I am sitting on
top of my truck, behind Julie, watching a Karoo
sunset. To the south of us on the other side of the
fence, sits Ron. To the north, 3 cubs peer
cautiously out of the undergrowth.
With a long
series of chuffs, Ron appears to be giving some sort
of command to Julie. She in turn, talks to the
hiding cubs. All three cubs, on the command, creep
cautiously closer to Julie.
Julie & cub
Julie then turns
her head and chuffs me behind her. I have no idea
what Iím saying, but I chuff her back. My answer
seems to satisfy her.
What is clear is
that I am part of a conversation between Ron, Julie,
the cubs and myself.
Ron does not
seem satisfied with the result and gives another
chuffing command, which goes on for at least 30
the chuffing command to the cubs. This time they
creep closer, not to Julie but to Ron.
It is becoming
evident that Ron is telling Julie that he would like
to see the cubs and they should come closer to him.
I feel honoured
that I am included in the conversation.
obvious, is that Julieís chuff to Ron and to the
cubs and to me are not the same, there is a subtle
difference in tone and delivery.
I had previously
believed that tigers chuff when they greeted. Its
seems it is far more than this; it is a complex
communication system that they use. Is it a
language? I donít know. I hope one day we will find
Recent pictures of JV and Julie
The 14 kilometer
of 3.6 metre electrical fence is finally complete.
Its is a work of art. Hopefully the design can be
exported to tiger countries interested in separating
tigers and people.
Once the gabions
are finished, the area will be stocked with small
and medium size prey including Blesbuck, Springbuck,
Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Grey
Duiker and Steenbuck.
male tiger will have his own area and the females
can be rotated through the areas to produce the
widest genetic and hence healthiest cubs.
All tigers will
now become self sustaining and all new cubs will be
raised wild by their mothers.
I would like to
thank Neil McLaughlin, Pieter Simes, George, Andries
and all these who worked on the fence for their
outstanding contribution to Tiger Conservation.
Light & Peace