Thursday, May 21, 2015

#Nepal #Leopard #Rewilding At a time when a nation bleeds, some positive news...



It's been an incredibly rough  nearly four weeks for Nepal.  Earthquakes have shaken a country to be on its knees.  Personally I've felt like a caffeine overloaded nomad as I've rushed from project to project.  Today I allowed myself a smile...

As I alluded to in previous posts there is some really good news re Asa, the leopard I've been attempting to rewild in a project now lasting over fifteen months.  The data and Asa's behaviour indicate that Asa has chosen to fully separate from me meaning he is confident enough to have full independence.  He has chosen not to contact me when I have been in his area, the grid territory I set up and camera trap images such as the one here are showing he is still occupying the zone.  This is a major breakthrough, hence the smile you can see in the second image, plus Bindu's as she immediately understood the ramifications and situation as I started to explain to her.  Bindu played a critical role in Asa's medical care when he was a young cub.  Asa has been living completely free for many months now and the fact he has chosen to separate, at a time when I hoped he would, is extremely pleasing.

I will explain more soon.  I'm heading into his territory in a few hours to get more information.  R2A (see our website www.wildtiger.org) means there is all that to be contending with right now as well with more medical supplies going in plus the building of shelters to help earthquake survivors through the monsoon.  Those who have been following these blogs will know we are using Asa's success to give hope and now we can add even more value to that.  The area we are helping in is leopard habitat as well so we will be studying the overall effect on the area.

This thing still has a lot to play out.  Asa's territory being in a disturbed area plus the planned Rescue and Rewilding Centre which has obviously been delayed in progress because of the earthquake are still key factors.  I'm in a position now to start working with the next leopard(s), more on that shortly and yeah, it's a busy time but we must take the positive and keep working as hard as possible.  On that note I better keep the coffee buzz going... cheers Jack.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Regular updates at Facebook for now...

Many thanks to those who are following this blog.  At the moment due to the logistics and urgency of the situation most of my posts are at Facebook with images and short messages also at Twitter and Instagram.

Due to the time constraints and logistics involved with travel between projects I am only answering urgent messages and family right now.  When the situation with the earthquake crisis eases I'll reply to the many well wishes and help we have received, thanks for understanding this.

You can help support at WildTiger where it hits the ground quickly where it's needed.

My best to all,

Jack

Friday, May 15, 2015

#NepalEarthquake REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) - Near total destruction, a devoted colleague leaves, life goes on here in Nepal...




The first image is of a village in the area in which we are providing help.  I took the photograph from an army helicopter during a recce to provide assessment and get some emergency supplies in.  The day had started with a long, bumpy, dusty jeep ride which had frayed the nerves because of the constant threat of landslides.  We took the opportunity to not only get medical and other supplies in overland but also to ferry a few locals to their villages, I simply couldn't bear the thought of them walking along jeep tracks and unstable trails in those conditions.
I feel the same trepidation when taking WildTiger people into these areas to provide aid.  I'm constantly juggling my thinking and adjusting so that there is maximum efficiency balanced with the risk involved.  That is how it will play out over the coming months.
I'm about to leave to go and check on Asa, the Leopard of Hope, rewilded and many ways giving some stability to those of us who care about that project.  Before I go I am saying goodbye to good friend and colleague Cecile Michiardi (2nd image) who leaves to return to her bases in France and Morocco.  Cecile has been a rock especially these past three weeks.  We have been mostly working in separate areas but her quick understanding when I have needed things done urgently has been a huge asset to me, to WildTiger, to the situation.  We had been planning R2A for a while but obviously the earthquake meant we had to bring it forward... and quickly.  I can't thank Cecile enough for the way she responded to the crisis and now she will be playing equally important roles from outside the country as she organizes several important facets of our work including the fund raising photo exhibitions.  She will also be taking care of many issues that I simply cannot do from here because of failing infrastructure, time and the fact I am often in isolated areas.  You'll become more and more aware of Cecile's work as our online platform upgrades later in the year.
I have many people to thank here and outside the country, I will get to this when I can and I thank all concerned for their understanding as to why I am difficult to contact right now.  I spent time going through this last night and noticed that many contributors are people who have met us, seen what we do.  This tells me that our philosophy of keeping our framework right at ground level is what people want to see and support.  This will never change, I choose people who really get that and as Hemant says we are like farmers, we get our hands dirty.
Many people have left the country and there is a genuine fear other big quakes will hit, something which unfortunately experts are predicting.  Life goes on, it has to and I promise that WildTiger will continue to be as effective as we can.  I will be explaining soon our thinking and ethics around the word "habitat" and how conservation in a place like this has to have the right blend of proactivity to protect wildlife and people, they are not separate, we are all in this together especially at a time like this.
I thank you for your support, best regards, Jack.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#NepalEarthquake - REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) - Sense of urgency as aid lacking and monsoon veil thickens...


The image is taken from near the helicopter door.  Small children, army soldiers, villagers ran as they piled supplies that will give some relief but not enough as the rainy season takes effect.
Yeah, we got medical supplies and some shelters in to our area, yes, we managed to jeep and fly to assess, part of a long day and it's positive that aid was given...BUT do I feel the slightest bit of satisfaction? Relief?  NO, far from it...
There are many questions to be asked.  Not enough aid seems to be hitting the ground.  Food stockpiles and adequate shelters to ward off a Himalayan monsoon have to get there in the next few weeks or this thing will be even more of a bloody disaster... and that is without the ever hovering threat of epidemics, a big part of our focus, the absolute need to prevent.
I've got a hell busy next few days.  I'll post short messages at www.facebook.com/jackkinross when I can, thanks to those who followed yesterday.  I'm really wondering more and more what is going on now with regard to aid, keeping my senses open for a few answers...while trying to get real aid to where it needs to go...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#NepalEarthquake REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) - Landslides the key as 2nd quake forces further assessment...

First of all thanks for the support and messages.  Once again it's impossible to get back to everyone right now.  As I wrote before yesterday's second quake the situation nation wide was very tense.  Now that feeling is even stronger.  It is a time when concentration and good decision making with clear thought are absolutely vital.
Landslides, such an issue here in "normal" times anyway, are now very much key to all decisions regarding providing relief for earthquake affected communities in remote areas.  It is imperative that understanding these conditions as best as possible is the main criteria applied to how to get aid to these areas.  Know the mountain, know the plan.  Nearly all foreign troops are leaving the country now so the Nepalese army can function with the air and jeep track space they need.  Strength and knowledge on foot are of course paramount as well.
I am applying that thinking to our own aid efforts.  It is very much a matter of deploying the right people into the right places, there is no room for inexperience and the non-essential.  Right now this means getting the right information so as to assess.  It also means action with the right amount of care.  Less than a metre away from me I have boxes of medical supplies which will be added to today.  I will go in with a jeep driver to get these supplies to where they need to go and that gives me the chance to further assess.  I'm hopeful this can be done within the next forty eight to seventy two hours.
The long term psychological impacts, particularly for children, are very much on my mind as planning takes place for the months ahead.  R2A is a long term process which takes many forms. Right now it's one step at a time.  I'll blog after this next step.  Once again thank you for your support, it hits the ground where it's needed.  Best regards, Jack.

Friday, May 8, 2015

#NepalEarthquake REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) - Nepal on a landslide as it faces it's toughest monsoon ever...


First of all thanks to those who looked at the 15 images I posted last night at www.facebook.com/jackkinross There'll be plenty more in the months to come.

During the two tourist seasons people often say to me I lead an adventurous life.  What many don't realize is that outside those two short windows there are many months (monsoon and winter) where conditions are very harsh, often dangerous.  This year, as monsoon hits, I have to admit that my normal acceptance of the situation has been replaced with a type of trepidation.  Landslides take many lives here every year and now, after an earthquake of such magnitude, there are very real concerns.

In about 48 hours I take another team by jeep into the epicentre.  The track is dodgy at the best of times and right now it is raining.  I will keep assessing the situation.  I will give the safety of the team top priority but there is always risk.  We are placing a doctor in a remote area as well as distributing more medical supplies and running needs assessment for epidemic prevention.  There will be a lot of travel by foot in the coming week.

In a couple of hours I'm back in Asa's area to deliver the young leopard a major food drop so I know the young leopard will be ok for a week or so.  Asa is doing really well, he is an inspiration, my brother emailed "that cat is a legend".  The circumstance now means that encounters with Asa mean a jeep ride of up to three hours depending on conditions followed by a trek in of four to seven hours... and then I have to get out again.  The trip back to the earthquake zone could take another eight hours at least.  I will use Pokhara as an intermediate base to have equipment and supplies.  The image of Asa is from just three days ago...

So support is vital.  If you can spread the word and point people to www.wildtiger.org I thank you.  Cecile Michiardi returns to her base in Morocco soon where she will drive the Photo Exhibitions which are being held worldwide, I think we are up to about ten sites so far.  Contact Cecile through the WildTiger site if you'd like to be involved.  The website has been altered to reflect what is going on here with a full image based change later in the year.

Bidhya Sharma will be my main eyes, ears and often vocals in the coming months while I am at ground level.  Once again you can contact Bidhya through the site.  WildTiger recognizes the support of several organizations especially connected to the Ghandruk VDC and ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) during this time.  The relevant personnel will be named in due course but as I mentioned in my Facebook post last night this is no time for any back slapping.

This is a deadly serious situation.  This monsoon is going to test us like never before.  There will be more tragedy.  We just have to our best to minimize them.

Thank you for your support at www.wildtiger.org where it goes direct to ground level to help wildlife, habitat, people...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#NepalEarthquake REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) - A tragedy but still the children sing in the real Nepal...


My tent in the foreground is luxury compared to the basic shelter next to it, several light and medium grade tarpaulins stretched along a branch that used to belong to the tree you can see.  Five families now live in this shelter.  They are in for a tough monsoon.

The people in the background are unloading more tarpaulins and blankets for this tent city.  It will no longer be a football field.  The workers have made a hard trip of many hours to get here, there are many ways to die in Nepal and the jeep tracks into these villages are particularly dangerous.  To me these men are unsung heroes.  Today there were nationwide meetings which finally mean the big NGOs will fully mobilize.  The men in the background have already been working non stop for nine days.

I awake to children singing, there are many offspring in the five families.  They are still singing as they peer into the tent of the white man with the ever whitening beard.  Their smiles and laughter tell me a story I already know, the story of the real Nepal, far from the corruption, egos and mismanagement which plague this country.  The singing of these children is not heard by tourists, they don't come to these places.  In fact the map makers are often uncertain what to call these places.

I look at the children and I look at their home.  I look at their country.  The young nurse Pratima says to me "my mother land is hurting and I don't know what to do"... all I can reply is "listen to the children sing"...

The rebuild of a nation has begun.  There is still fear.  Was that the big quake?  Is there perhaps a bigger one to come?  Coming from New Zealand, a shaky place, all I know is that we don't know. Regardless of the future the now has a big death toll.  Yet here in the real Nepal the children still sing.

My heart belongs in these remote areas even if often I have to take it elsewhere.  In a couple of days I'll write about the leopard, he is doing well and like the children he keeps it simple.

Surely that is a lesson for us all...

Monday, May 4, 2015

#NepalEarthquake REMOTE AREA AID (R2A) The cost for years to come...


It's impossible to quantify the impact of a major earthquake.  The long term affect is a toll on a nation.  Nepal struggles anyway, it really does.  To see what has happened in these remote villages was sobering.  Yes, we are able to give help but there is no satisfaction in that, no feeling of job well done.  There is only a type of numbness which let's you focus on the obvious, what needs to be done next...

In saying that I thank everyone for their support.  You are making a difference.  As I write this there is a slight sense that at least because the ground is not shaking as much and air plus ground teams are mobilizing with more coordination after what was a very unprepared start, that at least some progress is being made.

There is real concern of course about what happens next.  Countless people are living under a piece of plastic.  Hygene issues are a massive concern.  This is how WildTiger will continue to help and it will be an ongoing process beset by the difficulty of monsoon rains.

I head to the jungle shortly to check on Asa, the young leopard I have been rewilding now in a project lasting fifteen months so far.  I hope this day gives me some perspective because it is another day where there will be cost, just as there will be for years to come...

You can help at www.wildtiger.org