A Lot Has Happened
Thank you for your amazing support throughout the first quarter of 2023. Your donations have helped us to provide education packs for another 120 children living with wild tigers bringing the total in just over a year to 820 children helped. This makes a huge difference to the rural Indian families whose children are still reeling from the impacts of the COVID pandemic. This continues to be increasingly important because we are unable to resurrect the pop-up nature schools for children without access to state schools due to the continued lack of volunteer teachers. With the help of grant funding, we have been able to provide equipment for schools in the current quarter meaning that the learning experience will also improve in the classroom too. We continue to look for new solutions to help those children without access to schooling and hope to develop audio and visual learning materials as part of our project initiatives too. The safety education materials are at first design stage and we’re currently sourcing translations into local languages/Hindi to help us deliver the messages via illustrations and script. Your continued generosity means that 120 more children have education packs with essential writing materials so they can learn to read, write and protect their forest home and give wild tigers a wild future.
It has been a busy time
In the last week, we have delivered desks and seating for 100 children to a school in Damna village. These children, in year 4 – 9 age groups, had previously been sitting on the floor for their lessons. This was something which was both challenging and sometimes dangerous, especially in the rainy season when venomous snakes are highly active. We were able to provide these desks and seating thanks to grant funding from the B C Mehta (Fable and Mane) Trust, which also helped us to provide 120 school backpacks with education packs for the children at the school in Damna village, Bandhavgarh.
Since our last report, we have also distributed education packs to children in the villages in the Dhamokhar Buffer zone, where the families have been hardest hit by human-wildlife conflict. These education packs are carried by our Anti-poaching patrols and distributed where they have encountered hardship due to crop losses, elephant damage or livestock losses. Supplies of these education packs are now low and our next objective will be to raise funds for replenishing stocks of education packs, plus for the new elements of our education projects (see below). The lack of education in some of the rural communities around Bandhavgarh continues to be a concern for us.
This year we have witnessed an increase in human-wildlife conflict, injuries and even deaths due to a lack of understanding of basic safety protocols coupled with an increased dependency on scarce forest resource. Human-Tiger conflict has resulted in the deaths of two villagers in the last three weeks, as the mahua picking season started. During the first quarter of 2023 there were three further tiger attacks, one of which killed a young boy, and another put a senior Ranger and tiger protector in hospital. Human-Elephant conflict was also very high in the last quarter of 2022, as wild elephants raided crops, destroyed buildings and attacked whatever was in their path. These elephants arrived in Bandhavgarh just a few years ago when mining activity in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh state drove these magnificent animals from their native home into pastures new. It’s not surprising that they have a dislike of humans given their reason for coming to Bandhavgarh. Nonetheless, if the elephants, like the wild tigers, are to have long term futures in Bandhavgarh, it is essential that the human and wildlife communities can live together in harmony.
New and Different Educational Resources are Needed
In order to improve both education and safety, plus restore harmony where human-wildlife conflict exists, we are producing safety and awareness handouts to be issued by our anti-poaching patrols when they encounter humans in the forest. These simple handouts will provide advice in pictures, Hindi and English, for animal encounters including tigers, leopards, elephants and snakes. It is hoped that the villagers will in time recognise the words as well as the images and take notice of safety notices posted at the entrances to the forest too. These vital educational resources are currently being translated so they can be finalised, printed (locally in Bandhavgarh) and laminated prior to distribution. This will also provide some much needed employment for local daily wagers in Bandhavgarh. We hope that with these resources we can save human lives, and thus reduce the risk of retaliatory attacks on wildlife thereby maintaining the ecological balance.
Our Anti-Poaching patrols are also carrying training materials which we hope will change the way that mahua flowers are collected by the villagers. Currently villagers burn the foliage around the mahua trees to stimulate the dropping of the flowers and making the flowers easier to see amongst the burnt embers. Often these fires get out of control with devastating consequences for both the forest and the animals within it. More than one third of pristine forest habitat has been ravaged by forest fires in recent years, something which is having consequences for both the wildlife and human populations. Mahua collectors enter the forest in the early morning twilight, which is when tigers are actively hunting, as the villagers crawl on the forest floor collecting freshly fallen mahua flowers, they can be mistaken for prey animals and tigers can attack. Safety cards will warn the villagers against this dangerous habit as it is safer for them to collect mahua after sunrise.
Our patrolling teams are now carrying collection netting which they demonstrate to the mahua collectors they encounter. These simple nets can be tied beneath, around or between mahua trees in the afternoon and left overnight to collect the falling flowers the next morning. With the netting there is no need to burn the ground foliage as the flowers are collected in the nets, this reduces the risk of forest fires getting out of control and destroying precious wildlife habitat. It also reduces the risk of human-tiger conflict because the flowers can be collected by gathering up the net and resetting it in daylight when the tigers are less active. These simple nets are a low-cost option but many of the mahua collectors will be unable to afford them without help, therefore Tigers4Ever will try to raise funds to subsidise the issue of these nets to the villagers in the interest of reducing forest fires and retaliatory attacks on wild tigers. If you wish to help us provide mahua collection nets for training, a donation of £10 (US$14) will help us to provide 3 nets.
The Record so Far
When we donated 120 education packs at the school in Damna it increased the number of children living with wild tigers which Tigers4Ever has helped to 3135. The number of villages helped has also increased to 32, including those in the Dhamokhar buffer. This is amazing considering it seemed almost impossible this time last year.
We want to continue this valuable project across as many villages as possible and to help all the children who otherwise wouldn’t have chance to go to school. In order to do this we will need to raise funds for many more education packs, safety resources and nets to protect the forest from fires. If you’re able to help us do this, please donate now, even the smallest donation can have a big impact in the lives of these children and their families.
Although we couldn’t help every child in need this year, we have helped to prevent at least 820 children missing out on schooling by ensuring that the education packs we’ve distributed benefited children in these three key age groups:
- Early learners – Aged 4 – 7 years
- Junior learners – Aged 8 – 11 years
- Older learners – Aged 11 – 14 years
For every £1400 (US$1800) we raise, we aim to send 450 children living with wild tigers to school. We will try to distribute this evenly across the three age groups with one third of the packs for each. We will continue to distribute all education packs in the hardest hit villages, and will try to raise further funds so that we can also help the pop-up schools when these resume.
Making a Difference
Another 120 children who didn’t have access to remote learning due to poverty, no electricity and lack of technology throughout the schools’ lockdown now have the opportunity to start or resume their education, thanks to your generosity. If you are able to help us help more children to have an education and become tiger protectors rather than foragers, please consider a new monthly donation as it’s never too late to make a difference.
Thankfully, due to your amazing support and donations we’ve provided education packs and school backpacks to support the learning of 120 children, this time. Sadly, there are still thousands more children who desperately need your help!
Long Term Impact – Help is Still Needed
Our experience has shown us over the last 12.5 years, that without education, the prospects for the poorest children will be limited to picking tendu leaves, mahua flowers, amla fruit, from the forest to sell. Others will chop down trees and clear precious forest habitat to create more land for agriculture. Children from the poorest families still have no access to online learning facilities, as they live without electricity or access to technology.
Your support for our work is amazing. We definitely couldn’t keep wild tigers safe without it. As the world tries to rebuild its lives, we hope that we can provide a brighter future for some of Bandhavgarh’s poorest children. If you can help to support the education of Bandhavgarh’s poorest rural children by starting a new monthly recurring donation from just £5 (US$8) per month, you will make a huge difference for at least 15 children in a year.
In Bandhavgarh, for the thousands of young children with no access to schooling, without computers or mobile phones, without electricity in their homes, a bleak future awaits. These are the children who Tigers4Ever has always tried to help with books and basic writing materials which give them hope. With your help we give them a chance to go to school which otherwise they may not have.
You Can Make a Difference Today
We want to ensure that the poorest children get a chance to complete their education. We want to do more but we need your help to provide education packs so children can go to school right now. Your donation of £25 (US$40) can make that happen for at least 5 children right now. Help us provide education packs for children today!
Remember: when we provide education packs and scholarships for children living with wild tigers we are reducing the risk of future tiger habitat destruction AND ensuring that these children have the opportunity to become future tiger protectors.
I would like to thank you for your generosity and support on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the children who we have helped to get an education (and their families who have food because of this help); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing books and writing equipment for inclusion in the education packs which we distribute; and also the desks, seats and backpacks provided and the mahua collection nets used by our patrollers for training. Stay Safe.