Early Monsoon and Climate Change

Young tiger climbing a tree in Bandhavgarh national Park, India
Tiger cub Climbing Tree

Thank you for your tremendous help during our Climate Action fundraising campaign at the end of April 2021. We were ready to start work on our latest permanent wildlife waterhole project to help the tigers, elephants and other wildlife displaced forest fires, and to continue fundraising for another site. The weather and COVID19 had other ideas unfortunately. As Cyclones Tautkae and Yaas brought heavy rainfall to Bandhavgarh in May, something almost unheard of in recent times. Suddenly the tracks and roads were flooded and resembled rivers. In itself, the rainfall was welcome because it replenished a forest parched by drought and fires, but at the same time it wreaked havoc from our waterhole construction plans. The ground was unstable and thus we couldn’t get the drill on site to create the bore well to access the underground streams. We needed the sun to shine and dry the tracks so we could get the drill into place. As seven dry days passed we were hopeful that work would commence on day 10 but COVID19 intervened, again. India went into another full lockdown as the Delta variant spread like wildfire, indiscriminately taking the lives of people in hundreds of thousands. A long-time friend of Tigers4Ever, a forest guide, was amongst the casualties claimed by this dreadful virus together with two local doctors who succumbed to the virus after treating others who were chronically sick.

Early Monsoon Rains

There was no comfort in knowing that some natural waterholes now had small puddles in the bottom, as the flood waters ebbed away. The movement of people in the forest was being strictly controlled given that some lions and tigers elsewhere in India had already shown signs of and tested positive for COVID19. We managed to get permissions from the authorities for our team on the ground to access the site following vaccinations and negative PCR tests, but then as we entered June the monsoon rains arrived, almost a month early! The torrential downpour plus trees felled by lightning wreaked havoc again. The tracks were unstable, like mudslides, it was impossible to get the drill on site. We are ready to go, as soon as we can get a 10 day window without rain, we’ll try to get the drill in position again. As we stand, the huge waterhole is ready, the structure for the solar panels is complete and the solar panels plus bore well pump have been ordered. We need to be patient, climate change has brought us new challenges, we don’t know yet whether an early monsoon start will lead to an early monsoon end. If it does, it will bring problems with drought forward again increasing the importance of raising another £1200 ($1704) as soon as possible to ensure we can put another waterhole into an area of forest decimated by the recent fires. https://tigers4ever.org/waterholes/

Restoration and Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict

Without water, displaced wildlife will be slow to return to that part of the forest thus increasing the risk of further human-wildlife conflict as animals wander into the surrounding farms in search of water and food. Please help, if you can by making a donation at: https://goto.gg/34315 thank you. We are well aware that human-wildlife conflict has been increasing over the last three years; this is partly due to the success of conservation efforts to increase wild tiger numbers, partly due to the economic impact of COVID19 and partly due to shrinking wildlife habitat due to fires, industrialisation and other human encroachment issues. None of these can be remedied overnight but we are working hard behind the scenes to gain approval for a reforestation project which will seek to redress the impact of forest fires and illegal logging/woodcutting on pristine wildlife habitat. When we gain approval to start the reforestation project we will prioritise our waterholes and reforestation/tree planting in the areas which are most likely to reduce the risk of human-wildlife conflict. By providing food and water for the prey animals it will reduce the risk of them raiding crops and entering villages in search of water. In turn, this will reduce the risk of predators following and killing livestock instead of native prey. Our experience tells us that when human-wildlife conflict increases, snares and traps are set to stop crop raiding herbivores but sometimes these snares kill tigers too. We also know that every time a tiger or leopard takes a cow or goat from one of the villages, the risk of retaliatory poisoning is increasingly high. Our best remedy right now is to complete the work on our latest waterhole project and raise a further £1200 ($1704) as quickly as possible so we complete another solar-powered waterhole project in the forest area decimated by fires. We are determined to address the biggest threat to wild tigers having a wild future by working with the wider tiger community to ensure that human-wildlife conflict is minimised, but we can’t do it without your help. (https://goto.gg/34315)

Reducing the Risk for Patrollers too

In the last few weeks we have provided three more drinking water tanks for remote patrol camps previously dependent on using wildlife waterholes to refill their drinking water bottles whilst on duty. These water tanks mean that patrollers’ lives are not at risk every time they need water to drink, which also reduces human-wildlife conflict arising from bereaved villagers who have lost their only income provider to a wild animal attack or infection derived from contaminated water.

There is always more to do

In the short term, more permanent wildlife waterholes are essential to prevent the inevitable tiger-tiger and human-animal conflict, which arises from increased wild tiger numbers, the animals displaced by the fires, and better cub survival rates. With 41 more tiger cubs born during the COVID19 lockdown and more on the way, we have to do everything we can to prevent it leading to more tiger deaths. We will finish the work at the large waterhole as soon as we have a 10 day dry period so we can mobilise the drill, there is less than a week’s work to go so we’ll be delighted to know that at least 42 elephants and 8 wild tigers plus countless other animals displaced by the fires will have permanent year round water. 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 year GlobalGiving is pledging a 100% bonus in matched funds on new monthly donations which are continued for at least 4 months. So now really is the time to give monthly, if you can, to make the most of your donation! https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/water-for-bandhavgarhs-tigers/?show=recurring.

We need to raise £1200 to start work at the second site, so if just 30 of our supporters each donate US$57 (£40) this month we’ll raise enough to start work as soon as the weather allows, saving the lives of at least 10 more wild tigers in the process https://goto.gg/34315.

Many Challenges Ahead

We need to quadruple our efforts to keep wild tigers safe right now. We’ve tripled our anti-poaching patrols to address the increased risk of retaliatory poisoning and poaching of wild tigers. With your help, we will be able to complete our next two waterhole projects soon, which in total would help to keep at least 18 wild tigers safe.

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

– £10 ($14) per month will help to drill 12 metres (39 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

– £20 ($28) will help to drill 2 metres (6.5 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

– £75 ($105) can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;

– £380 ($532) will fund 6% of a solar system to bring underground water to the surface.

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.

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