How Tigers4Ever Will Educate 105 Villages on Forest Safety
Working with and supporting the local communities who live alongside wild tigers is essential to protecting the species and has always been central to the Tigers4Ever ethos. If humans and wild animals can’t live alongside each other in harmony, then the future for wild tigers will be very bleak indeed.
Driven by this principle, our latest initiative, launched this summer, will see wildlife safety education provided for every village in Bandhavgarh, India. The aim is to address the increase in human-wildlife conflict which threatens to undermine the successes we have had to date in boosting wild tiger numbers.
How we will do it?
1. Understand the nature of the human/wildlife conflict
We know from our experience on the ground that the biggest threats to life for wildlife and humans in Bandhavgarh currently come from four main species: Tigers, Elephants, Snakes and Leopards.
We spoke to our anti-poaching patrollers, local educators, wildlife experts and the victims of wildlife attacks to audit of the most common causes of wildlife attacks and attacks on wildlife. It was quite a comprehensive list.
2. Agree how to stay safe
Once we knew the circumstances and nature of each attack, we could focus on whether they could be avoided, mitigated or the risk removed entirely. This gave us solutions to the various issues all captured in a detailed table – but it was entirely in English!
3. Decide on the method of communication
Very few people living in the rural villages around Bandhavgarh speak, read or write English, and some can’t read the dominant language Hindi either.
In consultation with local people, including our anti-poaching rangers who would approach people they met to share information, we decided the most effective approach would be to turn our words into pictures – creating images like those seen on airline safety cards.
The final designs were approved by those who would deliver the safety education messages in Bandhavgarh – they had to feel happy with the medium and confident with the message. It was agreed that our anti-poaching patrollers would carry laminated cards to use when they encounter people in the forest.
We would also need to counter the human-wildlife conflict that happens when wildlife enters the villages to raid crops and livestock. Metal signs would be expensive, time consuming and not environmentally friendly as they’d need to be set in concrete and painted by hand. But … each village has a meeting place or Chaupal. It was agreed these provide the ideal place for posting banner-style safety education information for all to see.
4. Production and roll-out
We used local printers in Bandhavgarh to produce huge weatherproof banners with tiger, elephant, leopard and snake safety information. They’ll be put up at 10 key forest locations visited by tourists and other non-residents too.
We’ve ordered 115 of each banner plus 100 laminated cards to be used at forest outposts and carried by our anti-poaching patrols when on duty. We will start to deliver and mount these banners over the next few weeks and will deliver a safety brief to the villagers so they can familiarise themselves with how to behave when wild animals approach or when entering their forest home.
We hope to help in other areas too
Human-wildlife conflict is a growing problem in tiger territories all over India, so we hope that we can help in areas outside Bandhavgarh too. Reproducing these forest safety education resources elsewhere shouldn’t be as difficult as doing it for the first time, however, funding the production and distribution of them will be a much bigger challenge! For now, we hope to reduce the loss of life both human and wildlife in Bandhavgarh by ensuring that everyone in the 105 villages has access to the forest safety education delivered by Tigers4ever.
Could you help us to reduce human/wildlife conflict in India? Just £14/$18 can provide forest safety information in one location in India – potentially helping 100s of villagers. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/education-saves-tigers/