Newsletters

Newsletter Number Twenty-One



Summer 2017



Dear Friends:


          With great fanfare it was announced last year that the worldwide tigers numbers had increased to 3890. It’s fair to ask just where they are. By far the most are in South Asia, the sub-species panthera tigris tigris, commonly known as the Bengal tiger: India-2226, Nepal-198, Bhutan-103, and Bangladesh- 106 for a total of 2633. Most of the remaining Indo-Chinese sub-species are in Thailand with 189. There are no viable populations left in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The Siberian tiger is found mostly in remote eastern Russian and the far NE China and thought to have 440. The Malaysian tiger numbers are at 250, and the Sumatran at 371. The South China sub-species is also considered extinct, following the path of the Caspian, Javan and Bali tigers. There are no reliable numbers out of Burma, which has the Bengal sub-species in the West and the Indo-Chinese sub-species in the East. These statistics come from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). So of all the remaining wild tigers in the world, 58% are in India alone and 68% are of the Bengal tiger sub species in India, Nepal. Bhutan and Bangladesh.

 

According to a report from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, “In 2016 the number of poaching and trade incidents in India surged to their highest levels in 15 years as organized gangs of poachers roamed the country targeting vulnerable populations. The poachers are meeting continued demand for tiger skins, bones and other body parts primarily from China. Wild tigers are smuggled over the Himalayas to feed demand in China, where their skins are used for luxury home décor, their bones are used to produce traditional medicine and their teeth and claws are turned into amulets and jewelry.”

 

That there is no market for tiger products in South Asia gives credence to what we have written since 1994.  The great wildlife reserves of India and Nepal have become shopping malls to satisfy a market far, far away and Nepal sits clearly on the smuggling route to extinction.

 

By no means is it just the tiger that is under assault. A June 23rd report cites a 121% increase over last year of seized live and dead wildlife products being smuggled to China from India through Nepal, Bhutan and the Assam corridor: gecko, tortoise, turtle, peacock, hare, mongoose, dove, snakes, rhino, leopard, all species of deer, pangolins, elephant parts, and, of course, tigers. The good news of this data means that the enforcement agencies along the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border are doing a better job, according to Tito Joseph of the WPSI. The bad news merely highlights the savage assault on the animal kingdom to satisfy a market far away. Wildlife trade is the 4th largest illicit trade in the world, after drugs, guns and human trafficking, thought to be $15 billion a year.

 

Probably no place on earth is there a more egregious assault on the dignity of the animal kingdom than in Northern Laos at a place called the Kings Romans Group resort, run by and catering to, Chinese. A 12-square mile area leased from Laos by a Hong-Kong Based Co. in Bokeo Province, Laos, and called the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone. As reported in a June 5th story in the New York Times, the King Romans Group resort not only has a casino, a cock and bull fighting ring, but endless cages of tigers and other animals awaiting their certain fate. The resort offered plates of bear paw, pangolin and sautéed tiger meat paired with tiger bone wine.  A New York Time photographer was offered a shot of tiger bone wine for $20 and plates of tiger meat for $45.  As repulsive as all this sounds, The Times’ story ends with a call for introspection from the United States. Though there is no market in the United States for tiger products, it is a bizarre and perplexing fact that there are thought to be more than 5000 captive tigers in the United State in zoos, on private ranches, sanctuaries and at various roadside attractions. 3890 wild tigers in the forests and jungles of Asia and over 5000 in the U.S.!! Anything wrong with this picture??

 

Meanwhile, where the stripes are, this is what The Fund for the Tiger is doing to help:

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INDIA

            The Investigation into Poaching and the Illegal Trade in Wild Tigers has been the signature campaign of the Wildlife Protection Society of India [WPSI] since its inception and The Fund for The Tiger has helped to fund it since 1996.

 

            In spite of all the hoopla about greater tiger numbers worldwide, in India, where over half of the world’s remaining wild tigers live, 2016 was a very bad year. WPSI statistics recorded an overall mortality of 132 tigers- 50 known to be by poaching. As of June 1, the 2017 numbers are a bit better with 63 tigers lost-18 to poaching.

 

With assistance and information from WPSI, enforcement authorities registered 11 wildlife crime cases between January and May 2017, eight in India and three in Nepal. These cases led to the arrest of 25 alleged wildlife criminals. On May 15th, the WPSI, in co-ordination with Nepal Police, did an operation that resulted in the seizure of 3 leopard skins and 6.6 kgs. of leopard bones and the skin of a large tiger. During interrogation it was revealed that the tiger was shot at Sukla Phanta National Park in far western Nepal and that the bones were still buried there.

 

Across the Central India tiger landscape, things have been relatively quiet the past few years largely due to several major sting operations, seizures, and arrests inspired by WPSI intelligence. There are now ominous signs that the lull in tiger poaching activity is about to be shattered. The bones from two tigers were seized on June 27th at Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. The tigers were killed in early June by tribal fishermen. And there is disturbing intelligence coming out of Andhra Pradesh that the infamous Bawariya tiger poaching gang has zeroed in on Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve. One of the gang members is said to have been involved in the WPSI-assisted five tiger skin and tiger bone seizures near Corbett in March last year. Clearly the work of the Wildlife Protection Society of India is of critical importance more than ever.

 

 

THE BONDOMOBILE

 

         In March, 2011, The Fund For The Tiger, in partnership with The American Himalayan Foundation, and with the generous support of David Bonderman, launched a new Tiger Conservation Awareness Program in Central India with the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), codenamed Operation Bondomobile. The program uses an audio-visual van, painted with a band of tiger stripes, systematically driven to villages fringing the tiger reserves of Bandhavgarh and Kanha, to screen a local language film on tiger conservation and to dialogue with local communities about their wildlife-related problems. The Bondomobile program has proven to be even more successful than anticipated. Apart from creating large-scale awareness of the plight of the tiger in the tiger reserve fringe villages, the Bondomobile has helped address the deeply rooted issue of corruption, while becoming a true ombudsman in airing grievances between the villagers and the Forest Department.

        

Bondomobile One travelled across the Bandhavgarh tiger landscape between January and May 2017 and conducted 59 film screenings and meetings for an audience of approximately 11,255 villagers and 43 Forest Department officials. Additionally, the van visited 15 weekly markets where the team distributed 4,150 cards providing information about the Secret Information Reward Scheme.

           

Building on the success of Bondomobile One, there are now two other vans in operation to include Kanha Tiger Reserve, Tadoba Tiger Reserve, and the Kanha-Pench corridor.  Bondomobile Two is also funded by The American Himalayan Foundation and David Bonderman. Between January and May 2017, the three vans under the Awareness Program conducted a total of 228 film screenings and meetings for a huge audience of approximately 40,570 villagers and 354 Forest Department officials. The vans also covered 40 weekly markets, where the team distributed 12,050 cards. WPSI received 27 alerts through our Secret Information Reward Scheme between January and May 2017. These included 7 alerts on poaching and other alerts on timber theft, mining and similar concerns.

 

            The WPSI’s team in Central India conducted 9 anti-poaching training workshops for enforcement officials between January and May 2017. The workshops were attended by 534 Forest Department and Police officials.

 

            We continue to support the work of Avinash Basker, WPSI’s Chief Legal Counsel and the WPSI team of lawyers prosecuting wildlife crime cases throughout India. Since 2001 we have been supporting a permanent operative working in and around the Bandhavgarh area.  Originally hired to be “eyes and ears” at Bandhavgarh, this gentleman now provides invaluable assistance across central India to the WPSI Director of Central India Operations, the indefatigable hero in the trenches, Nitin Desai.

 

             

NEPAL

           

            That Nepal remains clearly in the crosshairs of the smuggling routes north from India to China underscores the importance of having the cooperation and support of local communities in the protection of tiger habitat. With that in mind, in May of 2009, The Fund for The Tiger began funding the Community Based Anti-poaching Unit (CBAPU) at Dalla in the southwestern corner of Bardia National Park. In March of this year, I visited the CBAPU [Community Based Anti Poaching Unit] post at Dalla that we helped launch in 2009. The Army Commander for Bardia, Lt. Col. Rajendra Pant and Chief Conservation Officer of the National Trust for Nature Conservation, Ambika Katiwada, accompanied me. It pays to travel with an Army Commander with an AK-47 bearing bodyguard. According to Pant, the disruption of the wildlife crime group in early 2016 has resulted in no tigers being poached in the past 15 months. The WPSI was involved here in the Dhangadhi arrests of February 11 in which 6 Indians and two Nepalis were arrested with two tiger skins and 39.5 kgs. of tiger bones, and our CBAPU youth patrol routed out a suspicious group of Indian tribals carrying poaching equipment- snares and traps.  There were 17 tigers in Bardia in 2009 and now there are 56 adults, 85 counting sub-adults and cubs, and 34 rhinos. According to Pant, “Using the community is the key factor in conservation.” When the CBAPU idea was first launched at Dalla in 2009 there were 25 young people. There are now 79 youths working out of Dalla and 15-20 at a time go out on patrols with armed soldiers. There are now 90 CBAPU’s with 2500 youths operating in the great Bardia landscape. At our meeting, I heard two examples of upward mobility that are very encouraging. A founding secretary of the Dalla post in 2009 is now Chairman of the Buffer Zone Committee for all of Bardia. One chap at the meeting, Hemant Acharya, whose father was killed by a wild elephant, is now co-ordinator for all 90 CBAPU’s.  Niraj, a chap I recognized from previous meetings has been at Dalla since 2009 and  told me, “Belonging to the CBAPU gives legitimacy in working with the Army and National Park. Why do we do this? These are our animals. The poachers come from outside. It is our responsibility to protect our animals.”

 

            For several years we have been funding the work of Baburam Mahato, lead camera tracker and tiger monitor, and his team and their results have been significant, proving that Chitwan National Park and the buffer zones around Meghauli and Madi villages have a healthy tiger population. Our project is a continuation of the Smithsonian tiger-monitoring project started by Chuck McDougal in the 1970’s and now supervised by Dr. Bhim Gurung from Minnesota We received a wonderful report on May 13th that confirms all the resident tigers have been accounted for but that 6 cameras had been damaged by a wild elephant and one was thought to have been stolen by a tiger. The search is on for that camera to try to identify the culprit. Never a dull moment when trying to choreograph tiger “selfies”.

 

            In 2009, we started the Community Based Anti-Poaching program at Meghauli Village, adjacent to Chitwan, and it has been positively received. We are currently funding 2 ban heralus, or forest watchers, who assist Baburam in his tiger monitoring work, investigating incidents of human-tiger conflict, perform public relations work with the local communities on the importance of the tiger and wildlife conservation in general, and assist Park officials in the arrest of those engaged in illegal activities.       

 

            We continue monthly allocations of funds to the Chief Wardens at Chitwan and Bardia for anti-poaching patrols and information gathering networks.

 

In a defiant and symbolic gesture expressing the government’s commitment to zero poaching and non-tolerance of wildlife crime, on May 22nd, at Chitwan National Park, Nepal burned over 4000 stockpiled animal parts collected over the past 20 years. The pile included 67 tiger skins, 418 leopard pelts, 357 rhino horns, as well as snow leopard and red panda pelts, python skins, leopard bones, tiger claws, musk deer glands, pangolin and tortoise scales, and dried sea horses. Their 1100 kgs. of elephant tusks could not be burned due to the intense heat required to do so.            

 

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    The Tigers of Bandhavgarh

 

            Since 1994, I have taken 199 people on 21 trips to see the tigers at Bandhavgarh. This is for you. There has yet to emerge a dominant male tiger in the core area of Bandhavgarh like Charger, B-2 or Bamera. The tiger population is very healthy, at maximum capacity, with lots of young ones. I sat down with Jagat, our naturalist extraordinaire, and made a list of at least 19 breeding adults, six males and 13 females, with another 29 tigers of varying ages from 3 months to 3 years.  48 tigers in the Tala, Magdhi, and Khitouli zones. There are 3 big male sub-adults roaming the meadows behind the Fort. Samrat, the lovely young male we saw wapping his tail on the road and drinking from the water at Sita Mandap in 2016, developed a fondness for going into the local villages in search of food. After he spent several days hunkered down in the old Maharaja’s compound where we stayed for many years, the officials decided to move him to the far southern sector of Kalwah. On our drive out of town at the end of our visit, a large male crossed the road in front of our bus, walked alongside at the edge of the forest, and crossed the road again behind. It was an auspicious end to our visit.  I think this was the son of Chorebera, the lovely tigress who was killed in a savage territorial battle in 2011. She had two cubs, a male and female, who in an act of instinctual survival, left the Tala area and settled into the forest west of the town of Tala.

                                               

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JAIBAGH- the email address of The Fund For The Tiger, means “long live the tiger” in the Nepali language. Please check out our website with expanded essays and photographs at: www.thefundforthetiger.org. Also please notice that we have added a DONATE button on our home page for easier contributions.

 

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GRATITUDES:

 

•Thanks to Mountain Travel Sobek for continuing to operate the fundraising Save The Tiger trip in support of The Fund for The Tiger.  The trip, which visits Bandhavgarh National Park in India and Bardia National Park in Nepal, is an excellent way for people to travel into the heart of tiger country, see a tiger in the wild, meet those working at ground zero to preserve and protect this magnificent animal, and make a significant contribution to tiger conservation work.  I created this trip in 1994 and it has taken 199 people into the land of the tiger and generated $307,762 towards tiger conservation.  The next Save The Tiger trip will be March 13-March 27, 2018. Information about this trip and a detailed itinerary, can be found on the MTS website [mtsobek.com]. There are only a few spaces left for 2018!

 

•A special thank you to the American Himalayan Foundation for its generous assistance over the years and to its Director David Bonderman for launching Operation Bondomobile.

 

•The Fund for The Tiger was incorporated in the State of California as a non-profit public charity in August, 1995.  I am extremely pleased to be able to say that as of June 30, 2017, we have been able to give $995,193 to help tiger conservation work in India and Nepal. We are helping the right people working at ground zero, boots on the ground, to preserve and protect the wild tiger in South Asia!  To those of you who have contributed to this, our heartfelt THANK YOU!

 

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If you wish to help, please send your contribution to The Fund for The Tiger at P. O. Box 2, Woodacre, California, 94973 or go to the Donate button on our website. The Fund For The Tiger is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity registered in the State of California.  Your contribution is deductible for tax purposes within the limits of the law.

                                               

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The Fund For The Tiger would like to thank all those listed below who have made contributions in 2016 and through June of 2017.  Your support is greatly appreciated.


Mountain Travel Sobek/Save the Tiger trip

The American Himalayan Foundation

David Bonderman/The American Himalayan Foundation

Vinod Gupta/World Education Foundation

Scott McDougal/World Charity Foundation

Dean Alper/Alper Family Foundation

The McDougal Foundation/Scott McDougal

Ann Nichols

Bobbie Bynum

Anne T. Murphy

Tom & Gwen Price/Price Trust

Bill & Meredith Bishop

Erica Stone

Mike & Janet Finn

Stuart & Carla Gordon

Delanie Read

William C. Gordon

Robert J. Waller & Linda Bow

Ernest & Leslie Zomalt

Joan Edmunds

Ted Baglin

Joyce Black

Anne & Frank Hayden

Mary Lynn Parodi in honor of Daria, Denali,

Avery, Drew, David, Denise, Emily & Brian

Susette Lyons

Wallace Mc Ouat & Claire Young

Barbara Endean

Tom McCormack

Dudley & Mari Houghton 

Rob & Suzanne Mellor

Sandra Sizer

Cynthia Richards

Betty Block

Nancy Weirum

Laura & Michael Kurinij

Joanne Best

Michael & Vivian Bronshvag

Robert & Michelle Friend Foundation

Jim Fayollat & Dasha Jamiyan

Joan Wager

V. Ozanne Ogier

Mike Orszag

Ruth Scott

Alan & Lynn Charne

Pat Van Buren

Quinn James

David Mourning

Terry & Jenifer Readdick

Carol Holt Bedell

Sharon & Jeff Morris

Lori Ravit

Marcia & Nat Schmelzer

Kay Klumb

Janet Westin Bicker

Dolores Hovey

Mike & Billie Strauss

Sheila Blake

Phil & Debra White

Aimee & Harold Whitman

Rusty Gutwillig

Stephen & Britt Thal

Jonathan & Betty Calvert

Diana Cunningham

Neil & Anne Harper

Bob & Debby Law

Carla Buchanan

Brenda Schmidt

Sarah Lichtenstein

Alfred E. Janssen

Susan L. Burrell & Don Kerson

Jim & Janice Borrow

Howard E. Horner

Butch Lama & Susi Allison/Wild India LLC

Warren Perry

John & Jeri Flinn

James & Wenda O’Reilly

Larry Habegger

Alice Treinis

Gina & Quintan Park

Rod Sacconaghi

Tom Harriman

Tyler Glenn

Ron & Erica Rubenstein

Jim & Sheila Davidson

Kouji & Mary Nakata

John & Lela Larkin

Larry & Phyllis Despain

Gail Billions Thompson

Stephanie Legras

Susan Cook Shumway

Sari Sheer & Sam Kopel Family Fund

Doris Litton

Susan Kay & Jeffrey S. Rudsten Trust

Jonathan Rigg

Mary S. Risley

George  Crispo

ATT Employee Giving/Anon.

Anne L. Hoffman

Richard & Carolyn Egan

Eve Bergeron

Hal Campbell

Laura Neta-Temple

Benevity Community Impact Fund

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Marco Mendoza/Corporate Giving

Mike & Randy Groza

Nick Javaras

Wick Polite

Jack & Pam Toevs

John & Patricia Bennan

Kevin & Dyanne Howley

Margaret Hoffberger

Karen Shirley

Stacy Basham Wagner

David Lee Hoffman/The Phoenix Collection

G. David Austin

Doug Murken

Brad Newsham

Allen Sanford

Christina Taft

Jigme & Nima Raptentsetsang

Lawrence E. Fahn

Doug & Carolen Hurst

Steve & Vicki Beck

Heidi & Mark Krahling

Mary & Jarrett Wyant

Christine Kromer

Rene Kunz

Rachel Peterson

Raymond Steele

Suzanne Drexel

David Erickson

Jan Lecklikner

Paul ‘L.P.’ Hansen

David Ginsburg & Marie Hattar

Nancy Vergara

Ralph Eschenbach & Carol Provan

Jennifer Balijko

John Taylor

Gerald & Shela Bordin

Louise Ransom

N.T. Ricker

Tom & Carolyn Westhoff

Margary L. Gotshall in honor of Lee Gotshall-Maxon

Ebay Foundation

Your Cause/Various/Anonymous

Elizabeth Muench

Duke Energy/Jarrett Wyant