The tragic death of Vivienne McKenzie by
a tiger at Laohu Valley is regrettable and I send my sincere
condolences to Vivienne’s friends, family and
colleagues. Vivienne gave years of her life to tiger
Vivienne’s accident and my accident with
Corbett occurred with tigers in bomas. I don’t believe this
is a co-incidence. Some of the most magical times of my life
have been spent in the company of tigers that have come from
Ron and Julie came from a zoo in Canada,
Sundarban, Shine and Zaria were abandoned at birth and hand
raised. Khumba and Aurora were purchased as cubs from an
animal dealer. Thankfully all of these ended up as wild and
Once you enclose the tiger and prevent it
from a free and natural existence, the partnership with that
Corbett was born wild and grew up wild.
In 2011 during the devastating floods, Corbett’s fence was
washed away. Seatao bigger and stronger than Corbett,
entered the area where Corbett was wild and nearly killed
him in a fight. To save his life and protect him, I put
Corbett in a boma. In that act I took away his freedom. I
removed his potential to be a wild tiger.
My intensions were good, the results were
bad. From the moment of incarceration, Corbett hated me. I
took away his territory, his ability to hunt, his challenge
to defend against rival male tigers. I reduced him to a
resentful, dangerous tiger. When the time came to take
revenge, he did exactly that.
At the recent CITES convention I wonder
how many of our government officials thought for one minute
about the 8,000 lions incarcerated for the canned lion and
body parts industry. 8,000 Lions with no criminal record are
incarcerated, waiting for the day when a rifle or high
powered crossbow will end their lives.
The attitude is summed up by the words of
our Minister of Environment when referring to Black Rhino
sold to a zoo in Vietnam and I quote: “These are young
animals and will adapt well to zoo conditions”. I suggest
that no wild animal adapts well to zoo conditions.
I strongly urge the South African
Government to convene their own CITES Convention entitled.
“The incarnation of wild animals in South Africa and the
Tread Lightly On The Earth
CITES CoP17. Thank you for many of your
insightful letters to my last newsletter.
While I agree with everything that
you say, some thoughts towards the end are misguided…
comparing RSA to Botswana… regarding rhinos. How many
rhinos are there in Botswana? How many in South Africa?
If you were a poacher, would you try to find the few
rhinos in a desert, or 12 000 in Kruger? It is obvious
that our biggest problem there is that we have so many
in one place, a magnet for poachers.
I also feel uncomfortable that we as
humans are happy to have taken cats, dogs, chickens,
turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, cows and
many more from their wild, natural habitat, and keep
them in awful conditions in feedlots and abattoirs, and
that for our own appetites and whims… Do we have the
right to condemn farmers for farming tigers and lions
when we do the same with our own livestock? That is
I do NOT support canned lion hunting
etc. but then all of us should become vegetarians and
stop farming other animals if we are really serious
about the ethics of ALL ANIMALS.
Friedrich von Horsten
We humans are a cancer on our own planet.
The whole issue of Elephant, Lion and Tiger survival comes
down to corruption at the highest governmental level. We
will not learn now or ever, the game is lost and that is a
huge blight on us all.
You hit hard and rightly so - too
much posturing and pandering to those who think they
know what’s best for our animals.
Who are the EU to dictate the
future and destiny of our animals? A bunch of
pampered and podgy well cosseted individuals who
would tour the bush in their designer civvies …..
spare me ….
Time to visit Tiger Canyon again
All the very best,
I thought you may be interested in some
news from CITES where I have just spent 2 very challenging
weeks. Please take note of Eugene Lapointe’s closing
address to the CITES conference. This spells out the very
difficult times our African Wildlife will have in the
foreseeable future. I fervently believe that unless we
practice sustainable utilisation we will lose our natural
heritage in Africa.
I view you as a true African accentuated
by the fact that you grew up in our natural environment and
I am therefore disappointed to see that the anti-sustainable
utilisation crowd seems to be converting you to be one of
them. Bear in mind that I say this knowing that if the
Animal Rightists have their way my 1,409 rhino will all be
dead in 10 to 12 years time.
John Varty response to John Hume letter:
Thank you for your email dated. You are
heavily invested in rhino, at Tiger Canyons I am invested in
Tigers (At Londolozi I have a full time army protecting my
rhino. I have not lost a rhino for 3 years.)
In your project (which I admire greatly)
you can remove horn on a sustainable basis. With tigers, to
access the body parts, the tiger is killed. This is the
While South Africa still has 22,000 wild
rhinos, Asia only has about 3,000 wild tigers. (Diminishing
at the rate of one per day.)
I was brought up on the understanding
that wild life would survive under full utilization. You can
catch it, hunt it, photograph it and eat it, was the mantra
I was taught.
In a perfect world without corruption
this could work. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect
Kruger National Park, the stronghold of
the white rhino has lost more than 4,000 rhinos is the last
5 years. High ranking officials in including Section Rangers
have been caught re handed poaching rhino in Kruger.
Veterinary staff and police at Skukuza have been arrested.
Well known vets have been caught supplying immobilizing
drugs to rhino poachers. More than a dozen professional
hunters have been charged with illegal rhino horn dealing.
None have been prosecuted. Only a Vietnamese national has
received a jail sentence. You are the only legal operation
in a sea of corruption.
On another note, I was bitterly
disappointed when you gave up your investment in the Free
State next to Tiger Canyons. All this land has returned to
sheep and the one rhino left, has been shot. We should have
worked together on this for mutual benefit and the benefit
of the rhino.
John if I come to you with 40,000
hectares of land, game fenced, would you be prepared to let
me warehouse 50 rhino for you. The rhino belong to you. I am
responsible for their protection. Should I lose a rhino to
poaching, I pay you the market value of the rhino.
Let me know if this is of interest to you
and keep up your outstanding work.
Tread Lightly On The Earth