Tigers are the largest cat on Earth, but they are also one of the rarest, due to habitat loss and illegal poaching. Born Free is committed to conserving some of the largest remaining tiger populations and habitats on Earth.
Born Free is working at a landscape-level across Central India to provide a unified, focused, and co-ordinated programme for conservation initiatives to tackle the poaching crisis, safeguard tiger habitats, and find ways for communities and wildlife to live together peacefully in the remaining strongholds for wild tigers.
TIGER CONSERVATION EFFORT
SATPUDA LANDSCAPE TIGER PARTNERSHIP (SLTP)
LOCATION: Satpuda Landscape, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Central India, Asia.
GOAL: To reduce threats facing tigers in India, and to promote human-tiger coexistence.
THREATS: With very few tigers left in the wild, the future for this species in its natural habitat is precarious. Tiger ranges throughout India, Indochina and southeast Asia have decreased significantly over the last 70 years, and the threats are mounting. Habitat loss and fragmentation have been significant drivers in their decline.
Tigers require large contiguous forests with access to prey and water, and undisturbed core areas in which to breed. This means they are particularly vulnerable to habitat fragmentation from linear infrastructure developments. The Satpuda forests of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra offer perhaps the best hope for India’s remaining wild tigers. This is the largest viable block of tiger habitat in India, with several tiger reserves connected by forest corridors.
However, tigers are not just threatened by habitat loss. Human-tiger conflict occurs when tigers attack and kill livestock or pose a danger to people. This can lead to retaliatory killings of tigers and unwillingness to engage in conservation activities, putting the future of the species at risk.
Illegal hunting has also driven declines in tiger populations. This includes hunting of tigers themselves (for the illegal trade in products including skins, bones, and tiger meat) and of their prey.
ACTIONS: The Satpuda Landscape Tiger Partnership, supported by Born Free, brings together a network of Indian conservationists working in seven tiger reserves across this very important tiger range – Bori-Satpuda, Kanha, Melghat, Pench MP, Pench Maharashtra, Navegaon-Nagzira, Tadoba-Andhari – and the habitat corridors linking them.
With Born Free’s support, these dedicated non-governmental organisations carry out a diverse range of activities including:
- research and monitoring of tigers;
- mitigating human-wildlife conflict;
- running environmental education programmes for communities living alongside tigers;
- providing basic healthcare the rural communities;
- lobbying against destructive development projects in tiger habitat; and
- running alternative livelihood and rural development initiatives.
The partners run several projects to help people develop sustainable livelihoods. For example, a bio-gas initiative provides fuel to homes so people are less reliant on collecting firewood from the forest. This, in turn, helps reduce conflict with tigers and other animals. The partners also run women’s empowerment schemes, such as training women to be tourist guides, and workshops for people to make and sell bamboo products.
Born Free also supports a conservation education programme in local schools to teach children about wildlife and coexistence, and a Mobile Health Unit. This Unit regularly visits rural villages so that local people don’t have to travel long distances to visit the hospital. These provide essential services to people and encourage communities to support and participate in tiger conservation.
One of the most recent projects supported by Born Free funding and implemented by an SLTP partner is a stall-feeding project. This project supplies people with fast-growing, highly nutritious green fodder to feed livestock. This means that livestock do not need to be grazed in the forest, where they, and the people looking after them, are extremely vulnerable to attack from tigers. Reducing the need to graze livestock in the forest reduces conflict and increases tolerance for tigers, fostering an environment of coexistence between people and these iconic carnivores.