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Newsletter 156
26/01/18

Instinct versus Learnt

I have wondered for many years what is instinct and what is learnt in the Tiger world. 

In August 2015, the male Tiger, Mahindra left his territory and found the male tiger Sariska sleeping. He killed him on the ground with a bite behind the ear. 

At the same time Sariska was the father of a litter of cubs which included the male cub Bird. (Bird is named because of a pattern of a flying eagle on his forehead). 

Bird’s mother, Tibo, was now left with no protection for her cubs (The litter was Bird, Shamilee and Oksana). 

I fully expected Mahindra to kill Tibo’s cubs which is the norm for male tigers who are not the father. However, Mahindra took over the father role of Tibo’s cubs and protected them. (The reason is that Mahindra is Tibo’s brother and therefore he is genetically invested in her cubs). 

In short Mahindra spared Bird's life when he took over the father role. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why Bird four years later would turn on Mahindra, his foster father and assist Sunderban, the territorial male, to kill Mahindra. 

In the dark the two male tigers, Mahindra and Sunderban, engaged in a brutal fight. It appeared to me that the two male tigers were evenly matched. The balance of power shifted when Bird entered the fight. (Bird is 225 kilograms in weight and bigger than both Sunderban and Mahindra. However, Bird is only 4 years old and not as experienced at fighting). I would have thought Bird would have sided with Mahindra, but he supports Sunderban instead. 

As Sunderban attacks from the front, Bird goes to the rear and bites Mahindra through the spine, effectively crippling him. Now Sunderban is able to overpower Mahindra and throttle him to death. 

The questions I ask are, how at the age of 4 years old, does Bird know that a spinal bite will render Mahindra helpless? Does Bird instinctively know that Mahindra killed his father Sariska and he is taking revenge? Why does Bird not side with the male tiger that effectively saved his life when Bird was a cub? 

The answer I believe lies in none of the above. Bird has formed a coalition with Sunderban. (Bird became bigger than Sunderban before he dispersed and Sunderban was unable to expel him from the territory.) 

When Sunderban could not expel Bird from the territory, he did the expedient thing, he formed a coalition with him. Sunderban suffers from cryptorchidism (This is a condition where the testicles sit inside and not outside the male’s body). 

Sunderban mates with females, but his stamina is not at the level of other Male Tigers (The cryptorchidism has left Sunderban with low levels of testosterone.) 

In recent matings, as Sunderban tires, Bird has been able to take over the mating and inject his genes into the system. 

If Mahindra had won the fight, Mahindra would have monopolized the mating and there would be no opportunity for Bird to mate. Therefore, it is in Bird’s interest to kill Mahindra, not Sunderban. 

I would like to thank all of you who stayed in the Tigress Julie Lodge in 2017 and invite everyone to visit us in 2018.  

2018 Promises to be a bumper year photographically. 

I urge you all in 2018 to try to cut down on your use of plastic and also explore ways of moving our motor cars away from fossil fuels. 

Wishing you a Healthy New Year. 

Tread Lightly on the Earth
JV


Tibo produces white cubs

Hello Friends 

Dispersal is always the most dangerous time for tiger’s cubs. (Tiger cubs disperse between 20 & 30 months) In the case of Bird, his considerable size meant he was larger than the dominant male Sunderban. (Bird weighed 225 kilograms at age 30 months) 

After all three of her cubs had dispersed, Tibo (the white tigress) came into estrus and began mating with Sunderban. 

After the first day of mating, Bird joined his mother Tibo and Sunderban and watched the mating from a distance. On the third day it became obvious that Sunderban was tiring. Bird now joined the mating and on one occasion I filmed Bird and Sunderban biting Tibo’s neck simultaneously. 

I was not that concerned, because Tibo was extremely aggressive towards Bird, frequently attacking him viciously. 

Towards the end of the third day, Sunderban was exhausted. (Sunderban suffers from cryptorchidism and has low levels of testosterone and his stamina is low.) 

As Sunderban faded, Bird become more and more aggressive towards Tibo, eventually overpowering her and mating with her. Although Bird only mated with Tibo a few times, Tibo was already ovulating from the multi copulation with Sunderban. 

When a white tiger (a white tiger has 2 white genes) and a carrier mate (a carrier has 1 white and I normal gene) then 50% of the cubs will be white.

On the 12th of December 2017, Tibo gave birth to 2 white cubs and one normal coloured cub. 

The cubs are presently in a beautiful den site in close proximity to Seatao’s dam. 

The photographic opportunities are outstanding as all three cubs are confident and becoming habituated.

None of these cubs will be allowed to breed. The two males will be vasectomised, and the female will be sterilized.

 

Tread Lightly on the Earth
JV


Rodney Drew

Rodney Drew is a 57 year old graduate professional engineer and project manager with an MBL from Unisa who spent 30 years at a private Johannesburg mine design and engineering company, culminating as an executive director on the main board of the company which had by then globalised by acquiring a number of other international engineering companies. 

Rodney and his wife Lorna have 3 daughters and have always spent holidays traveling extensively off the beaten track through Southern Africa. He has traveled to India many times on business, always keeping up to date on the plight of the wild tiger while there. 

Rodney and JV met at Tiger Canyon in 2009 when Shine, Sunderban and Zaria were being hand raised. He and his family returned to TC 10 more times over the following year to experience the thrill of the tigers. In 2013 Rodney bought the farm next door to JV to expand the land size and gain access to the Van der Kloof Dam. In 2014 the Drew’s enabled the introduction of cheetah to TC. Then in 2016 Rodney packed up his corporate job and moved to the Free State with his eye on becoming a partner in the TC vision, financing and project managing the completion of the lodge on the canyon.  

Over the last year Rodney and JV concluded discussions to join forces to professionalise and expand TC; Rodney finally getting closer to his dream of owning and running a wild life game farm. On 13 Dec 2017 the two men signed a partnering agreement which brought together their land, their respective expertise, the tigers, their love of the big cats and their vision to create a respected private tiger reserve in Africa on previously unproductive farming land. 

Thus a new era for TC begins with JV handing over the management reigns to Rodney. In the near future Rodney hopes to fence off new tiger areas, market TC extensively to improve occupancy levels, upskill the present staff, bring in other partners to increase the TC footprint and build more bedrooms so that the viability and credibility of the project is enhanced.


Celebrating Tigers

I have great pleasure in announcing that the book "Celebrating Tigers" is out.

Alex Kirichko is the photographer for all world class pictures.

This is a book that every photographer, conservationist and wildlife enthusiast should have in their collection.

Tread lightly on the earth
JV 


Sapiens

For anyone interested in the future of planet earth and the human species, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari is a must read.

Tread lightly on the earth
JV

 

Tread lightly on the Earth

info@jvbigcats.co.za
Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved


Newsletters


Newsletters 162
23/07/18
Raising 200

Newsletters 161
22/05/18
Reach for 200

Newsletters 160
06/05/18
The Power of the Photograph

Newsletter 159
14/04/18
Predator Aggression

Newsletters 158
19/02/18
Open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa

Newsletter 157
14/02/18
SCI bans canned lion hunting

Newsletters 156
26/01/18
Tibo produces white cubs

Newsletters 155
13/11/17
The Indian Connection

Newsletters 154
28/10/17
Desertification

Newsletter 153
20/10/17
Supermarket Shopper vs. Hunter Gatherer

Newsletter 152
14/10/17
JV's response to Elayna Kinley letter

Newsletters 151
29/09/17
Running on empty

Newsletter 150
14/09/17
The Survivor

Newsletters 149
05/09/17
In pursuit of Alan Root

Newsletters 148
09/08/17
Open letter re schools plus Panna cubs

Newsletters 147
17/07/17
It's Finished

Newsletters 146
31/05/17
Hunters

Newsletter 145
20/05/17
King Corbett

Newsletter 144
08/05/17
Hunting versus Non Hunting

Newsletter 143
14/03/17
If it Pays, it Stays

Newsletters 142
14/02/17
Best Photographs at
Tiger Canyons

Newsletters 141
16/01/17
Lady Hunters

Newsletter 140
10/12/16
Londolozi and Love

Newsletter 139
23/11/16
Life is Not Fair

Newsletter 138
17/11/16
The Trump Card

Newsletter 137
22/10/16
Most Admired People on the Planet

Newsletters 136
13/10/16
Captive vs Wild

Newsletter 135
08/10/16
To trade  or not To Trade

Newsletter 134
08/08/16
A Defining Moment

Newsletter 133
08/07/16
I Have Lost A Friend

Newsletter 132
13/05/16
The World is Changing

Newsletter 131
08/04/16
Icon Cats

Newsletter 130
31/03/16
Sylvester the Lion

Newsletter 129
22/03/16
An Open Letter to Head United Nations

Newsletter 128
15/03/16
An Open Letter to Carte Blanche

Newsletter 127
28/11/15
Satellite Tracking

Newsletter 126
12/11/15
Lightning strikes 3 times

Newsletter 125
28/10/15
The Break Out

Newsletter 124
05/10/15
Bad Tigers

Newsletter 123
01/10/15
Tiger Boy's Journey

Newsletter 122
13/09/15
Give it a Name

Newsletter 121
10/09/15
Driven Hunts

Newsletter 120
01/09/15
Creative Conservation

Newsletter 119
12/08/15
Sariska from birth till death

Newsletter 118
11/08/15
Real Hunters

Newsletter 117
07/08/15
An Open Letter to the President: Operation Wild Lion

Newsletter 116
03/08/15
An Open Letter to Theo Bronkhorst

Newsletter 115
28/07/15
Cruel Nations

Newsletter 114
08/07/15
Subspecies or no subspecies

Newsletter 113
11/06/15
Tigers Moving Forward

Newsletter 112
13/04/15
Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Newsletter 111
26/03/15
Don't Shoot the Messenger

Newsletter 110
22/03/15
The Hunters

Newsletter 109
09/03/15
Gaia or God?

Newsletter 108
26/02/15
The Healing Power of Cats

Newsletter 107
18/02/15
Goddess Gaia

Newsletter 106
03/02/15
Ambassador Cats

Newsletter 105
24/01/15
Blondes have more fun

Invitation
09/01/15
Gaining ground for tigers

Newsletter 103
14/12/14
Tibo's Dilemma

Newsletter 102
05/12/14
Wilderness Man

Newsletter 101
25/11/14
Sariska fathers cubs with white Tigress Tibo

Newsletter 100
20/11/14
Cheetah Survival

Newsletter 99
30/09/14
Extract from JV's speech on Corbett's Freedom Day

Newsletter 98
15/08/14
The Power of the Picture

Newsletter 97
18/07/14
Tiger Corbett's Release

Newsletter 96
11/07/14
Corbett's Journey

Newsletter 95
18/06/14
Bush School: Where are they now?

Newsletter 94
12/05/14
Open letter to Jani Allen: Oscar Pistorius

Newsletter 93
07/05/14
John Varty interview with Sizie Modise

Newsletter 92
20/04/14
Marion's Big Cat Safari

Newsletter 91
24/02/14
Full energy flow

Newsletter 90
10/02/14
Investing in wild tigers

Newsletter 89
05/02/14
Where are the Champions?

Newsletter 88
27/01/14
Managing the Genes

Newsletter 87
16/01/14
Capture the Moment

Newsletter 86
07/12/13
The Princess Diana of Tigers - Julie:
 Sept 1999 - 5 Des 2013

Newsletter 85
26/11/13
The Communicators

Newsletter 84
26/11/13
A Letter to All Conservationists in SA 
Sparked by the whole Melissa Bachman Debacle
by Maxine Gaines

Newsletter 83
16/11/13
Tell me what happened

Newsletter 82
04/11/13
Profit is the Name of Your Game

Newsletter 81
30/10/13

Big Cat Cub Safari


Newsletter 80
18/10/13
In the Jaws of the Tiger

Newsletter 79
11/10/13
Open letter to Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 78
06/10/13
Open letter to Min of Defense, South Africa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 77
30/09/13
Digital Photography

Newsletter 76
06/09/13
Zoochosis

Newsletter 75
20/07/13
Rhino Horn Trade - Response

Newsletter 74
09/07/13
Raw Power

Newsletter 73
02/07/13
The Evolution of the Tracker

Newsletter 72
02/07/13
An Open Letter to the Honourable Edna Molewa, Minister of Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs

Newsletter 71
06/06/13
Using flash or spotlight on cats at night

Newsletter 70
14/05/13
Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the best eyesight of them all?

Newsletter 69
12/04/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all?

Newsletter 68
25/03/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best fighter of them all?

Newsletters 67
07/03/13
Wild Cheetah return to the Free State after 100 years

Newsletter 66
28/02/13
Seeking the genes

Newsletters 65
06/02/13
Corbett's Journey

Newsletters 64
22/01/13
In Search of a Mate

Newsletters 63
11/01/13
Rumble in the Jungle

Newsletters 62
30/10/12
Voronin Big Cat Safari Breaks All Records

Newsletters 61
09/12/12
A Journey to Nowhere

Newsletter 60
03/10/12
The John Hume Approach

Newsletter 59
28/09/12
Response to Rhino Horn Auction

Newsletters 58
24/09/12
A Letter to John Hume, SA biggest Rhino Breeder

Newsletters 57
05/09/12
Newsletters 56
01/08/12
Indian Government -
the wrong decision

Newsletter 55
11/07/12
What price must beauty pay?

Newsletter 54
21/04/12
Corbett's Freedom

Newsletter 53
15/04/12
Lethal injection or Freedom

Newsletters 52
04/04/12
The anatomy of an aggressive tiger

Newsletters 51
14/02/12
Majestic, breathtaking pictures

Newsletters 50
04/11/11
Tigress Calendar

Newsletters 49
19/11/11

Let your pictures do the talking

Newsletters 48
26/09/11

Rhino Wars

Newsletters 47
06/09/11
A Letter to the President

Newsletters 46
08/08/11
The Body Parts Scam

Newsletters 45
11/07/11
Tiger Subspecies

Newsletters 43
01/05/11
Your future and the Tiger

Newsletter 42
08/05/11
Talk to Me

Newsletter 41
26/01/11
Gaian Reminder

Newsletter 40
18/11/10
Ron's Journey

Newsletter 39
20/10/10
"Descreprimate"

Newsletter 38
06/09/10
Beauty comes at a price

Newsletter 37
18/08/10

The Light Has Gone Out


Newsletter 36
08/07/10
The Beautiful Game

Newsletter 35
05/07/10
The Ethics of
Tiger Green Hunting

Newsletter 34
21/06/10
Tiger Hunt

Newsletter 33
26/05/10
The Year of the Tiger

Newsletter 32
11/02/10

Riding the Tiger


Newsletter 31
24/01/10

Runti's Journey


Newsletter 30
12/01/10

To intervene or not to intervene -
that is the question...

Newsletter 29
07/12/09

Lion - Tiger - Human Communication


Newsletter 28
12/11/09

Emotional humans, emotional cats


Newsletter 27
03/11/09

Julie gives birth to 5 tiger cubs


Newsletter 26
24/09/09

International Tiger Day


Newsletter 25
17/08/09

To all Photographers


Newsletter 24
16/07/09

A Shot in Anger


Newsletter 22
24/04/09


Newsletter 21
24/03/09


Newsletter 19
14/01/09

Tiger Birth
at Tiger Canyons


Newsletter 16
10/10/08

Tiger Courting


Newsletter 11
29/01/08

Privatizing the Tiger


Newsletter 9
27/10/07

Newsletter 8
28/09/07

Newsletter 7
14/09/07

Water Cats


Newsletter 6
14/08/07

Tiger Intelligence


Newsletter 5
16/05/07

Tiger language
Tiger Boma


Newsletter 3
09/03/07

Interspecies communication


Newsletter 2
06/02/07

Cub relocation


Londolozi
Newsletters

Death of a Legend
17/08/09


Newsletter 20
10/02/09

Newsletter 15
17/08/08

Painted Wolves


Newsletter 13
11/04/08

Response to Elephant Trust
by Daryl Balfour


Newsletter 12
09/04/08

Elephant Trust