How Tigers4Ever Makes a Difference in Wild Tiger Conservation25-Feb-2015
Tigers4Ever personnel are often asked how does the work which Tigers4Ever does help to save tigers in the wild, so as part of our series of features to answer this and other questions, and to demonstrate how your donations really can make a big difference to our wild tiger conservation work we?ll be addressing this point. We have been discussing our work and how it makes a difference in saving wild tigers in a new series of blogs in the News Section of our website. Recently we discussed the provision of head torches and we?re delighted to say that our fundraising campaign is going well and we?ll be able to provide 28 high quality waterproof head torches and batteries for Tiger poaching Patrollers in Bandhavgarh in 2015. Tigers4Ever would like to thank everyone who donated to help make this possible. Tigers4Ever is continuing its fundraising campaign for head torches and hopes to raise a further £730 to fund the rest of the torches needed by the tiger poaching patrollers over the coming weeks. In this article we?ll be discussing how we have made a difference overall because sometimes it is easy to overlook the bigger picture and see how small things really can make a big difference in wild tiger conservation. Education Tigers4Ever is committed to providing education to the young people living in the villages surrounding wild tiger territories so that they may understand the importance of wild tiger conservation. Firstly some background information: In 2011, the Census determined the literacy rate in Madhya Pradesh to be 70.6% compared to 63.7% 10 years earlier (2001). Demographically this equates to 60% literacy in females and 80.5% in males. Literacy statistics include all persons aged 7+ who can read and write in any language (State Resource Centre, Madhya Pradesh, India). Education is free for children in India until they reach the age of 14. In rural communities, families often have 6 or more children and it is normal practice for these children to be involved in working the land owned by their families. Many rural families are poor and cannot afford to send their children to school as families need to provide books and writing materials for their children to use at school. In rural communities, employment opportunities for illiterate individuals are limited. Tigers4Ever believes that education is fundamental to wild tiger survival as many of the villagers living in these rural communities don?t know or realise just how few wild tigers are left in the wild, and more importantly don?t understand how critical tigers are to maintaining a healthy eco-system. In some villages, people just see tigers (and leopards) as a nuisance which comes into their village and kills their livestock for an easy meal. So when the tiger eats poisonous meat and dies they see it as a bonus until the next one comes along and the circle repeats. Tigers4Ever visits these villages talking with the senior representatives of the village and explaining how tiger survival in the forests is not only beneficial to the tiger but to the villagers as well (Tigers4Ever has two representatives in India, fluent in the local dialects, who visit the villages with Tigers4Ever representatives from the UK). In support of our discussions we provide education packs for all the children in the visited villages to enable them to attend the state schools. These education packs are divided into two categories: younger children (under 10) and older children (aged 10 upwards). Those for younger children are filled with appropriate books teaching them how to read and write (in both Hindi and English) and writing materials to supplement their learning. The Education packs for older children also include books teaching terms in Hindi and English together with writing materials and maths books to supplement their learning. In addition, the education packs for older children also contain an ecology text book which teaches them about the forest and its flora and fauna. The ecology book explains how every action in the forest has a consequence on a delicately balanced ecosystem, e.g. killing tigers and other predators leads to a boom in the number of herbivores (prey base) which in turn will enter the villages to eat crops when their own food is scarce. Thus by keeping tigers alive herbivore (deer, etc) numbers are controlled and the risk of crop destruction reduces. Tigers4Ever believes that these children will use reverse education (children teaching adults) to show their families the importance of tiger survival in the wild. Tigers4Ever also believes that by gaining education these children will appreciate just how few tigers are left in the wild and the importance of ensuring their survival. Tigers4Ever also hopes that by providing education opportunities to these children their employment opportunities will be enhanced thus reducing the pressure on the land (and forest) of an ever increasing population which resorts to working the land for survival. Tigers4Ever also provides 3 funded scholarships annually at the Bandhavgarh School of Art to ensure that 3 young people each year have an opportunity to develop their artistic abilities and ultimately enhance their career opportunities. Since 2012 Tigers4Ever has provided over 900 education packs for the children of Khursarvah, Rancha, Patour, Dobha, Kachhauhan, Damna, and Gata villages together with the three communities which comprise Ghanghod village, and for the children of the forest patrollers who protect the wild tigers from poachers and retaliatory attacks. In 2013-2014 Tigers4Ever funded Scholarships for Three Students: Praveen Chaturvedi, Nitin Berman and Sonali Berman, at the Bandhavgarh School of Art; and in 2014-2015 Tigers4Ever funded Scholarships for Three Students: Praveen Chaturvedi, Nitin Berman and Akash Upadhyay. Through education Tigers4Ever has already made a difference to the lives of almost 1000 young people and will continue its commitment to education in 2015-2016. Equipment for Tiger Poaching Patrols Firstly, some background: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is 1395 km2 of mixed terrain with predominantly Sal and Bamboo forest spread for miles around Bandhavgarh Fort. Bandhavgarh has upwards of 1300 mm (52 inches) of rainfall annually 90% of which falls between mid-June and late September. Temperatures can range from 2°C - 48°C (35.6°F - 119°F) with the hottest months from March to June. There are some 76 villages in and around Bandhavgarh National Park with upwards of 57000 livestock. The Fauna of Bandhavgarh National Park includes: Tiger, leopard, wild dog, wolf, hyena, jackal, jungle cat (all predators), sloth bear, nilgai (blue bull), chital (spotted deer), sambar, Muntjac (barking deer), four-horned antelope, Indian gazelle, wild boar, common langur and rhesus macaque. The majority of tiger poaching patrollers cover the vast territory of their beats on foot walking through dense bamboo in search of poachers and their traps. It is necessary for the poaching patrollers to move bamboo aside with their bare hands whilst keeping vigilant against attacks by animals as well as poachers. Traditionally, poaching patrols carry a small wooden axe in one hand to protect themselves, at night this was supplemented with a hand held flashlight or torch. This doesn?t allow them to keep one hand free for clearing their pathway or to use a radio if they need to call for help. The tiger forests are only illuminated by moonlight and starlight from dusk until dawn as mains electricity is not available in the jungle, so torch light is also an essential commodity at field stations and outlook posts. The boundaries to the national park are not all fenced, albeit where chain link fencing does exist wildlife including tigers can jump over this despite it being 2m (approx. 8 feet) high. Many boundaries are simple trenches designed to prevent cattle and domestic buffalo wandering into the forest to graze. The boundaries between the forest and the agricultural land of the villages are frequently open so movement of people and livestock into the forest and that of predators and prey into the villages is a recurring problem. Cattle trenches separate the agricultural land of the villages from the area of the National Park which is designated core tiger territory. Designed to stop cattle wandering into the forest, they are no obstacle to wildlife going the other way, with deer and primates enticed by crops and predators in pursuit of prey. No fencing is better for diversity of the wildlife gene pool but can lead to man-tiger conflict. Tigers4Ever is sometimes asked to provide assistance for loss of life/livestock when official compensation is either not forthcoming or delayed. Making a payment like this can save the life of one or more tigers because it helps to prevent retaliatory attacks on the tiger. Poaching patrols also play a vital role in the prevention of retaliatory attacks by villagers on tigers by increasing patrols to prevent the tiger re-entering the village and prevent villagers entering the forest, and by destroying the remains of any livestock carcass so that the tiger(s) will not eat poisoned meat upon their return. It is necessary for these increased patrols to be available around the clock in all weather conditions so a variety of equipment is required to aid patrollers at different times of day and night and year. Waterproof jackets, waterproof trousers, snake-proof socks, mosquito nets, bicycles and head-torches/flashlights are vital during the monsoon months, whilst bicycles and head-torches are invaluable year round. A first Aid kit is often required to deal with injuries sustained on patrol together with a supply of anti-malaria tablets as prophylaxis in case of mosquito bites. Tigers4Ever has provided 90 head torches and 390 batteries since 2013for forest patrols protecting wild tigers. In February 2014, the alpha male tiger, Bamera entered a house in the village of Kachhauhan near Bandhavgarh National Park and killed 2 cows. The incident struck terror into the inhabitants of the village and eventually forest officials using elephants drove Bamera away from the village and back into the forest. In June 2014 Tigers4Ever distributed 90 education packs to the children of Kachhauhan village. Tigers4Ever talked to the villagers about the importance of wild tiger survival and conservation projects. Villagers in Kachhauhan live in fear of tigers and leopards taking their livestock, so it is important to monitor and respond quickly to situations of man-animal conflict to reduce the risk of a bleak outcome for the tiger. Tigers4Ever has also provided insect proofed clothing, mosquito nets, 100 First Aid Kits, 8 bicycles, 150 waterproof jackets and 150 pairs of waterproof trousers since in 2011, and a bereavement payment to the widow and son of Jamuna Yadav who had been killed by the male tiger Bokkha whilst grazing his cattle. Official compensation had been delayed and the money provided by Tigers4Ever was sufficient to compensate for loss of income for several months until Government compensation monies arrived. Tigers4Ever sources its high quality head torches (manufactured in France) in the United Kingdom and then ships them to India for distribution to poaching patrols. Tigers4Ever sources all other equipment for poaching patrols (including batteries for head torches) and education pack contents locally in India. It is the Tigers4Ever policy to support local businesses through its charitable enterprises. Tigers4Ever believes that by supporting local businesses all parties have a vested interest in wild tiger survival and thus greater support for conservation efforts can be achieved. On 20 January 2015, Tigers4Ever received proof that wild tiger conservation efforts are working in India with tiger numbers up to 2226 from 1785 at the last census in 2011. Please help Tigers4Ever to build on this success and continue to save wild tigers from the brink of extinction by donating now at: http://www.tigers4ever.org/donations.html and helping to fund our vital conservation work. Thank you Tigers4Ever
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