One of the questions I get asked is "What is an
An ambassador cat is a wild cat who is prepared
to form a partnership with human beings in the realization that the
relationship somehow ensures their future.
It is 1985 and the Mother Leopard has two tiny
cubs hidden in a rocky outcrop at Londolozi Game Reserve.
Guests on three vehicles peer down into the
donga, hoping for a sight of the cubs. The Mother Leopard is
unperturbed as she sits quietly outside the den. She is aware that
she is the centre of attraction, as still and video cameras zoom in
on her, taking pictures. Suddenly she rises and with a soft chuffing
sound she calls the two cubs from the den. Cautiously they peer out
and then slowly they move onto the floor of the river bed in full
view of the guests.
For 20 minutes, guests are held spellbound.
Hundreds of pictures are taken and many feet of film capture the
scene. Then abruptly Mother Leopard gets up, chuffs the cubs and she
and the cubs disappear into the thick bush. The photo shoot is over.
High on a hill at Tiger Canyons, Tigress Ussuri
has three cubs hidden in a rocky den. We can hear the cubs, but we
see nothing. 600, 400 and 300mm lenses on Canon and Nikon cameras
lie silent as two Russian and four Spanish guests wait patiently for
something to happen.
Suddenly Ussuri appears, carrying one cub in her
mouth. Not only is she carrying the cub, but she is bringing it
closer. Ussuri climbs onto a large rock 50 metres from the guests
and deposits the cub in a crevice. She returns for the other two
cubs and calmly begins to suckle the cubs in full view of the
excited guests. So excited are the guests, that I have a full time
job convincing them to talk in whispers. I try to tell them to have
respect for Ussuri as this is a special moment. My attempts are
futile as the guests shout and cheer with excitement.
Why would Ussuri leave the seclusion and safety
of her den to bring her cubs close to a noisy bunch of human beings
who point long dark lenses at her and her cubs, I wonder?
The only conclusion I can come up with is Ussuri
instinctively realizes that the future of her and her cubs is linked
to human beings in a symbiotic relationship. By bringing her cubs
closer, she is keeping her side of the bargain.
Shashe, a wild female cheetah at Tiger Canyons
has caught a blesbuck. She and her 5 nine week old cubs are feeding
off the kill. Myself and 3 American guests over a period of half an
hour crawl up to the kill until we are within touching distance of
Shashe and the cubs. Shashe shows not one hint of aggression towards
us. Apparently she is confident that we wont hurt her cubs and we
wont steal her kill. For two hours the guests and I move around
amongst the cubs taking photos. For some, it is a life changing
The future for large cats is bleak as the forests
in Asia disappear under the weight of billions of human beings.
Lion, leopard and cheetah struggle to survive in
the large parks in Africa as they are invaded by poachers intent on
killing the high priced animals like rhino and elephant. Big cats
too, are a target for their skins and body parts.
Does the future for large cats lie in forming
relationships with sympathetic human beings? Are the "Ambassador
Cats" merely front runners? Do they realize instinctively that their
only chance of survival for their species is to form partnerships
with the very species that is causing their demise?
I have a strong feeling that this is the case. If
I am right, then the future for the tiger, the lion, the leopard,
the cheetah, the jaguar and the panther is to survive in smaller
areas where they can form partnerships with like minded human
Tread Lightly on the Earth
Expanding Tiger Canyons
A property has appeared for sale in close
proximity to Tiger Canyons. The property has excellent habitat for
Tigers. The acquisition of this property would allow us to support
In addition it has many buildings which could be
converted into a beautiful lodge which would create many jobs for
the Philippolis community.
I have tried for 5 years to purchase this
property without success, now the window of opportunity is starting
If anyone can help me purchase this property
would they please contact me on +27 836 511 600.
The Second Edition of the book "Nine Lives" has
The story is the same but some new pictures have
been added and the cover has been changed. A leather bound edition
of the book is being printed.
The Book "All the Girls" is presently being
assembled. The book tells the story of all the lionesses, tigresses,
female leopards and cheetah who have enriched my life over many
Mother Leopard, Manana, Shingalana, Tigress
Julie, Tigress Tibo and Mother Cheetah Shashe all feature
If you are a journalist, photographer, mother,
filmmaker, scientist, conservationist or just concerned for the
future of our planet, you can get a page in the book "All the
Girls". Please email me one of your favourite pictures of yourself,
your favourite quote and your favourite perfume (no animal tested
perfumes please). Also what you would like to say in the book.
This is a fun book but it has a serious current
of concern for the future of our planet running through it.