WHEN cat lover Corinne Taylor-Smith saw a young tiger in the wild and knew his life was in grave danger it changed her life forever.
The 52-year-old was on a trip to Bandhavgarh in India in 2007 and was so mesmerised by a cub called Bamera she decided to set up her own charity to preserve wild tigers like him.
By 2010 Corinne and her husband David, an accountant, had set up Tigers4Ever, a charity to give wild tigers a future, and now works with the villagers living with tigers to make that happen.
Corinne said: “Bamera was in Bandhavgarh which at the time had the highest number of tigers in the whole of India. I knew they could be extinct in 10 years and wanted to do something to prevent it.”
Corinne discovered 95% of the tigers die in the buffer zones surrounding protected forests where they live.
Hungry tigers wander into the villages in the buffer in pursuit of prey, often taking livestock.
Poisonings were common due to slow or no compensation from the government for the loss of animals.
Others would be killed by poachers in snare traps and die.
From 5,000 miles away in her home in Warrington, Cheshire, Corinne helped put poaching patrols in the buffer zones to protect tigers.
She worked with the forest department to improve compensation for the villagers for lost livestock, and is creating manmade waterholes in the forest with solar powered pumps.
Corinne said: “We wanted to do something practical to help so we work with the villagers meaning supporting the tiger’s future is completely interdependent.
“They help build the waterholes; local welders make bikes for the patrollers, their uniforms, mosquito nets, first aid kits, and food is made by locals.
“It means everyone has a vested interest in protecting the tigers and there’s been a 94% decrease in tiger deaths in two years.
“Some of the money raised goes towards education projects providing education packs, pop up schools and scholarships for the children too.”
Corinne who lives with her account husband and her two cats Wispa and Ollie, says people are often baffled by her dedication to the tigers but once they understand the dangers they face, they want to support her.
She said: “Raising awareness is important and I think when people see the practical things we’re doing they are keen to help.
“They don’t want their children to grow up and not have the chance to see tigers and through innovation and education, we’re doing all we can to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
Corinne needs £8,640 a year to fund her patrol scheme and is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to help double monsoon patrols.
If you’d like to help, visit https://www.wildcrowd.org/campaigns/detail/49/stop-tiger-poaching-in-bandhavgarh
A version of this story appeared on Mirror Online which you can read here.
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