By Subhro Niyogi
KOLKATA: Land Rover-the iconic brand of sports utility vehicles that operate in forests across the world including the vast African savanna-will support a collaborative tiger conservation project in central India. The project works with the government and communities across the Satpuda landscape to protect the Bengal tiger and its habitat throughout Central India.
Of the estimated 2,200 Bengal tigers in India, at least 350 are in the Satpuda Hills. With a network of seven tiger reserves connected by forest corridors, Satpuda forests of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra comprise the largest block of tiger habitat in India and offer the best hope for saving the Bengal tiger in the wild.
By supporting the Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme (SLTP), Land Rover continues its global partnership with the Born Free Foundation, one of the key partners of the SLTP which established the Programme with the University of Oxford's WildCRU 10 years ago.
The Born Free Foundation, in partnership with Oxford University's WildCRU, is restructuring existing projects into a network of partners operating across the landscape, funding their specific needs and developing better communication between them. This ensures limited resources are maximized and targeted to protect wildlife and meet the most urgent needs of the people that live close to tigers.
This collaborative approach is implemented by a team of Indian conservationists who are responsible for carrying out SLTP's various activities. These include the promotion of the needs of Bengal tigers by focusing on healthcare.
In the last year the SLTP has educated over 16,000 children in environmental issues and delivered health services to over 15,000 people living in rural villages. They have also brought legal opposition to environmentally damaging projects that has succeeded in influencing - and in some cases, stopping - their implementation. This supports their efforts to promote environmentally sustainable livelihoods.
Mark Cameron, global brand experience director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "This project allows us to cement our strong relationship with Born Free Foundation to help protect Bengal tigers and their surrounding communities. The collaboration with the SLTP partners and local communities is crucial to ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the tigers, and the people who live close by,"" he said, pointing out that the project's Land Rover vehicles with their all-terrain capability had played a vital role in supporting this programme, enabling the team to reach areas which would otherwise be inaccessible and safely deliver personnel and equipment into, and out of, the most challenging situations.