The tigers, shareholders of ALL TIGERS? When you buy one of our products, the tigers benefit directly: since its creation, ALL TIGERS is a member of the 1% FOR THE PLANET network and donates 1% of sales to the Poh Kao association, which supports the preservation of the wild tiger in Asia.
Every year on July 29th, International Tiger Day aims at raising awareness for issues related to the preservation of the wild tiger, an emblematic but threatened species. On this occasion, we checked in on the project we support in the Sariska National Reserve, in the State of Rajasthan, India, with Véronique Audibert, director of the Poh Kao association, and Aman Singh, its local partner.
Since our partnership started, what are the major advances of the project in Sariska, India?
The population of tigers of Sariska jumped to 24 individuals, versus the 14 counted 5 years ago. This is a 70% increase! This success is due to the work of our local partner, who brought all parties to the table: park authorities, local elected officials, village committees, tiger conservation experts and research institutes. These joint efforts have ensured the protection and growth of the tiger population and the maintenance of a rare ecosystem. While the effects of biodiversity loss and climate change are increasing around the world, this project demonstrates that with little funding and a strong common will, tigers can be effectively protected.
Each year, as part of the 1% FOR THE PLANET program, we donate 1% of our total sales to Poh Kao to support this project. What are its concrete achievements?
The financial means of the ALL TIGERS donation have contributed significantly to tiger conservation. First of all, the construction of watering troughs ensures the availability of water for the tigers, and thousands of wild animals and livestock, especially in summer. One must keep in mind that in the region, temperature reach 50°C! The collection of monsoon water has been improved through the rehabilitation of large reservoirs. And your donations have also contributed to the campaign to replant 50,000 trees to stem soil desertification and provide nutrients for deer and ungulates, which are preyed upon by tigers.
What is the role of local people in protecting the tigers?
The local population plays a key role in the protection of the Sariska tigers. Elected committees in each village work as sentinels to monitor access points to the national park from their villages where trails leading outside the park pass could be used by poachers. Thanks to donations from ALL TIGERS, each of the five local committees has also been equipped with a smartphone that allows them to be in constant contact with the Tiger Conservation Project team, record surveillance data, take photos, and communicate via the internet.
The villagers accompany their herds - buffaloes, cows, camels or goats - in the national park, where tigers and leopards live, without any conflict. The culture of the Sariska communities is closely linked to their biological environment. The local communities and their cattle share the space and the natural resources with all the wild animals.
In the village territories of the Sariska Tiger Reserve, for example, the wildlife has little fear of human presence and often feeds on livestock, while the communities are vegetarian, do not kill animals, and practice peaceful coexistence.
How to coexist with tigers?
The villagers understand tigers. They know never to come between the predator and its prey, to move away slowly in the presence of a tiger, to observe certain behaviors such as looking the tiger in the eyes, to be silent... The communities believe that the association of domestic and wild animals, which graze together in Sariska, is never competitive: domestic livestock and wild animals have complementary functions in maintaining the balance and productivity of the vegetation. The communities consider the wild herbivores as a buffer against predators, which tend to increase the livestock population. It is a balance: communities understand that if there were no tigers, there would be too many sambhar deer, and so one day there would be no grass or trees, there would be no forest for them.
For having strengthened community livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, our local partner association has been awarded the prestigious "INDIA BIODIVERSITY AWARD 2021" by the Indian Ministry of the Environment.
What is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tigers, their ecosystem and local populations?
Tigers can catch Covid-19: immediate preventive measures were therefore taken by the Indian Ministry of Environment to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from humans to tigers, by restricting the movement of people in national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves.
We are particularly concerned that this leads to restrictions on the movement of villagers in and around protected areas, who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. The effects of the pandemic affect all aspects of society. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming more manageable this year with the rollout of vaccines, it will continue to have direct and ripple effects, especially for local communities and their livelihoods, as they face multiple intersecting forms of inequality and injustice. Many communities reported being stranded without access to rations for themselves and feed for their livestock.
Normally, the most active tribal communities in preserving the tigers are also among the poorest, and they receive almost nothing from the massive revenues generated by tourist tiger watching managed by the park authorities.
As the existing projects continue, what are the new projects for Poh Kao and its local partners?
Agriculture is not allowed in the reserve, the villagers have livestock and live on milk and dairy products. We want to improve their livelihood, which is severely affected by COVID-19. Each village produces a fairly large amount of milk, so the creation of a women's cooperative would be the best option to provide them with a stable income, by making milk cakes, processed butter... This infrastructure will be profitable, viable and sustainable for the women of the local communities.
What is the situation for tigers, and more broadly of biodiversity, on a global scale?
One million animal species are in danger of extinction, and 68% of the total wild animal population has disappeared in two human generations. Just 100 years ago, up to 100,000 wild tigers roamed Asia. Today, only 3,900 tigers remain in the wild, occupying just 4% of their former distribution.
Poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. Every part of the tiger - from snout to tail - has been found in illegal wildlife markets. Their bones and other body parts are used in folk remedies, and their skins are sought as status symbols in some Asian cultures.
Resources for monitoring protected areas in countries where Tigers live are often limited. Even countries that rigorously enforce tiger protection laws face an uphill battle against poaching, which is now often orchestrated by transnational criminal organizations that reap large profits from wildlife crime and undermine the safety of local communities.
Are we, similarly to tigers, an endangered species?
Yes, we are an endangered species! With the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and its variants, the world has become aware that human health, animal health and environmental health are intimately linked. We are part of the web of life, not above it, nor are we superior to it. In short, with a sick planet, we are sick.
For 50 years, experts have been warning, making diagnoses and sharing recommendations, in vain... Let's recall that since 1993, (the first conference in Washington on the cross-cutting links of environmental health), all the warnings and recommendations were given but remained largely in the circles of experts. Recently, researchers have communicated to the G20 their syntheses, modelled projections and emergency actions to be implemented.
Will they now be better heard?
Changing the paradigm, rethinking our place in the living world and on this planet, comes up against powerful obstacles and resistance: the ever-increasing liberalism, the belief in infinite growth in a finite world. The challenge for the human species is immense. The protection of nature could avoid global economic losses of $2.7 trillion per year according to the World Bank. Will the World Bank itself even be heard?
Thank you Véronique, and thank you to all of you who support us.
If you wish to support Poh Kao in a very direct way, you can contact Veronique via the Poh Kao website. Individuals can make a direct donation and receive a tax receipt.
Poh Kao is also part of the Prizle site: on this website you can make a series of purchases with large partner companies daily (Gap, Cdiscount, Trainline, etc.) and choose that a commission be paid to Poh Kao
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