Illegal trade, poaching and captive breeding are not the only threats to the future of tigers in the wild. The habitats so essential to their survival are under frequent assault from human activities, whether it be new infrastructure such as railways and roads or commercial exploitation such as mining and deforestation. Our efforts have already resulted in several successful interventions to protect habitat.
The destruction and fragmentation of tiger habitat by roads, railways, dams and mines puts the world’s last remaining tigers under further pressure. Easier access makes them vulnerable to poachers and increases conflict as they come in to contact with people and livestock, while tigers have been killed crossing roads and railway lines. Illegal and unsustainable mining is the worst offender, with vast swathes of forest felled; mining causes massive disturbance, with draining ground water and polluting water and soil. Young adult tigers need to disperse and the challenge ahead is in creating safe landscapes through which they can move move.
The difference we’ve made
We have successfully campaigned for the closure of illegal soapstone and sandstone mines inside Jamwa Ramgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in India, where soapstone was being extracted to make talcum powder for leading international cosmetic companies.
With partners in India, we have lobbied for the clean-up of diamond mine operations on the edge of Panna Tiger Reserve. We have supported NGO colleagues at Kudremukh National Park to stop iron ore mining by raising awareness among potential foreign investors of the impact on tigers and people, and we have also campaigned to prevent a mega-tourism project from destroying the fragile Sundarbans ecosystem.
The march of development will not stop but there is room to ensure it is better planned to minimise impact on the tigers’ forests, which provide water for millions of people and mitigate climate change.
The survival of wild tigers as they disperse from their mothers’ territories and move outside protected areas begins and ends with the tolerance of local communities. There are a number of examples and locations in India where that tolerance exists for a variety of reasons: as a result of ancient cultural values; because of economic gain associated with tiger tourism; micro-economy projects run by conservationists in the name of the tiger; and because of some other ecosystem benefit.
We are supporting research to identify the ingredients of success in some of these examples and prepare case studies. Are they sustainable or at risk from industrial scale developments? Are they unique or can lessons learnt be applied to create tiger-friendly landscapes elsewhere?
After a research phase, we want to be able to capture on film the testimony from people impacted positively by these case studies so we can share and disseminate best practice across tiger ranges.
How you can help
We have no funding to take this project beyond the initial desk-based phase. Please help us so we can out in the field to tell these stories of hope and create a new narrative for the future of wild tigers.
Header image © Michael Vickers