Droughts, Fires and Elephants
Sometimes we wonder whether the droughts which are getting longer and harder for the wildlife of Bandhavgarh are wholly down to climate change or whether something else is in the mix. We wrote our last waterhole project update just five and a half weeks ago, but it seems like longer given what has happened since. If you read that report you’ll remember that wild elephants had damaged the solar-pump systems at two of our major waterhole sites leaving six of our wildlife waterholes dry. Work started on the repairs as soon as we had raised sufficient funds, we encountered an unexpected problem when we discovered that sand had entered the bore-well during the time when it wasn’t working, but we got an engineer on site to clear the bore-well before reconnecting the pump to the newly repaired solar system. As a result, the repairs took a little longer than anticipated but I’m pleased to say that there is water in all six of the waterholes filled by the two solar-pump systems and they are being used by tigers and other wild animals again. We’re in the process of completing the elephant proof fencing around the solar pump systems as I write.
Devastation and Restoration
If you follow our social media channels, you’ll also know about the forest fires which ravaged miles of wild tiger habitat for four days at the end of March and beginning of April. These fires have decimated the jungle destroying more than a third of the core forest and buffer forest too. Thousands of animals including wild tigers were displaced by the fires whilst others were too small or too vulnerable to flee, thus perishing in the flames and smoke. Many birds, reptiles, small mammals and insects were lost in the fires and the important roles which they played in seed dispersal and forest regeneration have been lost too. Since the fires were quashed, we’ve already received reports from our patrollers that two tigers and three leopards have died as a result of displacement and territorial conflict. One leopard was found in a fire affected area of forest, her fur blackened by smoke, she had succumbed to smoke inhalation. Many primate families have been displaced too. Rebuilding their forest homes will not happen overnight, but we plan to plant as many trees as we are able to do so we can restore the forest and provide food and habitat for the future generations of wildlife so dependent on the trees for life. By planting these trees, we’ll also be helping to address the issue of climate change too, as the saplings grow and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere around them.
The Risk of Retaliatory Poisoning and Poaching is High
In the short term, more permanent wildlife waterholes are essential to prevent the inevitable tiger-tiger and human-animal conflict, which will arise due to the animals being displaced by the fires, from leading to more tiger deaths. We plan to start work within two weeks on installing a solar powered bore-well pump system at a large waterhole, which is currently being filled by water tankers, and is used by at least 42 elephants and 8 wild tigers plus countless other animals which have been displaced by the fires. If you have been following our newsletters for some time, you will know that tankers are a short-term solution because they habitualise wild tigers to large human vehicles thus making it easier for poachers to strike. However, one waterhole is nowhere near enough to reduce the conflict caused by the displaced wildlife encroaching on the territories of others and humans, so we need your help to be able to do at least one more waterhole, in addition to our current plan, before it is too late for the displaced wild tigers and other wildlife. With your help, we can raise enough money to start work at a second site which will benefit another 10 wild tigers including cubs too.
You Can Help us to Make a Huge Difference Right Now
Last week, we took part in GlobalGiving’s Climate Action Campaign and managed to raise just over half of the funds we need to start work on another waterhole in the next month. So now we need to raise another £1400 as quickly as possible so we can start work at the second site, saving the lives of at least 10 more wild tigers.
The Wild Elephants Have Done It Again
Last week, we also received news that the wild elephants have entered an area of the forest where they have never been before, due to their displacement by the recent forest fires, and have damaged the solar bore-well pump system at another of our waterhole sites! This damage could lead to two more waterholes running dry within the next fortnight, and leaving up to 12 tigers including cubs to enter the nearby villages in search of food and water! We were planning to erect elephant proof fencing at this site, as a precaution, once the repairs at the other sites were complete, but the elephants attacked before we could. It is likely that we will need to raise another £600 to complete these additional repairs too.
Many Challenges Ahead
We need to quadruple our efforts to keep wild tigers safe right now. We’re increasing our anti-poaching patrols to 2.5 times normal levels to address the increased risk of retaliatory poisoning and poaching of wild tigers. With your help, we will be able to complete our next waterhole project (and hopefully two) and the repairs needed where the elephants have damaged the solar pump system which currently fills two waterholes, which in turn would help us to keep at least 30 wild tigers safe.
Here are some of the ways your donations will help us to save wild tigers:
- £120 will help to drill and line 12 metres (39 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;
- £75 can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;
- £600 will enable us to repair the damaged solar-powered pump system and provide water for at least 12 wild tigers including cubs.
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 tigers can live peacefully and those who live beside them can protect their livelihoods.
The Drought Season is Back
Just over 2 months ago we received a stark reminder of just how essential our permanent wildlife waterholes are when wild elephants damaged the solar pump systems at two locations rendering the pump systems inoperable. Within two weeks the waterholes at 6 locations were dry, just like the many streams, rivers and natural waterholes around Bandhavgarh as the hot dry weather takes hold. We set up a micro-project to fund the repairs and thanks to the generosity of our donors were able to start work so wild tigers like the family above can cool off in the heat of the day.
The incident highlighted something which when we first installed our solar-powered pump systems wasn’t a problem: wild elephant damage. Wild elephants are relatively new in Bandhavgarh as the herds only arrived from the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh when mining activity disrupted their former home. These elephants took a liking to Bandhavgarh and stayed, the herds are now growing as new calves are born so it is definitely something we need to think about going forward. We did some research and found that two environmentally friendly elephant proof fencing options are available so the repaired solar-powered borehole pump systems and all those at future waterholes will incorporate either chilli fencing or bee-hive fencing to deter the elephants from causing future damage. We will also be talking with the villagers whose crops were decimated by elephants in 2020 to encourage them to protect their 2021 crops with either of these options too. An added bonus for the villagers is that deer don’t like chilli peppers either so growing chilli peppers along fences around seasonal crops will reduce crop raiding too. In a time when the economic impact of COVID19 is still devastating the wider tiger community every little help can make a huge difference. The protective fencing whether bee-hive or chilli peppers will also generate something else for the villagers to sell, thus reducing their dependency on scarce forest resources; and in turn reduces the human-animal conflict which inevitably increases with human encroachment.
The speed in which our waterholes became dry was frightening, such is the impact of climate change, that February is now hotter and drier whilst marking the onset of the drought which will plague the wildlife and human communities for the next four months. It reminded us that more wildlife waterholes are essential to address the impact of climate change, and that the drought isn’t going to wait until we are ready, we must act now.
16 Wild Tigers and Cubs need your help
There are 16 tigers with cubs which face daily challenges of either human-animal or tiger-tiger conflict due to a lack of water in the home territories, we urgently need to do something before these tigers start to lose their lives. The impact of COVID19 has made it difficult to raise funds from corporate sources to make the next waterhole happen, so we are turning to you, as small businesses for help as we need to raise another £1400 so we can start work on our next permanent wildlife waterhole project immediately and save the lives of these 16 wild tigers and reduce the risk of human-animal conflict increasing in the nearby villages.
Small businesses like yours have helped us to keep our anti-poaching patrols going in the face of adversity throughout the COVID19 pandemic; and have helped us to replace worn out uniforms and boots; in addition to the essential repairs at two of our existing permanent wildlife waterholes too. We don’t want COVID19 and Climate Change to destroy the progress we have made in wild tiger conservation over the last 10 years and we want to ensure that our efforts to give wild tigers a wild future can keep gaining momentum. In spite of the challenges we have all faced over the last year, your collective spirit and generosity has been truly inspiring. Your donations and continued support over this time has strengthened our hope that when we pull through this pandemic, wild tigers will still thrive in the jungles of Bandhavgarh, and we will be able to carry on giving them a wild future. So on behalf of those tigers, we’d like to thank you for not forgetting that without your help we wouldn’t be able to keep them safe.
A Reminder of the Current Risks to wild Tigers we’re facing:
• Human-Animal conflict has increased with tiger attacks on humans being almost a weekly or more frequent event. Coupled with a farmer and a young girl being killed by marauding wild elephants as they tried to save their crops;
• Villagers poisoned a wild tigress and two of her cubs in a retaliatory attack due to persistent livestock killings;
• Wild elephants have decimated many paddy fields ruining the rice crops of multiple villagers which left them with both food and income shortages;
• Human encroachment continues to increase to unprecedented levels as precious forest resources are plundered to keep food on the table for families who haven’t had paid employment since 25 March 2020; and
• The 2021 drought season and the impact of Climate change is already here.
But it’s not all bad news for wild tigers
On a positive note, there have been some successes too:
• No wild tigers deaths due to poaching for 54 months;
• No retaliatory poisonings for 6 months;
• Anti-Poaching Patrols still doubled to protect wild tigers;
• Ten new tiger cubs born since the end of 2020;
• Patrollers at 4 remote camps have safe drinking water so no longer have to fill their drinking water bottles at the same waterholes used by tigers and other wildlife;
How you can help
We know that we need to quadruple our efforts to keep wild tigers safe right now. It is normal to double our efforts throughout the peak poaching season, but we could be facing another four to six months of the same difficult conditions we’ve already set out in this project newletter. So the best way to help us keep wild tigers safe is to fund our projects today, because tomorrow might be too late.
Here are some of the ways your donations help us to save wild tigers:
- £120 will help to drill & line 12 metres (39 feet) of bore-well to access underground water;
- £75 can pay a team of workers to prepare a site for a new waterhole for wild tigers;
- £500 will fund elephant proof fencing to protect the solar-pump systems at a permanent waterhole site.
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 tigers can live peacefully and those who live beside them can protect their livelihoods. Any and all donations are welcome.
Tigers4Ever Waterhole Project
3 years of poor monsoon rainfall has led to severe extended droughts in Bandhavgarh impacting all. Thirsty prey animals enter villages to drink & graze crops. Predators follow in search of food & take livestock. People can't afford to lose crops/livestock to wildlife so look to end the conflict by fair or foul means risking tigers' lives. Our project will provide solar-powered borehole pumps to bring underground water year-round for tigers & their prey thus reducing human-animal conflict.
Over the last 3 years Bandhavgarh has suffered from an acute water crisis due to erratic rainfall & long dry spells. Existing wildlife waterholes previously replenished by rainwater have become dry or almost dry. Wildlife now needs to look elsewhere for water which leads to increased human-animal conflict due to crop raiding and livestock predation. The project will provide water for up to 8 tigers and countless other wildlife whilst reducing human-animal conflict.
The project will provide a solar powered pump & a large waterhole for tigers/other wildlife. It uses underground streams to provide permanent water for wildlife. Surplus water returns via soakaway systems. We installed 3 systems & built a large waterhole with a solar pump filling 4 waterholes in 2018 critical for the survival of 47 tigers & reducing human-animal conflict . Donations will help to further reduce human-animal conflict & save more tigers & prey via the provision of year-round water.
The lives of thousands of wild animals including more than 100 wild tigers will be saved by the year round availability of water. It will lead to reduced human-animal conflict and will contribute to the conservation of the tigers' environment & sustainability through ecologically focused actions.