Droughts, Fires and Elephants

Tiger with his face blackened by smoke from the Forest Fires

Sometimes we wonder whether the droughts which are getting longer and harder for the wildlife of Bandhavgarh are wholly down to climate change or whether something else is in the mix. We wrote our last waterhole project update just five and a half weeks ago, but it seems like longer given what has happened since. If you read that report you’ll remember that wild elephants had damaged the solar-pump systems at two of our major waterhole sites leaving six of our wildlife waterholes dry. Work started on the repairs as soon as we had raised sufficient funds, we encountered an unexpected problem when we discovered that sand had entered the bore-well during the time when it wasn’t working, but we got an engineer on site to clear the bore-well before reconnecting the pump to the newly repaired solar system. As a result, the repairs took a little longer than anticipated but I’m pleased to say that there is water in all six of the waterholes filled by the two solar-pump systems and they are being used by tigers and other wild animals again. We’re in the process of completing the elephant proof fencing around the solar pump systems as I write.

Devastation and Restoration

If you follow our social media channels, you’ll also know about the forest fires which ravaged miles of wild tiger habitat for four days at the end of March and beginning of April. These fires have decimated the jungle destroying more than a third of the core forest and buffer forest too. Thousands of animals including wild tigers were displaced by the fires whilst others were too small or too vulnerable to flee, thus perishing in the flames and smoke. Many birds, reptiles, small mammals and insects were lost in the fires and the important roles which they played in seed dispersal and forest regeneration have been lost too. Since the fires were quashed, we’ve already received reports from our patrollers that two tigers and three leopards have died as a result of displacement and territorial conflict. One leopard was found in a fire affected area of forest, her fur blackened by smoke, she had succumbed to smoke inhalation. Many primate families have been displaced too. Rebuilding their forest homes will not happen overnight, but we plan to plant as many trees as we are able to do so we can restore the forest and provide food and habitat for the future generations of wildlife so dependent on the trees for life. By planting these trees, we’ll also be helping to address the issue of climate change too, as the saplings grow and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere around them.

The Risk of Retaliatory Poisoning and Poaching is High

In the short term, more permanent wildlife waterholes are essential to prevent the inevitable tiger-tiger and human-animal conflict, which will arise due to the animals being displaced by the fires, from leading to more tiger deaths. We plan to start work within two weeks on installing a solar powered bore-well pump system at a large waterhole, which is currently being filled by water tankers, and is used by at least 42 elephants and 8 wild tigers plus countless other animals which have been displaced by the fires. If you have been following our newsletters for some time, you will know that tankers are a short-term solution because they habitualise wild tigers to large human vehicles thus making it easier for poachers to strike. However, one waterhole is nowhere near enough to reduce the conflict caused by the displaced wildlife encroaching on the territories of others and humans, so we need your help to be able to do at least one more waterhole, in addition to our current plan, before it is too late for the displaced wild tigers and other wildlife:  https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/. With your help, we can raise enough money to start work at a second site which will benefit another 10 wild tigers including cubs too.

 You Can Help us to Make a Huge Difference Right Now

This week, we’re taking part in GlobalGiving’s Climate Action Campaign and your donation up to US$100 (£78) will get a 100% bonus in matched funds until 23 April 2021 only. So now really is the time to give, to make the most of your donation!

We need to raise £4000 to start work at the second site, so if just 30 of our supporters each donate US$100 (£78) during this campaign we’ll raise enough with the bonus matched funds, to start work straight away, saving the lives of at least 10 more wild tigers.

The Wild Elephants Have Done It Again

As I’m writing this report, I have just received news that the wild elephants have entered an area of the forest where they have never been before, due to their displacement by the fires, and damaged the solar bore-well pump system at another of our waterhole sites. This damage could lead to two more waterholes running dry within the next fortnight, and leaving up to 12 tigers including cubs to enter the nearby villages in search of food and water! We were planning to erect elephant proof fencing at this site, as a precaution, once the repairs at the other sites were complete. It is likely that we will need to raise another £600 (US$840) to complete these repairs too.  

Many Challenges Ahead         

We need to quadruple our efforts to keep wild tigers safe right now. We’re increasing our anti-poaching patrols to 2.5 times normal levels to address the increased risk of retaliatory poisoning and poaching of wild tigers. With your help, we will be able to complete our next waterhole project (and hopefully a further one too) and the repairs needed where the elephants have damaged the solar pump system which currently fills two waterholes, which in total would help to keep at least 30 wild tigers safe.

Remember all new monthly donations set up during 2021 will also qualify for a 100% GlobalGiving bonus match at month 4: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/?show=recurring, but if you donate during the climate action campaign the donation will qualify for 100% bonus matched funds up to US$100 (£78) too. There really has never been a better time to donate.

Here are some of the ways your donations will help us to save wild tigers:

– £10 ($13) per month will help to drill 12 metres (39 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

– £20 ($26) will help to drill 2 metres (6.5 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

– £75 ($95) can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;

– £380 ($475) will fund 6% of a solar system to bring underground water to the surface;

£600 ($840) will enable us to repair the damaged solar-powered pump system and provide water for at least 12 wild tigers including cubs.

Every donation, no matter how large or small, helps us increase and protect the tiger population. 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. Thanks to you, the tigers can live peacefully and those who live beside them can protect their livelihoods.

Any and all donations are welcome https://goto.gg/34315. If you can’t afford to donate perhaps you could become a Tigers4Ever fundraiser, here: https://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraisers/start/?fundraiser.projids=34315 and ask your friends, colleagues and family to donate to your fundraiser to help us keep wild tigers safe.