After the Forest Fires

Female Tiger Cub

Can I start this project update newsletter by thanking every single one of you for your amazing support over the last year; we’ve all been impacted in one way or another by COVID19 but you have helped us to undertake double patrolling when it was most needed, despite your own personal pressures. In this time, we have seen India enter total lockdown, resume some sense of normality for its domestic population then spiral into another full lockdown as the third wave of COVID19 claims at least 2000 lives per day.

The wild tigers and our patrollers have experienced some tough times too as poaching and retaliatory poisonings once again started to increase; forest fires raged for 4 days and four nights at the end of the Holi celebrations and as we looked forward to Easter; last week the tail end of cyclone Tautkae whilst this week our patrols are bracing themselves for the impact of cyclone Yaas. These cyclones have brought unseasonably cold weather and torrential rainfall at a time when baking heat and parched landscapes are the norm. The rainfall and cooler temperatures are welcomed by some but bring additional challenges and dangers for our anti-poaching patrollers as visibility is greatly reduced and lightning fells the trees around them. With more than a third of wild tiger habitat decimated by the recent forest fires and over 35000 animals either killed, maimed or displaces by the flames, the rainfall brings hope of some seed germination and new shoots for the starving prey animals to eat.

Forest Fires rage Through Bandhavgarh

Poachers Strike Again

The latest COVID19 lockdown has also brought some bad news as both pangolin and tiger poachers stepping up their evil activities. Just a few weeks ago patrollers caught a gang of pangolin poachers red-handed in the Manpur buffer forest; they were promptly arrested and charged. Then last week, a young male wild tiger was poached in the same buffer forest just a few kilometres from the first incident, sadly the poachers absconded with some body parts from the dead tiger leaving his carcass to be discovered by the morning patrols. This was devastating news after 43 months without a tiger poaching incident and a reminder that since the outset of the COVID pandemic that the risk of wild tigers being poached is extremely high. We have already increased our patrolling again and are currently patrolling at two and a half times the normal levels for this time of year, but we realise with the monsoon season just around the corner that the risk will increase again and we’re already considering triple patrolling throughout the monsoon period, subject to raising sufficient funds. https://tigers4ever.org/donate/.

Despite the current lockdown situation in India, poachers are still active so our patrollers need to be equally active too, if we are to keep the wild tigers and their cubs safe. To ensure that we can undertake triple patrolling throughout the monsoon peak poaching season we will need to raise a total of £3930 (US$5465) or £700 (US$971) over and above what we raise for two and a half times patrolling. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the current wave of COVID19 in India so we anticipate that our patrolling will still need to be increased post monsoon too.

Even after the fires smoke filled the skies around Bandhavgarh

Making a Difference

As always, our anti-poaching patrols are working flat out to mitigate the risks caused by increased human encroachment levels and the in poaching activity in the neighbouring states and Madhya Pradesh. We don’t always get it right as the recent poaching incident has shown, but we always try to do more and better when the worst happens, so we hope we can rely on your continued loyal support. The forest fires brought increased incidence of both tiger-tiger and human-animal conflict so our patrols are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of retaliatory poisonings too, meanwhile we are planning to start drilling at our next waterhole project as soon as we can get permission for the team of workers to enter the jungle (as COVID lockdown measures are currently preventing this). This will also help to alleviate some of the conflict issues caused by the displacement of wildlife following the fires.

The only way we can address the increased threat of poaching and retaliatory poisoning is to keep our patrolling at the highest possible levels (2.5 times or triple patrolling) until at least the end of October 2021, when hopefully the COVID vaccination rollout will help to alleviate the economic burden of COVID19, and hopefully the children of the villages will be able to return to school for the first time in over 15 months.

With triple patrols, we can cover an extra 1000km (624 miles) per month of wild tiger territory over and above the 1.5 times patrolling we were doing at this time last year. The increase also means more time will be spent looking for snares; traps and signs of would be poisoners around forest areas where human encroachment is rife. Increased patrols also help to curb the dangerous encroachment into the territories of wild tigers which is still increasing, and to provide safety advice for those trying to protect their crops and livestock from wandering elephants and tigers respectively.

Wild Tigers are Amazing

It isn’t all bad news though, one tigress known as Tara has 4 young cubs and despite the forest fires raging throughout and destroying almost her whole territory, she rescued and kept all four cubs safe. Proof in itself that wild tigers are truly remarkable animals and capable of beating the odds if given half a chance. We reported in our last project report that at least eight more tiger cubs had been born and we’re delighted to say that these are all safe and doing well for now.

Your Support is Amazing Too

To implement and sustain another increase in our patrolling, we need to ask for your help again. Your gift today can make a huge difference as to whether Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers can survive these unprecedented threats:

  • Your gift of £20 ($28) will help us to pay a patrolling team for a day
  • A gift of £30 ($42) will provide hot nutritious meals whilst they are on duty for a day
  • Giving £40 ($56) will ensure that we can transport a team of anti-poaching patrollers to a remote location for a day’s patrolling
  • Your gift of £100 ($139) will ensure that a team of patrollers can cover 125km (78 miles) of wild tiger territory in a day
  • A gift of £500 ($695) will ensure that we can increase of patrolling levels to the highest level for one month.

If we don’t act now, we are sure that the lives of more tigers and humans will be lost. With every loss of human life comes another threat to the tiger’s survival in the wild, thus we must protect both if we are to ensure that wild tigers will have a wild future. Every single donation received will help us to save wild tigers’ lives, no matter how large or small. The current crisis means that we need your help like never before: https://goto.gg/28767.

Please don’t hesitate if you can help, your donation can be the difference between life and death for a wild tiger, as it helps to increase our patrolling when it is most needed. Every tiger and every tiger cub counts. Thank you for making our fight against poachers, the changing climate and human-animal conflict possible.

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