TOFTigers are delighted to have been able to help fund much needed food aid to 500 Baiga families bordering the famous Kanha Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India, last month. An urgent plea from Belinda Wright OBE, who heads the wonderful Wildlife Protection Society of India, has work with these tribal communities for over 50 years. She set Annemiek Van Gijn, owner of All For Nature Travel in the Netherlands to work. TOFTigers match funded Annemiek’s efforts, and then generous support from US based Wilderness Travel, helped us to raise the nearly INR 5laks (£5000) to aid this community in a few days. They had suffering lockdown without the usual work in the parks and in construction, flooding during the monsoon, and loss of income from the collapse of tourism since the end of March. They were now desperately short of cash and food.

In an incredibly short space of time, WPSI Field officer, Kamlesh and his team bought all the necessary supplies in nearby Mandla, that included 10 kgs of rice, 2 kgs of Dal, 1 litre of Vegetable oil, salt, tea and sugar and packaged it all into bagged parcels for distribution, before driving it to Kipling Camp, where it was stored before being distributed according to greatest need around the park.

As Belinda herself tells us:

We are immensely grateful for the support of All for Nature, Wilderness Travel and TOFTigers. You steped forward to fund 500 food packages, which have been distributed to Baiga tribal families and other people in extreme need of assistance that live in small villages and hamlets around Kanha Tiger Reserve. Each package consists of food supplies that will last a family of four to five people for one month. For WPSI, this is about building a local constituency for India’s wildlife by helping people who live on the fringes of protected areas, particularly in their hour of need. When the food was distributed, we highlighted the Covid issues and our obviously concerned about the potential increase in wildlife poaching at this time.

From the beginning of October, the Kanha park has once again been opened, with strict Covid protocols, but it will be a while before normality returns,  particularly International tourism’s arrival – so we will keep an eye out for any further urgent needs to help communities bordering many of India’s most beautiful wildernesses in the coming months.

Date 12/10/2020