to provide these much needed essential equipment items for one patroller when they need them most https://goto.gg/28767. We all know how much difference a warm coat and sturdy shoes can make on a cold frosty morning….

During the Diwali festivities our patrollers will also need to be on high alert as revellers often wander into the forest to continue their partying. Albeit that their intent is to enjoy the festival, their actions can lead to all kinds of disturbance to the wildlife, and when they light campfires or paper lanterns these can lead to serious forest fires. Our night patrolling during the festivities is particularly important to eliminate both these risks and the risk that poachers could try to slip into the forest as revellers and whilst there lay traps and snares. Sometimes dealing with drunken revellers in the forest can present its own challenges, especially when they are in large groups. Thankfully, in most cases, the revellers just want to continue their partying and will move on or return to their villages when prompted to do so. Our patrollers are always keen to let them know about the potential consequences of their activities on the wildlife, the forest and their own safety.

The early morning mists, which are a feature of winter in Bandhavgarh, also present their own challenges for our patrollers. These mists can sometimes linger for a few hours around dawn, until the sun is high enough in the sky and the temperatures have risen sufficiently for them to clear. Patrolling at this time has heightened risks because our reduced visibility for both the patrollers and the langur monkeys who often sound the first alarm for an approaching predator such as a tiger or leopard. Extra care is also needed to ensure that our patrollers don’t inadvertently step into a trap or snare, set for wild animals, due to reduced visibility. The strong canes which we provide for our patrollers can prove vital during the early morning mists as they patrol through the lush vegetation. A donation of £20 (US$26) can help to provide a team of Anti-Poaching Patrollers with strong canes which they can use to check for traps and snares before they put their feet and legs at risk: https://goto.gg/28767. Tigers are crepuscular hunters, meaning that they tend to hunt at dawn and dusk, which means that during the early morning mists they can use the natural blanket as extra camouflage as the sneak up on their prey. Our patrollers also have to be extra vigilant at this time of increased tiger activity not to suddenly interrupt a tiger with its kill or become accidental prey. At this time, our patrol vehicles play a key role in ensuring that our patrollers can escape to safety if a tiger suddenly appears from the early morning mists. A donation of £38 (US$50) can provide fuel and transport (including an emergency escape) for a team of patrollers for one day:  https://goto.gg/28767.

Each year, the success of our anti-poaching patrols has ensured that more tiger cubs are surviving to adulthood and thus tiger numbers have increased year on year. Since we started our first of its kind buffer zone anti-poaching patrols on 01 July 2015, we have witnessed a 96% reduction in wild tiger deaths due to poaching and elimination of wild tiger deaths due to retaliatory poisonings, whilst wild tiger numbers have almost doubled in the same period. This success means more work though, as there are now more tigers to protect. Every month, we receive requests to increase our patrolling, but we can’t do this without your help. To meet this increased demand we would need to raise an extra £125 (US$168) each month in addition to the £802 (US$1075) we currently need. We set up a parallel project https://goto.gg/34704 to cover the cost of our patrolling in 2019/2020, where we are a long way short of our fundraising target and will focus our fundraising efforts over the next few months. If you are doing #Stoptober or #Movember and looking for a charity to support during your campaign, perhaps you would consider setting up a fundraiser page at: https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=34704 to help us to continue our vital patrolling throughout the winter months?

Finally, I would like to thank you all again for your continued amazing support and donations, which have not only enabled us to give wild tigers a wild future they have helped us to increase their numbers too. I know that many of you have Halloween (did you know that the UK spends £475 million and the USA spends US$7.5 billion annually on Halloween?) and Christmas to pay for in the coming weeks, so if you can’t donate large amounts right now, perhaps you could consider a small donation each month at: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/saving-bandhavgarhs-wild-tigers/?show=recurring, every little really does make a big difference for the wild tigers. I know that the wild tigers which you are helping us to keep safe can’t thank you themselves, so I am saying thank you on their behalf. Thank you also, on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi and the rest of our anti-poaching patrol team.

Tigers like to sleep at the base of trees
Tigers like to sleep at the base of trees

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Young Male Tiger on Alert
Young Male Tiger on Alert

The hot dry season came to an abrupt end in the last week of June, with the first sustained deluge of rainfall which signified the onset of the 2019 monsoon season. It brought some much needed respite from the searing heat and high humidity which had made conditions extremely difficult for all since the end of May. With the rains came the inevitable thunderstorms and trees being felled with periodic regularity by lightning. This is quite a dangerous time for our patrollers, not just because the onset of the monsoon brings with it the start of peak poaching season, but because of the dangerous weather conditions in which our patrollers work. It is not uncommon for rivers and streams to break their banks with the sudden rapid swell which can occur within minutes of the rain starting. We have seen first-hand how a dry river or dusty road can become fast flowing rapids within as little as 10 minutes. Cyclists literally have to dismount and carry their bikes above their heads as they wade through thigh deep water. It is not uncommon for even the four-wheel drive jeeps, used for transport by our anti-poaching patrol teams, to aquaplane in the mud. Visibility is also dramatically reduced during the rains to little more than a few feet (<1 metre), which means that our patrollers must be permanently on high alert for a whole spectrum of dangers.

Miscreant activity always increases during the monsoon rains too, this is partly due to the difficulties patrollers have covering the same distances in the usual time (due to difficult conditions) and partly due to the fact that they think that they less likely to be caught because their footprints are washed away by the heavy rains. It is for these reasons that we ideally like to double our patrolling during the monsoon period, but this is of course only possible if we have funds to cover the extra patrolling. With double patrolling we can cover greater areas to ensure that we are protecting all the areas where Bandhavgarh’s 100+ tigers need to roam freely and safely. Despite a big push to raise funds in the lead up to the monsoon period, and a 50% reduction in patrolling for May and June, to ensure that we could afford to patrol during the monsoon months we have only been able to increase our patrolling by 66% during July.

The 29 July (Global Tiger Day) brought the confirmation of the news we had been anticipating for some time (we already knew that Bandhavgarh’s wild tiger numbers have almost doubled) that wild tiger numbers across the whole of India are up by 33% bring the total number of tigers to 2967 from 2226 at the 2014 census. This increase means that there are inevitably more tigers wandering further afield in search of new territories to call their own. The incidence of tiger-tiger conflict is becoming a more frequent occurrence and in order to sustain these wild tiger numbers many things need to happen and quickly. Firstly, the destruction of wildlife habitat must stop immediately: our patrollers play a key role in this by apprehending miscreants in the forest who are illegally grazing their livestock; woodcutting; logging or stealing areas of land to claim for agriculture. This is a first line defence and is widely acknowledged as a major contributor to the recovery of wild tiger populations. On a larger scale we need to put the case for the tigers to politicians who make decisions to destroy wildlife habitat for industrial schemes and projects. Coal mining is still carried out on a large scale in India and many mines impact wildlife (including tiger) habitat due to open cast mines and the building of roads and railways to move the harvested coal. We must state the case for cleaner greener energy alternatives and the climate protective aspects of planting more trees instead of chopping down the existing forests. India is all too aware of the devastating effects of extreme weather with cyclone Fani sweeping through the heart of India just a few months ago whilst Kaziranga in Assam is currently under a metre (39 inches) of water for the second successive year with hundreds of animals including wild tigers drowned. We now must make the politicians see the true value of nature including wild tigers before it is really too late. Finally, we are looking at projects which have a direct impact on human-tiger and tiger-tiger conflict, like our waterhole project: https://goto.gg/34315 where we have an ambitious aim to raise the remaining £8810 (US$11805) by October 2019 so that we can increase the number of locations with permanent year round water for wildlife and thus enable animals to manage with smaller territories. Alongside this project, we are currently evaluating tree planting programmes to help recover tiger habitat lost to fires and illegal logging. We will also look to other organisations with similar goals to see if it is possible to jointly plant safe wildlife corridors to enhance the survival chances of sub-adult male tigers which disperse in search of new territories and females to mate.  

Back to the now: As the monsoon rains continue to fall, it is bringing much needed life to the parched forest with new leaves and grasses in abundance. The monsoon season also brings a rise in activity in other parts of the forest with poisonous snakes and biting insects at their height of activity. A conversation with the Field Director a short time ago revealed that this period is one of the most dangerous for forest department patrollers as around 20 each year die from snake bites. Scorpions are also highly active during the monsoon rains and patrollers need to be extra vigilant especially when performing foot patrols. A few years ago, we tried to obtain snake-proofed socks for the patrollers but we couldn’t find a supplier who had any which were not made in China and would be suitable for use in the Indian jungle, the search goes on. In the meantime, all Tigers4Ever patrollers are trained in what to do if they encounter a snake or scorpion; we provide an emergency medical fund in case anyone is bitten and needs anti-venom, and provide them with bright head-torches, sturdy boots and canes to check where they intend to walk. Mosquitoes are also a particular problem at this time of year, especially those carrying infectious diseases such as malaria.

We would of course like to double our patrolling in each of August and September to keep this growing population of wild tigers safe, especially from the increased miscreant activity; higher risk of retaliatory poisoning. To make this possible we’d like to raise £1000 (US$1340) next week (starting 12 August) as this is the start of the GlobalGiving “Little by Little” bonus matched funds campaign when we can earn a 60% bonus in matched funds on donations up to US$50 (£40) making US$50 worth US$80 (£64) at no extra cost to the donor. Donations above $50 (£40) will still qualify for bonus matched funds at 60%, but this will be limited to the first $50 (£40) of your donation. So if you want to make a big impact for wild tigers with a small donation there couldn’t be a better time to donate: https://goto.gg/28767.  

It is with some urgency that we therefore ask if you could spare a few pounds (dollars or euros) after reading this letter to ensure that we can double our patrolling before the poachers strike in Bandhavgarh: https://goto.gg/28767 we really want to ensure that the 41 plus tiny tiger cubs which we are currently aware of, can grow up safely; and that their parents will be around to protect them whilst they grow. Your donation of £20 (US$26) will help us to pay a team of brave patrollers to protect wild tigers for a day and will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a real difference. It is almost 23 months since the last wild tiger was poached in Bandhavgarh (which happened when we couldn’t double our patrols) and it is 50 months since the last retaliatory poisoning of a wild tiger in Bandhavgarh, which is a great achievement on the part of our patrollers. We hope that we can now raise sufficient funds to keep this exemplary record going.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for your continued amazing support and donations, which have not only enabled us to give wild tigers a wild future they have helped us to increase their numbers too. I know that many of you have holidays/vacations to pay for, so if you can’t donate £20/US$26 right now, please feel free to donate whatever you can afford, every little really does make a big difference. I know that the wild tigers which we are keeping safe can’t thank you themselves, so I would like to thank you on their behalf; on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table). I would also like to thank you on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi and our patrolling team.

Tigress & cub share an intimate moment
Tigress & cub share an intimate moment
Alpha male tiger with chittal kill
Alpha male tiger with chittal kill

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Tigers4Ever Patrollers at a Firebreak Barrier
Tigers4Ever Patrollers at a Firebreak Barrier

The hot dry season is into its third month already and despite a recent scare from the passing Cyclone Fani, Bandhavgarh has seen very little rain for months. The rivers and streams have long since run dry whilst reservoirs and lakes are at an annual low. The four waterholes funded by Tigers4Ever in the last two and a half years are providing much needed respite for the parched land and thirsty animals. It is good news that up to 34 wild tigers including cubs are benefitting from these waterholes on a daily basis, as these waterholes are a key component in reducing human-animal conflict. More waterholes are still needed and we are trying to raise sufficient funds over the next few months to ensure that we can build at least one more waterhole before the drought season begins in 2020. You can read more about our waterhole project progress here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/reports/#menu.

The good news for Bandhavgarh is that more and more cubs have survived to adulthood since we started our Anti-Poaching Patrolling back in July 2015; even better news is the number of tigers with cubs right now with more than 36 young tigers growing up in pristine tiger habitat. It is hard work for the tiger mums to raise their youngsters, especially at this time of year when the forest is parched and there is little food for their herbivore prey. The tinder dry leaves on the forest floor can spontaneously combust in the heat leading to devastating forest fires in which young frightened cubs can perish. Only last year, an experienced tigress lost all four of her 6 week old cubs when a forest fire took hold whilst she was out hunting. The inexperienced cubs were caught in the centre of the flames and by the time the tigress returned it was too late for her tiny offspring. A stark reminder of how precious every tiger cub is and how important preventing the spread of forest fires is to ensuring the future of a healthy tiger population. For this reason our patrollers have been actively involved in forest fire prevention and fire fighting since March.

Our patrollers are always on the lookout for warning signs like an unattended camp or cooking fire, a carelessly discarded cigarette, littering in the forest or the early signs of a natural fire due to parched vegetation. When a fire is spotted, the patrollers quickly mobilise to the area calling for support from forest department rangers en-route, if it appears that the fire will spread (due to windy conditions and the location of the fire) then the first task is to light and extinguish firebreaks which will limit the spread of the raging fire. The second stage is to extinguish the flames as quickly as possible before there is a change in wind direction which would turn the fire away from the firebreaks. By creating these fire boundaries, our patrollers increase the survival chances of the wildlife in the burning forest giving them an escape route to safety. Many trees, plants and insects are still casualties of these forest fires but limiting the spread of the fire will save thousands of animals including tigers every time.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, around the Tigers4Ever waterholes and other water bodies which still have some natural water left, the vegetation provides much needed food for the herbivores, and in turn the tigers who need to hunt to feed themselves and their hungry cubs. It will be at least 7 weeks before the onset of the monsoon rains rejuvenates the parched landscape and brings new life to the forest; in the meantime our patrollers continue to be on high alert for fire-fighting duties. It means that no two days are the same for our tiger protectors and that each problem they face is just a solution waiting to be found. We are eternally grateful for the bravery and ingenuity of our patrollers as they carry out their duties to keep wild tigers safe, and when we ask them if they are afraid they simply reply: “No, not of the forest, not of the tigers, it is the humans we fear most because they are the ones who are unpredictable and can be violent!” It certainly makes you think!

I know that some of you have been following the reports about our Senior Anti-Poaching Patroller, Ravi, who was beaten up by poachers towards the end of 2018. Although, the perpetrators are now behind bars, Ravi still suffers each day from the pain of his fractured eye socket and skull, he has currently taken some time off to seek specialist help at the hospital in Jabalpur. We’ve sent him our best wishes for a speedy recovery and I’m sure that we all want to see him fit, healthy and back protecting Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers again as soon as he is able.

Before our next project report, peak poaching season will already be upon us. We already know that we need to be on high alert at this time of year, which is why we try to double our patrols during the monsoon period. This year, the poachers have started early, only yesterday we heard that a young tigress had been electrocuted in a tethered snare near Satna, in the Satpura Tiger Reserve, some 150 miles northwest of Bandhavgarh. This news was devastating in its own right but it was the third snaring of a tiger in addition to a leopard snaring in the same area in the last two weeks. 150 miles away is far too close for comfort, so we’re already asking our patrollers to be on high alert for new miscreant or suspicious activity and tethered snare traps. It is with some urgency that we therefore ask if you could spare £20/US$26 after reading this letter to ensure that we can double our patrolling before these poachers strike in Bandhavgarh: https://goto.gg/28767 we really want to ensure that the 36 plus tiny tiger cubs grow up safely; and that their parents are around to protect them whilst they grow. Your donation will help us to pay a team of brave patrollers to protect wild tigers for a day and will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a real difference today. It will soon be 20 months since the last tiger was poached in Bandhavgarh which together with our record of 47 months without a retaliatory poisoning is a great achievement on the part of our patrollers. We hope that we can raise sufficient funds to keep this exemplary record going.

I can’t sign off without thanking you all for your continued amazing support and donations, which enable us to give wild tigers a wild future. I know that many of you will have holidays/vacations to pay for right now, so if you can’t donate £20/US$26 right now, please feel free to donate whatever you can afford, every little really does make a big difference. Finally, I would like to thank you again on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table). I would also like to thank you on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi and our patrolling team.

Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded natural Waterhole
Tigers at Tigers4Ever funded natural Waterhole

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Tigress with 4 Tiny Cubs
Tigress with 4 Tiny Cubs

Wow, it is almost March already. 2019 is going quickly and so much has happened since our last project report it is difficult to know where to start.

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for your continued amazing support and donations, without which we would be unable to give wild tigers a wild future. I know that many of you will have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get fit, do dry January, do veganuary, etc., with possibly differing levels of success and stick-ability. Congratulations to all of you who have kept going.

Our New Year’s resolution is a bit perpetual: every year we say that we want to do more to give wild tigers a wild future, and every year we set out our plans. 2019 is no different. We want to increase our Anti-Poaching Patrols because the number of wild tigers we’re currently protecting has increased by 25% with the birth of 5 litters of new cubs. The patter of tiny paws in Bandhavgarh is certainly a welcome sight. It also increases the likelihood of human-animal conflict as the onset of the hot dry weather depletes natural water resources leading wildlife to enter the villages in search of water and food. We are delighted to say that our waterhole project is going really well to combat this by providing year-round water for 34 wild tigers (including cubs) and thousands of other animals which share the tigers’ forest home. Just this week, we received news from our team in India, that work to complete a second large waterhole to be served by the solar borehole pump we installed in December 2018 is nearing completion. This will ensure that at least 15 tigers will have access to water in an area completely ravaged by drought in the last 3 years. The primary waterhole at our latest site has a plentiful supply of water thank to the Tigers4Ever solar pump (in February 2018, the same area was dry which forced the Rajbehra family of tigers into the villages, as seen in the BBC wildlife documentary – Dynasties). You can find out more about our waterhole project here: https://goto.gg/34315 we will be producing an update report in the next few weeks once we have photos of the latest waterhole with water in it.

We also plan to combat the effects of climate change through a tree planting project which will also help to replenish lost tiger and wildlife habitat ravaged by years of illegal logging and wood-cutting. We will be working closely with the community on this initiative so that they will see just how long it takes for teak trees to grow and why constantly harvesting wood from the forest will bring the herbivores into their villages in search of food. At present, we are evaluating the benefits of seed planting versus the planting of saplings, and discussing the probable locations for the first plantings. Large areas of the forest have been destroyed by fires in the last three years and we would like to do something to replenish these areas too if funds permit. We hope to launch this project in time for the GlobalGiving Climate Fund Campaign in April.

Enough about our plans, for now though. I am sure that like us you will be delighted to hear that the gang of poachers who attacked and beat up our Senior Anti-Poaching Patroller, Ravi, have been caught, charged and are now behind bars. Knowing that these individuals are incarcerated in prison means that the tigers and their young cubs are safer too. It will soon be 17 months since the last tiger was poached in Bandhavgarh which together with our record of 44 months without a retaliatory poisoning is a great achievement on the part of our patrollers. We hope that we can raise sufficient funds to keep this exemplary record going.

As the drought season and peak poaching season approach, we fear that we will have to further reduce our patrolling to bring our costs down. I know that this will increase the risk of wild tigers being poached but we have little choice. In December 2017, we set a fundraising target of £8704 (US$ 11663) to cover the cost of our patrolling from 01 March 2018 – 28 February 2019 (inclusive), but we are still £1555 (US$2084) short of this target and our funding reserves have been depleted by under-pinning the cost of our Anti-Poaching Patrols in the last 3 months (as mentioned in the last newsletter). Our costs have also been impacted by exchange rate variability between the UK£ and the US$ (donations received) and the UK£ and the Indian Rupee (project costs). We launched our campaign to raise funds for our 2019 Anti-Poaching Patrolling (from 01 March 2019 – 29 February 2020, inclusive) three months early in 2018 (https://goto.gg/34704) to try to address the fundraising deficit, and keep our patrols protecting wild tigers. Funds raised for the 2019 project, however, are also well below our target with only sufficient funds to cover one month’s patrolling raised to date. In February 2019, we were forced to implement a 20% reduction in our patrolling, so that we could cover costs from the funds raised to date and our depleted reserves; now we must ask 62 of our supporters if they could donate £25 (US$34) each so we can continue our patrolling for the next two months. Please help if you can by donating at: https://goto.gg/28767 and help us to keep wild tigers safe.

Without the vital funds we now need, we will have no option other than to call time on our Anti-Poaching Patrol project which has been so successful since we started patrolling in July 2015 leading to an increase in wild tiger numbers from 55 (July 2015) to more than 100 (including cubs) by the end of January 2019. I hope that you will be able to help and we can continue to work together to keep wild tigers safe throughout 2019. Remember all donations can make a big difference to our wild tiger conservation efforts no matter how large or small (https://goto.gg/28767).

We still have a few 2019 Tigers4Ever calendars which are now half price at £5 plus P&P in our online shop: http://www.tigers4ever.org/onlineshop.html while stocks last. Remember that the tiger family featured in BBC “Tiger Dynasties” documentary appear in the months of April, August and November, and Solo (now a mother to four cubs of her own) was the February 2019 tiger of the month. All profits from calendar sales will be used to help us keep wild tigers safe.

Finally, I would like to thank you again on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the patrollers we are keeping in work (and their families who have food on the table). I would also like to thank you on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing food/uniforms/equipment for our patrols and from the safety/education advice given by Deepak, Prahlad, Vidya, Ravi and our patrolling team.

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Organization Information

Tigers4Ever

Location: Warrington - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Tigers4Ever2010
Project Leader:
Corinne Taylor-Smith
Dr
Warrington, Cheshire United Kingdom
$45,492 raised of $70,500 goal
 
1,041 donations
$25,008 to go
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