Two More Waterholes and Something New

Bandhavgarh Royal Bengal Tigress and her 3 Cubs swimming in a Tigers4Ever Waterhole
Bandhavgarh Tigress and Cubs in a Tigers4Ever Waterhole

Thank you for your incredible support as we fight to give more wild tigers a wild future. As I write this report there is good news, exciting news and some concern. The good news is that we have been able to provide year round water at another wildlife waterhole, this time in the Dhamokhar buffer area. Work is underway to complete construction at another site in the Panpatha Buffer, which when complete will bring the total number of wildlife waterholes funded by Tigers4Ever to thirteen.

The exciting news is that we are now looking for expertise in Rainwater Harvesting projects to enable us to provide year-round water for wildlife at sites where the elevation and/or terrain make the location unsuitable for a borewell pump system. If we can find the necessary expertise in the next couple of weeks, it may enable us to put in two such systems prior to the onset of the monsoon rains. If successful, you will have helped Tigers4Ever to provide water for wild tigers and other animals at fifteen locations, which we think is amazing. Thank you.

The concerning news is about the monsoon rains; once again the start is delayed with heavy rains expected from 15 July. It is a concern because 12 years ago when we started to work in Bandhavgarh, it wasn’t unusual for the monsoon rains to arrive around 15 June! This is concerning because as the monsoon rains arrive later each year and sometimes end early, there isn’t enough rainfall to replenish rivers, lakes and streams. Worst affected are the seasonal rivers, streams and ponds which will dry up in a matter of a couple of months when not fully replenished. For this reason, together with the drilling and accessibility issues encountered with recent attempts to provide year-round water in the Tala zone of Bandhavgarh, we are prioritising our search for expertise in rainwater harvesting projects.

The wild elephants have continued to bring us new challenges both in protecting solar pump systems and water pipelines at our existing and new waterhole sites. We continue to try a variety of solutions to elephant-proof each location as “the one size fits all” solutions definitely don’t work, in our experience.

Tiger and Elephant Numbers Grow

The latest tiger census figures are being finalised ready for publication at the International Tiger Forum (Tiger Summit) in September 2022. Early indications suggest that Bandhavgarh’s wild tiger numbers have increased again, since the 2018 count. We’re amazed at this achievement against the odds given the significant increases in India’s wild tiger poaching over the last two years. We really appreciate all your fundraising support and donations over this period for our anti-poaching patrols, as we’ve quadrupled our patrolling for the monsoon season to address this increased risk (https://goto.gg/28767). Wild elephant numbers have almost trebled since the herd first arrived in Bandhavgarh, having been displaced from their Chhattisgarh home by mining activity.

Tiger cub mortality continues to be at 90-95% (well above the 50% average for wild tiger populations), which is good news for the wild tiger population, but increases the need for better habitat and more prey. Without sufficient prey or habitat, both Tiger-Tiger and Human-Tiger conflict increases, often resulting in loss of life. In recent weeks, this conflict has increased as food for both prey and predators is harder to find in the forest. Wildlife searching for food inevitably wanders into villages where herbivores eat the crops and predators eat the livestock leaving angry villagers without food or vital income sources. Prompt action is essential in such cases to prevent the setting of snares traps and baited carcasses to eliminate the intruding wild animals and save the farmers’ livelihoods.

Our experience has shown us that the best way to reduce the Human-Wildlife conflict is to prevent the prey animals from straying towards the villages in search of water. It is for this reason that we have prioritised our permanent wildlife waterholes projects over the last six months. In this time, we have ensured permanent wildlife water sources are available at five more locations and we’re currently working on the sixth. When prey animals have adequate water and food, the predators including tigers and leopards will have enough food too. When we complete our 13th waterhole project, the number of wild tigers benefitting from Tigers4Ever waterholes will increase to at least 71. Our next target will be to put rainwater harvesting step waterhole systems in places with high altitude and those where the underground water table is too difficult to access, if we are able to do this at the two planned locations, at least 16 more wild tigers will benefit.

Whilst the wild elephants continue to benefit from our 12 wildlife waterholes, they continue to be the greatest perpetrators of human-wildlife conflict with their destruction of both property and crops. As a result, we to tailor the mechanism for elephant-proofing our solar-pump systems to the type of terrain involved as the deep wide moat system is best suited to rocky terrains, and chilli pepper or bee-hive fencing is suited to all locations. As a matter of course, we have buried all of our existing and new waterhole feeder pipes at least 1 metre (39 inches) beneath the ground to prevent wild elephants from unearthing and damaging them. 

Our recent and current focus has been on providing year-round water at seasonal waterhole locations to try to prevent the dispersal of wild animals in the drought season, to ultimately reduce Human-Wildlife conflict.

A male Royal Bengal tiger with battle scars on his face from Tiger-Tiger conflict in Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Tiger-Tiger Conflict leaves nasty Scars

GlobalGiving Bonus Day

This year the GlobalGiving Bonus Day matched funding campaign will be on 20 July 2022, when your online donations of US$100 (£82) and above to our waterhole project will qualify for up to 50% in bonus matched funds on the first US$1000 (£820) of your donations on the day (whilst matched funding lasts). This means that your larger donations will have an increased impact at a time when wild tigers desperately need your help https://goto.gg/34315. Although you are more than welcome to donate smaller amounts but these won’t qualify for matched bonus funds on the day. A further Little by Little matched funding campaign will take place in September 2022 when 50% matched funding will be available on donations up to US$50 (£38). During the July Bonus Day campaign we hope to raise a total of £2500 (US$3050) so that we can create rainwater harvesting step systems at two further seasonal sites bringing the total number of wild tigers benefitted to around 87 including cubs.

If you feel able to help during this Campaign (20 July 2022) our friends at GlobalGiving are giving us the chance to gain a bonus matched funds whilst funds last on the day; so it’s a great time to donate because whatever you donate online on the day is sure to have a great impact for wild tigers: https://goto.gg/34315.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Continues to be a Growing Problem

Conflict between humans and wild animals is a major problem across the globe, and India is no exception. The damage and destruction caused by a variety of wild animals to

property and even to human life is a real and significant danger to many communities. Wild animals often are often killed, captured, or otherwise harmed in retaliation; as a result and thus human-wildlife conflict is a significant threat to the future survival of many species including wild tigers. Tigers4Ever views human-animal conflict as a priority issue for its work to give wild tigers a wild future, which is why we need your help to deliver solutions to reduce the conflict.

Habitat loss and a burgeoning human population increase the pressure on the last remaining pristine wild tiger habitat, and as the wild tiger population increases so does Tiger-Tiger and Human-Wildlife conflict. We have almost reached a saturation point where we’ve provided as many permanent wildlife waterholes filled by solar borewell pumps as the current forest habitat can support. But this doesn’t tell the whole story, as some locations are desperately in need of wildlife waterholes but terrain and elevation make them unsuitable for solar powered pump systems. As mentioned above, we are considering rainwater harvest systems at these sites, but we must act quickly as the monsoon rainy season is short and we only have one to two months to complete the work if we are to fill the waterholes this year.

We recently conducted a survey of forest areas in the buffer zone around Bandhavgarh to identify sites which have been denuded by forest fires and historical logging, as areas for a new tree planting initiative. A proposal has been submitted to plant up to 1600 trees per hectare at one of these sites to improve existing forest habitat and thus reduce human-wildlife conflict. We hope to launch our forest rehabilitation project to work alongside our waterhole project, to deliver new solutions to human-wildlife and Tiger-Tiger conflict, in the next few months.

Right now our focus is on providing permanent water for the wild animals to mitigate the impact of drought and reduce the risk of human-wildlife conflict. We hope this year during the July Bonus Day Campaign (20 July 2022) you will help us to give wild tigers the gift of life with a donation at: https://goto.gg/34315 so we can start work to provide permanent water for wild tigers at two more locations in Bandhavgarh too. Remember that your gift during this campaign will have a greater impact if it is $100 (£82) or more it helps us to gain bonus matched funding from GlobalGiving on the first US$1000 (£820) of your donation, thank you.

Permanent wildlife waterholes are essential to prevent future tiger-tiger and human-animal conflict, which arise from increased wild tiger numbers, and better cub survival rates. There are currently more tiger cubs (51) in Bandhavgarh than the total number of wild tigers (37) counted in the Tiger Census (in 2010) when Tigers4Ever started working there, thus we need to do everything we can to prevent wild tiger deaths due to retaliatory response to human-wildlife conflict. One waterhole (our 13th) is nowhere near enough to reduce the conflict caused by wild tigers encroaching on the territories of other tigers and humans, so we need your help to be able to do at least two more waterholes too, before it is too late for the 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 on another two waterholes which will benefit another 16 wild tigers including cubs.

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 £2500 (US$3050) to start work at two new rainwater harvesting step waterhole sites, so if just 25 of our supporters each donate £100 (£135) during the July Bonus Day campaign, we’ll raise enough to start work as soon as our work at the thirteenth waterhole site is completed, saving the lives of at least 16 more wild tigers in the process https://goto.gg/34315.

Our Challenges Ahead

We need to maximise our efforts to keep wild tigers safe right now. Our anti-poaching patrols are quadrupled to address the increased risk of retaliatory poisoning and poaching. With your help, we can complete two more waterhole projects soon, which in total will help to keep at least 16 wild tigers safe.

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

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

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

– a one-off £40 ($56) gift will help to drill 4 metres (13 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;

– £90 ($126) can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;

– £120 ($170) can cover the cost of labour and preparation of a 1.5 metre wide by 1.5 metre deep elephant proof moat to protect a solar-pump system;

– £2000 ($2700) will facilitate the creation and lining of step waterholes for rainwater harvesting at one location.

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 wild 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.

A wild Royal Bengal Tigress walking through water in the Buffer Zone of Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Buffer Zone Tigresses need water too

If you wish to read more about the work being done by our anti-poaching patrols, please see our most recent newsletter post here: https://tigers4ever.org/forest-fires-drought-and-heat-in-bandhavgarh/.

For our latest day to day news, follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/home.

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