I have a suggestion for SAN parks to consider
regarding Sylvester the lion:
After I was mauled by Tiger Corbett, he
became a instant celebrity world wide. The result was that after
the attack, many more people than usual visited Tiger Canyons to
get a look and a photo of the notorious Corbett. In short Tiger
Corbett was good for business, he generated income, rands,
dollars, euros and pounds sterling.
National Geographic and Animal Planet were
interested in making a film on Corbett's life. This would mean
publicity that money can't buy.
In a study done some years ago in Tanzania's
Serengetti Park, it was estimated that a habituated male lion
was worth $50 000 dollars alive. In short a male lion is a
renewable resource. People come to photograph Sylvester and
they leave. ( Cecil alive was worth far more then $55 000
dollars paid by the Hunter because he was the biggest lion in
I have no doubt that if Sylvester was
available and accessible, tour operators would quickly launch
the Sylvester Safari and people would pay handsomely to see and
photograph the Houdini Cat.
Ironically the place where he escaped and the
methods he used would become talking points.
On a practical note, I suggest that SAN parks
construct a double trip wire in front of their main wire.
Therefore Sylvester must get past 2 trip wires to get to the
main fence. I have found this to be very effective against tiger
break outs. It's expensive, but cheaper than R800 000 spent on
I recommend SAN parks contact Neil
Maclaughlin from Maclin fences. Neil will design a fence which
is Sylvester proof.
If Sylvester is killed in a territorial
fight, then so be it! At least he died wild and free.
In the meantime SAN parks should look at the
economic advantages of keeping Sylvester and don't fall for
veiled offers from canned lion breeders.
If SAN parks are smart they can turn
Sylvester into a symbol of conservation.
SAN parks can show resilience, perseverance
and creativity in keeping him wild. To send him to a cage is the
easy way out. I say bite the bullet, turn disadvantages into
advantages and find a way to keep him free.
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