One of the biggest criticisms I get, is that
my tigers are not purebred and therefore they have no value.
Some ignoramus's have described them as "trash tigers"
I grew up in the days of apartheid when the
white government tried unsuccessfully to keep the races apart.
Indians and coloureds were labeled
non-whites. Japanese, because South Africa was trading heavily
with Japan, were labeled "honoury whites"
In the 60's, the brilliant musician and
satirist, Jeremy Taylor, recorded a song called "The Immorality
Law". It suggested that the first thing that Jan van Riebeeck
and his men did when they landed at the Cape, was to crossbreed
all the black ladies to create the coloured race of South
Fortunately, they did not re-classify the
coloureds as Homo erectus vanriebeeckus.
Taylor suggests in the song that farmers are
cross breeding sheep, goats, cows, horses, pears and pumpkins to
create stronger strains.
The Apartheid Government didn't see the funny
side and threw Taylor out of the country.
Tiger Canyons -
Taylor's song reminds me of the time when I
was standing in the Karoo, surrounded by two hundred sheep and
the Government official said I couldn't bring the tiger into
South Africa because it was exotic.
"Where do the sheep come from?" I enquired.
The perplexed official admitted after some thought that they in
fact came from Europe.
South Africa is covered with trees from
Australia, Brazil, Europe.
Arabian horses are crossbred with American
Saddlers and many are found across the Karoo landscape.
Tens of thousands of rugby supporters flock
to rugby stadiums to watch a brilliant rugby player called Bryan
Habana, race down the wing to score spectacular tries. Nobody
says he's coloured, they just say he's brilliant.
Thousands flock to Tina Turner's rock
concerts. Nobody asks if her mother is Native American Indian
and her father is black American. If her concerts are good,
thousands will go to see her.
Some confused rock singers like Michael
Jackson are born black, but spend their lives trying to be
Ian Khama probably, Africa's most forward
thinking African politician in terms of conservation, is the
product of Sir Seretse Khama who had a British white wife.
Tourists don't ask what subspecies the tiger
is. Is the light good, is the tiger relaxed, is the guide
informative, can I get a good picture, is all they are concerned
The tigers were originally classified into 8
subspecies including Bengal, Siberian, South China, Indo
Chinese, Bali, Javan, Sumatran and Caspian.
British biologist Andrew Kitchener points out
that 7 of the 8 sub species were defined from only 11 specimens.
Some of the so called sub species, like the
Caspian, were already extinct, so the skin, length of body and
tail were considered when making the classification.
Tiger Canyons - Jade de Klerk
A small river divided the boundary of the
South China tigers and we all know tigers swim across rivers.
In short, the system was flawed and DNA has
now confirmed that it is incorrect.
A studbook system along these
classifications, was set up to get zoos to breed Bengal to
Bengal, Siberian to Siberian and so the world would have captive
populations of purebred subspecies of tigers.
Tiger Canyons - Mary-Beth and Bob Wheeler
When the Bengal tiger was finally extinct or
the Siberian tiger has passed on, we can then dip into the gene
pool and restore the tiger. This presumes that there is some
habitat left for tigers.
Tiger Canyons -
I agree with the studbook concept, because
there are many zoos that will inbreed tigers to create white
tigers or golden tigers purely for profit.
However, I ask the question, how many zoos
world wide have successfully put studbook tigers back into the
wild? I may be wrong, correct me if I am, but I believe the
answer is none.
Tiger Canyons - Dennis and Tertia Smit
There are 45,000 tigers in cages world wide
and some are studbook. But that's all they are, tigers in cages
that will never reach their wild potential.
When I started the tiger project in 2,000,
there were 26 Tiger Organizations raising money to save the
tiger world wide. There were reputed to be 5,000 wild tigers.
Today there are between 1,000 and 1,200 wild
tigers in the world. So where has the money gone from the 26
Tiger Organizations? It certainly has had no success in saving
the wild tiger.
The organizations raising money from the
public for the various subspecies, don't want to see the tigers
reclassified, because their particular subspecies is their bread
Tiger Canyons - Zelda Connock
So the last thing the "Friends of Siberian
Tigers" or "Help the South China Tiger" want to see, is their
tiger reclassified as Panthera tigris tigris - The Asian
In my opinion, the studbook concept is
academic. I feel extreme sympathy for the 45,000 tigers in
cages, in zoos, circuses and private collections. They are not
criminals and humans have no right to incarcerate them.
It's an indictment against the human species
that 45,000 tigers are "exhibits" in cages while a rapidly
diminishing population of 1,200 tigers is all we have in the
DNA has proved between the most northern
tiger in the snow to the southern tiger in the forest, there is
little genetic difference.
Snow tigers are bigger and lighter because
it's more efficient in a cold climate, southern forest tigers
are smaller and darker, more efficient in a hot, humid climate.
If I take the snow tiger and breed it with
the forest tiger, what do I get? I get strong, viable,
genetically diverse cubs with a high reproductive rate.
In other words, I get the best of the snow
tiger and the best of the forest tiger. In short, I get a Bryan
Habana and a Tina Turner.
When the smaller, darker wild dogs of East
Africa are extinct from rabies, distemper or loss of home range,
where will they look? They will look to the larger, more tan
patterned wild dogs of the south. They are the same species.
South Africa is presently giving black rhino
to Tanzania and Zambia.
South Africans are cross breeding buffalo
from Tanzania with buffalo from Addo, South Africa. Why?
Because it gives them a stronger buffalo with bigger horns that
hunters will pay more to shoot.
Hardened conservationists are now protecting
the exotic Australian blue gum, because its flower is vital to
the honey industry which would collapse if the blue gum is
Farmers have been doing this for a long time.
Conservationists are only now starting to think outside the box
and if you are going to save an apex predator like the tiger,
believe me, you need to think out of the box.
The tigers problem is simple, 1.6 billion
people in China, 1.2 billion in India, 29 million in Nepal, 15
million in Cambodia, 54 million in Burma (Myanmar), 90 million
Not one of these countries have a management
plan to save the tiger.
At least at Tiger Canyons we have a
population of 14 tigers. If we can capture more land, we can
turn this into 140 very quickly, as we all know. This will
represent 10% of the worlds present wild tiger population.
However, time is of the essence.