What Happens Next
We are eternally grateful for your continued support for our anti-poaching patrols during these challenging times. Thank you. The cost of living crisis seems never-ending and we know that makes life much harder for everyone. Without your help our Anti-Poaching Patrols would already be reduced to no more than the double patrolling we did back in 2020. It is something which concerns us massively, as poaching incidents of both wild tigers and their prey continue to rise across India. Your generosity has helped us to maintain treble-patrolling throughout 2023, so far, something which is absolutely vital as peak poaching season is almost upon us. Without your help, continuing additional patrolling will be impossible for the remainder of 2023! Your donations really do make a difference to ensuring that the growing wild tiger and cub population continues to get the best protection we can provide.
Every Tiger Death is a Tragedy
Since the introduction of our anti-poaching patrols almost 8 years ago we have seen a 98% decline in wild tiger deaths due to poaching and retaliatory poisonings. This in turn has helped to boost the wild tiger population to 400% of the total number of wild tigers which were in Bandhavgarh back in 2010 when Tigers4Ever was founded. We are delighted to see such an abundance of surviving tiger cubs and sub-adults but we now face the reality that the fragile habitat where these wild tigers live simply isn’t big enough for all these tigers to thrive. In recent years forest fires, severe droughts, human encroachment, mining activities and livestock grazing have all taken their toll on the fragile forest ecosystem.
We have addressed some of the impact of the droughts by providing solar-powered pump systems and wildlife waterholes which mean that there is year round water at 18 waterhole sites thanks to Tigers4Ever, and you our generous supporters. Read more about our wildlife waterhole projects. We also help to fight forest fires by providing water in the middle of the jungle from our solar powered borewell pumps and by lending our brave anti-poaching patrols to help with the creation of firebreaks and to beat out the flames to reduce the devastating spread of fires which can quickly kill thousands of trees, insects, birds, reptiles and small mammals, including tiny tiger cubs. Right now the drought season is gripping Bandhavgarh and forest fires are a daily occurrence. This will likely continue until the end of June when pre-monsoon showers followed by heavy monsoon rains will soak the vegetation and forest floor making spontaneous fires much less likely to take hold. This morning we received a report from our team in Bandhavgarh about a brave patroller losing his motorcycle when fire engulfed it whist the patroller was working hard to quench the flames of a forest fire before it became out of control. We posted a video of the burning motorcycle on our twitter feed today:(@Tigers4ever2010). The poor patroller has now lost his only transport and it will take him a long time to save up the £550 ($700) needed to replace it. If you are able to help with a small donation, we are asking people to donate via our patrolling equipment project.
Human encroachment is always rife at this time of year as the poorest villagers try to eke out a living by collecting mahua flowers, tendu leaves and amla fruit to sell. Our patrols need to be extra vigilant to ensure that the groups of collectors don’t conceal poachers in their midst, as setting snares and traps for the tigers’ prey and tigers themselves always increases as we move towards the monsoon peak poaching season.
In the last 4 months, 3 wild tigers died from territorial fights, 2 of which were young tigresses so their loss will impact the wild tiger population for several more years too. These deaths are a tragedy in their own right, but they have been compounded by the killing of 5 more tigers, by poachers, outside the boundaries of Bandhavgarh! In each case the tigers were young adults migrating from Bandhavgarh in search of new territory when the poachers struck! Such incidents remind us just how difficult it is to keep the poachers at bay 100% of the time. We currently have neither the funds nor patrolling resources to expand the area which we patrol, as our team is already stretched to the limit with the triple patrolling workload. It is a dilemma, we don’t want to lose more migrating tigers but we also don’t want to reduce the protection in the areas we currently patrol. Just to add another 78 miles (125km) to our patrolling area will cost another £123 (US$154) per day, which right now is impossible especially with the cost of living crisis.
Fundraising to cover our existing monthly patrolling costs has been challenging throughout 2023 as each month we’ve raised less than 50% of the funds needed to keep patrols tripled and to increase them to quadrupled during the monsoon. We’ve been using our emergency funding since the end of 2022 to ensure that we can keep wild tigers and their cubs safe. Thus extending our patrolling range right now is impossible. Our emergency funds won’t last forever so we will need to consider reducing our patrolling before the end of the monsoon, if we are unable to raise the £1900 ($2400) per month we need to sustain patrolling at our current levels and quadruple levels during peak poaching season. Support our poaching patrols.
Our Patrollers have been busy and there is more to come
In winter, our patrollers faced some of the coldest temperatures since our patrolling began back in 2015, and persistent fog for 15 days which made visibility poor (2 metres-6 feet) and patrolling more dangerous. The warm winter jackets we were able to provide, thanks to your generosity, were an invaluable addition to the patrollers’ vital kit during the cold days and nights. The wooden canes which we provide in the patrollers’ equipment were critical protection during the foggy days as patrollers use them to poke the deep undergrowth ahead in case snares or traps are concealed below. Did you know that we provide wooden canes because they do not conduct the electric current from tethered snares? If we used metal canes, touching a tethered snare would prove fatal for our patrollers too!
After the fog had cleared came the onset of the drought season which brought different challenges for our patrols. The drought season sees increased human encroachment into the forest as villagers bring their livestock into the forest to graze; pick fruit from the trees; and cut down bamboo for fences and branches or trees to sell or burn the wood. The drought season also brings the start of the tendu leaf and mahua flower picking seasons, which increases human activity in the forest. Right now our patrollers are extra vigilant to ensure they spot strangers in the villages and forest. Poachers frequently disguise themselves as family members and join the tendu and mahua pickers in the forest so that they can set snares and traps undetected. As we recruit our anti-poaching patrollers from the villages around Bandhavgarh, it helps us to notice when strangers are around and going into the forest. Where this is the case, we increase our foot patrolling especially around power lines and the periphery of the villages so no unusual activity goes unnoticed.
The Mahua picking season is particularly testing for our patrollers as villagers set fire to piles of leaves at the base of mahua trees to cause the trees to shed their flowers. These fires often get out of control and burn huge areas of forest destroying many trees, grasslands and killing thousands of small animals and birds both of which are vital for seed dispersal and food for many other forest animals. Our brave patrollers are regularly actively involved with quashing forest fires every year from early March through to the end of June. Sometimes it doesn’t work because the wind suddenly changes direction and the fire burns the forest away from the firebreaks which our patrollers help to create. When this happens the consequences are devastating. Last year forest fires raged all around Bandhavgarh from March until early July. Monitoring and fighting the fires takes foot patrollers away from their patrol beats where they would be checking for snares and traps. Thus maintaining triple patrolling right now is essential to ensuring that we can protect both the wild tigers and their forest home.
Some unseasonal heavy rainfall at the end of April curtailed the mahua picking as the rains damaged the flowers and reduced the yield. The rains brought cooler temperatures too with a fall from 40°C (104°F) to 20°C (68°F) in a matter of minutes. The rains also triggered the premature hatching of many insects and an awakening of venomous snakes. Snakes are usually less active during the hot drought season, but since the rains snakes have been appearing in peoples’ homes and vehicles, in addition to being more active in the forest. As a consequence more snake rescue kits are needed before the monsoon rains arrive, something which we are hoping to raise funds for in the coming weeks. We’re also doing our best to provide more patrollers with life-saving waterproof jackets and trousers before the onset of the monsoon rains.
In the next few months, our patrollers will also be involved in the distribution of safety information cards and training, as we seek to reduce human-wildlife conflict through educational resources and restore a harmony where people and wildlife can co-exist. There will be more news about this initiative in our next education project report too.
These laminated forest safety cards will provide information in a format similar to the airline safety cards which many of us will be familiar with. We have added words (bilingual) as well as pictures so that villagers will be able to recognise these words on safety and access notices which are posted at the entrances to the forest. We also want to develop an audio resource which can be delivered by volunteers in the villages as part of a wider awareness and environmental protection programme.
Patrollers need more help too
As the monsoon rains fall, patrolling conditions will become more treacherous as roads and tracks are flooded and venomous snakes will be more active! During this time, waterproof clothing and knee length waterproof boots are vitally important for patroller safety. There are still more than 600 brave patrollers without this vital equipment, so we must work hard to raise enough funds to equip as many as possible in the next three months! To provide this vital equipment for all 600 patrollers we need to raise another £6600 (£8250) as quickly as possible. This would help us to ensure that every patroller can carry out their vital duties when the monsoon rains arrive.
Without this vital equipment, patrolling will cover shorter distances as the flood waters rise: leaving wild tigers and their cubs vulnerable to poachers’ snares and traps. Where possible we’re try to get each set of waterproofs, including boots, shared by two patrollers (one day shift/one night shift) but this isn’t a long term solution as the flood conditions can persist for days on end. If you can help, each set of waterproof clothing costs just £11 ($14) and will not only keep a patroller protecting wild tigers for 12 hours per day but will provide much needed employment for up to 6 people living with wild tigers who make and distribute the clothing and boots too.
Wildlife and Human Casualties
Over the last few months we saw an increase in both human-wildlife conflict and Tiger wildlife conflict around Bandhavgarh. This resulted in deaths of both leopards and humans caused by wild tigers; sadly tigers have been killing each other too. Since our last report, 5 leopards were killed by wild tigers including 2 cubs and a breeding pair. Two different tigers killed a 15 year old boy and an 18 year old boy in separate incidents, and another tiger badly mauled a senior ranger who was conducting his morning patrol (thankfully he has now recovered). In the last few weeks there have been 2 more people killed by different wild tigers as they entered the forest in twilight hours. We also recorded 3 wild tiger deaths due to territorial fights. As the wild tiger population continues to grow, the struggle to find sufficient territory to call home will intensify, and incidents like these will increase in frequency, until more water and habitat can be provided to curtail the conflict. We are currently in the process of providing two more permanent wildlife waterholes, including a large waterhole in the buffer forest where all seasonal water sources are already bone dry. We hope that this waterhole will be completed in the next few weeks, as it will benefit at least 7 tigers and their cubs, plus wild elephants. We are also surveying another dry area of forest in the Kallwah core forest to provide year round water in a large waterhole midst the territory of the endangered barasingha deer herd. Hopefully, we can start work on that project too within the next few weeks as the drought season is already here and forest fires are already faced almost daily by our patrollers.
When these incidents are coupled with the increased risk of poaching activities, it means that our patrollers need to be on high alert at all times. We must, therefore, ensure that we can maintain a minimum of tripled patrolling especially throughout the next six months when we know that the poachers will be very active.
Making a Difference
Thanks to your continued support, we cover an extra 1000 km (624 miles) of wild tiger territory per month with our trebled patrols. Without the vital equipment needed to beat the monsoon weather conditions, this could reduce until the drier weather returns. During wet weather, it is essential to ensure sufficient time to search for snares; traps and signs of poisoners around forest areas where human encroachment is widespread as poachers are more active. We also need to maintain our patrols around the periphery of villages where crop raiding and livestock killing is also rife. Our increased patrolling helps us to curb human encroachment into wild tigers’ territories, and allows us to provide safety advice for those trying to protect their crops and livestock from wandering elephants and tigers respectively.
With almost half of the 60 tiger cubs born since the lockdown now reaching young adult stage, we have many more wild tigers to keep safe, so your help is crucial. Your gift today, however large or small can make a huge difference as to whether Bandhavgarh’s wild tigers can survive the unprecedented threats they face:
- A gift of £10 ($14) will provide 3 nutritious hot meals each for two anti-poaching patrollers who protect wild tigers.
- A gift of £25 ($31) will help us to pay a patrolling team for a day
- A gift of £30 ($37) will provide a day’s hot nutritious meals for a patrolling team whilst they work
- A gift of £45 ($56) will ensure that a team of anti-poaching patrollers can reach a remote location for a day’s patrolling
- A gift of £100 ($125) will enable a team of patrollers to cover 125km (78 miles) of wild tiger territory in a day
- A monthly gift of £12 (US$15) per month will help us to pay an anti-poaching patroller for 35 days per year.
Making your Gift Count Twice or More
Your new online monthly gift of £12 (US$15) per month won’t just help us to pay an anti-poaching patroller protecting wild tigers for 35 days per year; it will also qualify for a 100% match bonus on the first donation amount if you keep donating for 4 months or longer. That means when you donate at £12 (US$15) monthly in month 4 we will receive an extra £12 (US$15) from GlobalGiving to help us save wild tigers. Thus there has never been a better time to start a new monthly donation than now. On 12 July 2023, GlobalGiving is adding matched funding bonuses to new online donations we receive which are above $100 (£80) and up to $1000 (£800) (whilst matched bonus funding lasts); donations above $1000 (£800) will receive $500 (£400) bonus matched funds regardless of the donation value. This is an excellent time to give, especially if you want to make a larger donation. Nonetheless we welcome all donations little or large as even a £5 or $10 donation can make a huge difference to keeping wild tigers safe.
Without our help, we know that more wild tigers will die; and more humans will be mauled or killed due to encroachment or human-tiger conflict. Sadly, with every human life lost comes another threat to the wild tiger’s survival in the form of retaliation; thus we must protect both if we are to ensure that wild tigers can have a wild future.
Please don’t hesitate if you can help, your donation can be the difference between life and death for a wild tiger, as it helps to increase our patrolling when it is most needed. Every tiger and every tiger cub counts. Thank you for making our fight against poachers, the changing climate and human-animal conflict possible.