LOCATION: Satpuda forests of Madihya Pradesh and Maharashtra, India
GOAL: To protect wild tiger populations and aid their recovery; reduce conflict with local communities; rural development
ACTIONS: Research and monitoring of tigers; mitigating human-wildlife conflict; running environmental education programmes for communities living alongside tigers; lobbying against destructive development projects in tiger habitat; running alternative livelihood and rural development initiatives
With fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild, the future for this species in its natural habitat is precarious. Tiger range throughout India, Indochina, and south east Asia is now 40% smaller than it was in 1951, and today tigers occupy a mere 7% of their historical territory. And the threats are mounting.
On the Indian subcontinent, where the largest tiger population persists, only 11% of their original habitat remains in an increasingly fragmented and often degraded state. Tigers are a conservation dependent species, requiring large contiguous forests with access to prey and water, and undisturbed core areas in which to breed.
The Satpuda forests of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra offer perhaps the best hope for India's remaining 2,000 wild tigers. Constituting several tiger reserves connected by forest corridors, this is the largest viable block of tiger habitat in India. Living with Tigers, formerly known as the Satpuda Landscape Tiger Partnership (SLTP), developed by Born Free and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, 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 habitat corridors linking them.
Through conservation bursaries funded by Born Free, these dedicated NGOs and individuals are implementing a variety of conservation activities to protect tiger habitats, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, tackle wildlife crime, monitor tiger populations, raise awareness and improve the livelihoods of people living next to tigers. The partners monitor tiger populations and human-wildlife conflict, conduct anti-poaching patrols and survey tiger habitat. They also run several projects to help people develop sustainable livelihoods, for example, a bio-gas initiative that 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 womens' empowerment schemes, local employment opportunities such as training women to be tourist guides, and workshops for people to make and sell bamboo products. All of these initiatives help people develop sustainable livelihoods.
Born Free also supports a Mobile Education Unit, which visits local schools to teach children about wildlife and co-existence, and a Mobile Health Unit, which regularly visits rural villages so that local people don’t have to travel long distances to visit the hospital. Such activities encourage and enable communities to support and participate in tiger conservation