Newsletters

                      

                                                
Summer 2021
                                          

Dear Friends:

 

 This past year has been challenging for all of us and it is our sincerest hope this letter finds you all in good health. India and Nepal have been hit very hard by the Covid crisis and tiger conservation has understandably been affected as well.

 

NEPAL

With the global coronavirus crisis, there has been a rise in wildlife poaching. In April, six musk deer were found dead in traps laid by poachers during Covid-19 lockdown in Sagarmatha National Park (Mt. Everest).  For the first time in over half a decade, Nepal wasn’t able to celebrate zero rhino poaching when four adult rhinos were found dead in Chitwan National Park—shot for their horns. Recently, officials seized two tiger pelts in Dang. So far, 14 people involved in the crimes have been arrested, 12 individuals are on the run.  Police investigations reveal that the “big fish” are using social media networks to recruit locals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to kill rhinos, tigers and other wildlife in return for quick cash. 

Despite this uptick in poaching, Nepal continues to go a good job in wildlife conservation. Tiger numbers are up, wild elephant populations continue to roam and wreak havoc on occasion, and rhino numbers have increased. The latest census, completed in March of 2021, show rhino numbers at 752, up from 645 in the last census 5 years ago. The census did not go off without a hitch. In Chitwan, a wild bull elephant attacked the government elephants used in the census and the count had to be postponed until the big fellow moved on. At Bardia, a mahout was attacked and killed by a tiger while collecting grass for his elephant.

       A July 18th article in the Nepali Times titled, “Nepal’s Tiger Conservation Too Successful?” states that “Nepal is the first tiger range country to attain the international target of doubling the number of its tigers by 2022. A census three years ago counted 235 tigers in parks across the country, up from 121 in 2009. But Nepal may now be a victim of its own success — overcrowding in protected areas and a decrease in prey density means tigers are venturing out of the forests for food and coming into contact with humans.”  The buffer zones and community forests are critical, both for animals to disperse in search of habitat and prey, and for villages utilizing the forest for sustenance, particularly as local markets have been shuttered during the pandemic. The increase of conflict has made community-based wildlife conservation increasingly important. Hardest hit has been the Bardia landscape with at least 10 people killed by tigers in the last year. Most incidents have been in the Khatta Corridor, south of Bardia’s central forest along the India border. This is where our post at Dalla is located.  With the vision of Dr. Bhim Gurung, and in partnership with Nepal’s National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), The Fund for The Tiger funded the Community Based Anti-Poaching Unit (CBAPU) in 2009 at Dalla in the southwestern corner of Bardia National Park. Its effort is based on the premise that successful conservation depends upon the co-operation and participation of local communities around tiger habitat.  The idea met with resounding success and there are now 93 separate groups with almost 2500 youth volunteers working in conservation efforts across the Bardia landscape.  Our Bardia grant now includes extra funds to be used in an income generating scheme with support for goat farming and village sewing shops.  Hopefully this will encourage the young people to stay involved in community conservation efforts and will also provide an information gathering source. Rabin Kadariya of the N.T.N.C. wrote to Gurung earlier this year: “The major credit goes to you and Brian for the initiation of such participatory concept to mobilize village youths in anti-poaching activities and we are very thankful to you and The Fund for The Tiger for your continuous support to motivate these youth in wildlife conservation. More than 2400 youths!  I am very proud to be the part of Bardia CBAPU which is active, renowned (local, national and international level), and dedicated to wildlife conservation.”


       In 2018 we started a similar effort at Chitwan National Park in partnership with the Nepal Tiger Trust.  Recent activities included periodic anti-poaching patrols in conjunction with the Army as dictated by Covid shutdown requirements, environmental clean-up campaigns, and assisting the tiger monitoring and camera teams.


       And, thanks to Chuck McDougal, my late dear friend and mentor in the world of the tiger, who began monitoring Nepal’s tigers for the Smithsonian in 1977, we have continued to support the Long-Term  Tiger Monitoring project at Chitwan National Park. In spite of lockdowns due to Covid, Baburam, and Raju were able to complete the camera trapping in Meghauly Buffer Zone and survey tiger tracks (pug marks) in the buffer zone of western CNP. Our team is still out there, on their bicycles, analyzing pug marks and gettng some revealing photographs. Their efforts have recorded a healthy tiger population in the core of Chitwan National Park, Madi Valley, and adjacent buffer zones. On June 29, 2020, a tiger attacked an Army patrol in the heart of Chitwan. At the request of Park officials, our team of Baburam and Raju rushed to the scene and were able to ID the tigress by pug marks and nearby camera traps.  Follow-up tracking to assess her condition and possible reason for the attack proved unsuccessful. In March we received two gorgeous photos of male tigers roaming the forest, one known and one new to the area. These are the same camera trap chaps that brought us photos of a wild elephant ripping a camera off a tree, a tiger walking away with a camera strap hanging from its mouth, and a young cub walking up to the camera in typical kitty cat curiosity and putting its eyeball on the lens.

 

In the last week of May, Kunjok Lama was sentenced by a court in Nepal to 7 years in prison for trafficking tiger and leopard parts from India through Nepal to China.  He was initially arrested on June 25th, 2020, at his home in Boudha in the Kathmandu Valley. Lama (real name Kunjok Tsering Tamang) had been in the crosshairs of police in India and Nepal as well as Interpol for two decades. His name appeared in every major seizure of wildlife parts in the region before his arrest last year. The WPSI had been actively involved in all these cases in India, going back to Ghaziabad in 1999. Through their comprehensive Wildlife Crime Database that we have been supporting for years, they collaborated with Interpol and other enforcement agencies in investigations that led to the arrest of Lama.

INDIA

Since 1996 we have supported the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), arguably the most aggressive and hard-hitting non-governmental organization working to preserve and protect the endangered tiger. Founded by Belinda Wright in 1994, the WPSI operates a vast network of informants in the field that assists the Forest Department and local authorities in their arrests of wildlife criminals. Our support has funded their investigations of all wildlife crime throughout India; a comprehensive Wildlife Crime Database; a fleet of conservation awareness vans known as Bondomobiles which have proven extremely effective in gathering information and engendering local support for tiger conservation; and a permanent field officer in the Bandhavgarh area who runs the original Bondomobile One and assists in investigations and enforcement throughout the Central India tiger landscape.

On April 6th we received this alarming report from  Belinda Wright: “In the first three months of 2021, from 1 January to 31 March, we recorded 55 tiger deaths - this is a shocking number and nearly treble what it was over the same period last year! The major causes are electrocution and poison (connected to bushmeat poaching, or conflict with humans), a rising demand for tiger parts for tantrik rituals, tiger infighting and a growing number of tigers reported ‘found dead’ with no body parts missing and officially no discernible reason for their mortality. What is absolutely clear from the work we have done so far is that India cannot blame organised wildlife crime and the international trade in tiger parts for this current huge loss of wild tigers. Only one case, where a tiger skin and bones were seized in February 2021 in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, appears to be related to organised crime and the international trade in tiger parts. It is going to be very difficult to persuade the government that the problem is right here and home grown.”

In the first few weeks of 2021, WPSI investigations had just begun into this spate of tiger deaths when the Covid pandemic hit its worst peak and India basically had to shut down. As India begins to open up again, we stand prepared to assist the WPSI with this latest tiger crisis. The WPSI Director of Central India Operations had a very serious Covid illness in March but is now recovered and conducting anti-electrocution training for the staff of Pench Tiger Reserve. He sent me a message on July 22nd: “Things are still scary and fear is in the air. But the show must go on and by God it will, what with well-wishers like you on my side.”

 

In spite of the current pandemic challenges, India and Nepal remain the role models for effective tiger conservation. India now has over 3000 wild tigers and Nepal claims to have reached its goal of doubling its tiger population since the last Year of the Tiger in 2010. Over 70% of the remaining wild tigers in the world are in India and Nepal.

 

The Tigers of Bandhavgarh

 

            Since 1994, I have taken 221 people on 24 Mountain Travel Sobek tiger conservation trips to  Bandhavgarh, India, and Chitwan or Bardia, in Nepal.  The past two years have been unique as the coronavirus cut our trip short in 2020 and caused cancellation of the trip in 2021. It remains uncertain if South Asia will be safe enough for travel in 2022. In April I received an email from Jagat, our lead naturalist at Bandhavgarh. There have been some deaths and dispersals but lots of new young cubs coming along. Of particular interest to me is the lineage of one of my old favorites, Chorebera. Her son is now the reigning male in the Chakhadara area and her daughter has three new cubs. In 2019 we saw a lot of the tigress known as Spotty lounging on a road and walking through a popular stream. She now has three new cubs. In 2020 we saw 3 full grown male brothers of her sister. Two of the three have dispersed and she now has 4 young cubs. Tigers continue to do well at Bandhavgarh and are at maximum capacity.

 

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            “Nation, in big move, to end profiting in captive lions.” A headline in the May 10th San Francisco Chronicle tells the story of South Africa ending its captive lion industry, banning “canned hunts” and the sale of their bones and other parts for profit. South Africa has between 8,000 and 12,000 lions in captivity and is the only country doing intense breeding of lions.  This could have precedent-setting implications for tigers as the next world tiger summit is set for the Year of the Tiger in 2022.  At the last tiger summit in 2010, all tiger range states and major international conservation organizations bowed to Chinese pressure to not allow tiger farms to be discussed “in the interest of consensus”.  Hopefully South Africa’s action will embolden tiger-range nations and wildlife conservation organizations to have the courage to face the issue of Asian tiger farming head-on. There is no evidence that farming tigers helps wild tiger populations. The true believer in the product will always prefer wild. Tiger farms simply render tigers as commodities for profit, stimulates demand, and perpetuates the myth of the efficacy of tiger parts for medicinal use.

 

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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.

                                               

 

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 221 people into the land of the tiger and generated over $358,000 towards tiger conservation.  World health permitting, the next Save The Tiger trip will be March 8-March 22 2022.  

 

•A special thank you to the American Himalayan Foundation for its generous assistance over the years and to its Director David Bonderman for funding 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, 2021 we have been able to give $1,273,356 to help tiger conservation work in India and Nepal. To those of you who have contributed to this, our heartfelt THANK YOU!

 

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The Fund for The Tiger would like to thank all those listed below who have made contributions in 2020 through June of 2021.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

 


Mountain Travel Sobek/Save the Tiger trip

The American Himalayan Foundation

David Bonderman

Scott McDougal/World Charity Foundation

The McDougal Foundation

Ann Nichols

Bill & Meredith Bishop

Erica Stone/Meriama Fund

Robert & Michelle Friend Philanthropic Fund

Delanie Read

Mike & Janet Finn

Stuart & Carla Gordon Charitable Fund

April H. Salisbury

Laura Laesecke & Michael Kurinij

Isabel Allende & Nicolas Frias

Martin Cruz & Emily Smith

Lawrence E. Fahn

Albert Lyons & Margaret Brandt

Russell & Linda Bartmes

Marc Evans

Ernest & Leslie Zomalt

Kouji & Mary Nakata

Bill Prescott

Cherry Stockton

Tom & Marianne Stockton

Dean & Tracy Alper

Susan C. Gause

Howard Horner

Paul ‘L.P.’ Hansen

Joan Edmunds

Christina Taft

Rick Mariano & Katherine Feinstein

Regina Yando & John Mordes

Mary Lynn Parodi in honor of David, Denise, Daria, Denali, Emily, Brian, Avery & Drew

Susette Lyons

Wallace Mc Ouat & Claire Young

Stephen DeLapp

Sarah Lichtenstein

Carla Buchanan

Steve & Vicki Beck

Betty Calvert

Pam Toevs

Betty Block

Michelle LaCagnina

Bob Sharfman

Frank Wilson

Bruce & Janet Minkiewicz

Randy Hershkowitz

Barbara Endean

Dudley & Mari Houghton/Austin Community

Foundation 

Connie Pratt

Rob & Suzanne Mellor

Michael & Vivien Bronshvag

Missy McMinn

Margaret Hoffberger

Jim Fayollat & Dasha Jamiyan

Ruth Scott

Pat Van Buren

Lauren Quinn James

Carol Holt Bedell

Marcia & Nat Schmelzer

Kay Klumb

Dolores M. Hovey Trust

Mike & Billie Strauss

Sheila Blake

Phil & Debra White

Aimee Whitman

Rusty Gutwillig

Stephen & Britt Thal

Diana Cunningham

Neil & Anne Harper

Bob & Debby Law

Anne Hoffman

Joan Wager

Anne Hayden

Kathryn & Peter Fudge

Alfred E. Janssen

Susan L. Burrell & Don Kerson

Jim & Janice Borrow

Tom & Jan Perry

Warren Perry

James & Wenda O’Reilly

John & Jeri Flinn

Larry Habegger

Steve Van Beek

Alice Treinis

Gayan Macher

Gina Park & “Q”

Gail Billions Thompson

Rodger Young

Tom Harriman

Ron & Erica Rubenstein

John & Lela Larkin

Rod Sacconaghi

Larry & Phyjllis Despain

Albert Fisk

Bruce Encke

Diane White

Jeffrey S. Rudsten & Susan K. Kay Trust

Michael Hackett Hale

Richard & Carolyn Egan

Eve Bergeron

Steve Beckwith

Hal & Carol Sherley

Karen Gerken

Spencer & Stacey Sias Fund

Lloyd & Jane Wiborg

Tom Bentley

George Crispo

Cia & Pat Donahue

Austin Rice

Kay Bush

Jigme & Nima Raptentsetsang

Jarrett  & Mary Wyant

Duke Energy/Jarrett Wyant

Jan Leklikner

Van Hazewinkel

Louis Krack

Gerald & Shela Bordin

N.T. Ricker

Neil Shaeffer

G. David Austin

Judy Parrish

Kate McKinzie

Anne Sigmon

Deborah Nelson

Catherine Crawford

Mike& Randy Groza

Billie Richert

Dennis Porter

John Clair & Eliza Evett Miller

Julie Nestigen

Maria Conchita de Guzman

Elizabeth Muench

Tom Neuberger  & Julie Ann Taylor

Tamara Goldsmith & Randy Zucker

V. Ozanne Ogier

Dale Kennedy

Doug Murken

Pam & Dwight Jewson

Gretchen Taylor

Carolyn & Kevin Martin

Jim Sano

Ted Baglin

Laren Hockinson

Jonathan Moore

Christopher Moore

Jonathan & Katie Moore in honor of Sandra Sizer

The Mancini Company/Jay Mancini

Kevin & Dyanne Howley

Catherine Howard

Bonnie Smetts

Ameriprise Financial/The Benevity Community Impact Fund

EBay Foundation/Your Cause

Network for Good/Anonymous

Amazon Smile