By: Martin Urch –Tigers4Ever Patron

The wild tiger is in serious trouble. Tigers are under threat from increased poaching and their habitat is being intruded into due to human needs for resources and income.

Unfortunately, conservation is viewed by governments as a luxury when national resources are stretched and under pressure. Within this context there is a growing need for conservation organisations to increase their contribution to ecological imperatives.

As governments seek to protect their health care systems from Covid-19 overload with ‘you must stay at home’ instructions, impoverished people of the world suffer multifariously. Omnipresent lockdowns have created unintended consequences for the planet’s poorest people and have significant repercussions for conservation. 

Dr David Nabarro (WHO special envoy) expresses this point eloquently: “Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”[1] To this effect, no eminent scientist nor theoretical model can fully estimate the long-term destruction that lockdowns are causing for people and nature. 

Workers from villages near India’s Bandhavgarh National Park rely on daily wages for income. This subsistence is powered by tourists attracted to see India’s Madhya Pradesh forests; a land made famous in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In this reality, Bengal Tigers naturally provide a positive impact on both the economy and the lives of human beings. 

International tourists stopped arriving in Bandhavgarh in March 2020 and, it is within this new reality, indigenous people are fighting for survival. In desperation, the villagers illegally enter the National Park for sources of food. However, the law of the jungle also applies in this Reserve and the tigers are the apex predator with whom human conflict must be avoided. 

When a tiger is surprised, they lash out and a single direct blow can kill a human being. We have recently seen a rise in such deaths at Bandhavgarh, which has subsequently and tragically been met by the killing of tigers. In October 2020 we learnt of the first two retaliatory tiger deaths in over five years, due to poisoning. 

As people in Bandhavgarh enter their eighth month without regular paid work, the situation has become dreadful with people becoming desperate for an income in order to survive. Tigers4Ever Trustees, Patrons and friends have personally provided food parcels to help in these extraordinary times, but we need your help to increase our patrols beyond normal levels in order to keep these wild tigers safe. 

Tigers4Ever patrollers remove snares and traps to shield wild tigers from poaching and, through education, discourage villagers from illegal activity in their habitat. We also build solar powered water sources for Tigers inside the Reserve, and work with the Forest Department to ensure prompt Government compensation for farmers where livestock has been taken by tigers.

We are devastated by the recent human-tiger conflict and the loss of life in Bandhavgarh. Increased on the ground patrols are the only way we can tackle these human induced issues. Covid-19 kills, but without your help its consequential ‘new normal’ will see the death of more Bandhavgarh people and more tigers. Your donations will truly make a difference. Please help where you can.

[1] Source: The Week in 60 Minutes #6 with Andrew Neil and WHO Covid-19 Envoy Dr David Nabarro from 8th October 2020.  Available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8oH7cBxgwE

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