JV and THE BIG CATS


Home

Mission

Founder: John Varty

Tiger Canyons
Tiger Experiment
Invest in Tigers
Tiger Canyons tigers

Tiger Anatomy

Tourism

Volunteers
Merchandise
Research
JV Image Library
JV's Music

JV's Films

Poaching

Tiger Conservation

Tiger Subspecies

Tiger Newsletters

Tiger Photo Gallery

Contact us


 

 


Select newsletter in right column


Newsletter 6
14/08/07

Tiger Intelligence


12/08/07
Shadow & Seatao after release
 

In many years of following leopards hunting at Londolozi, in the Luangwa Valley and in the Masai Mara, I came to the conclusion that no two leopards hunt the same.

A young leopard builds on its experience as it matures. Where it is successful, it re-enacts the hunting technique time and again, refining its methods.

Where it has experienced failure, it cuts out these techniques, saving its energy for more rewarding opportunities.

Often injury causes a leopard to completely abandon one strategy. I saw leopards that had a bad experience with warthog, completely refrain from hunting them. Other leopards  were happy to take the risk and sometimes reaped the rewards.

I believe tigers are similar in their hunting style and their ability to learn.

In over three hundred hunts, I never saw Ron & Julie co-operate in the hunt. Only in hunting ostrich, did they co-operate, often herding the ostrich towards the fence and trapping them against it.

All other species were hunted individually.

At eighteen months old, Seatao and Shadow tasted freedom for the first time. This is a diary of the start of their hunting careers:

Day 1:

They encounter a porcupine. Shadow gets a quill right through her left paw. I consider darting her to remove the quill, but she pulls it right thru the paw with her teeth. She recovers completely. The porcupine gets away. A hard lesson learnt.

Day 2:

Nothing.

Day 3:

A large tortoise is killed and eaten. I presume it is Seatao, as Shadow's jaws would not be strong enough. Ron successfully killed and ate many large tortoises which abound at Tiger Canyons. I have never seen Julie crush one. I have seen lions struggle to crush tortoises of a much smaller size, but have seen hyenas successfully crush them. I presume it must be something to do with the pressure the jaws can exert.

An interesting experiment would be to compare lion, hyena and tigers jaw pressure.

Whereas the porcupine has been a negative experience, the tortoise has been positive. The tigers will build on this.

Day 4 & 5:

Nothing that I can find.

Day 6:

An antbear is killed. From the tracks, it appears they caught it while it was foraging.

Previously, I had placed warthogs down burrows for a young lioness called Shingalana that I had raised. Later I had filmed her pull a big warthog from its burrow. The association between the burrow and potential food had been made.

Would the tigers learn to dig antbears from the burrows? If so, it's a very nice size kill and can tide them over between the big kills.

Day 7:

Despite blesbuck, springbuck, ostrich and steenbuck in the hunting area, no antelope had been captured.

Had I designed my hunting area with too little cover for the tigers?

On the north side is a magnificent wetland with tall elephant grass and many swimming pools.

On the south side, is short grass with low bushes, not that easy for a large bodied cat like a tiger to stalk in.

Day 8:


The mist provides cover for a hunting tiger

Tiger Canyons is covered in mist, the temperature is -1°C as I search for Shadow and Seatao at sunrise. Thru the mist, I see a  single springbuck grazing away from the herd. It will prove to be  a fatal error.

It will take several minutes before I see a tiger crouched behind a low bush. It is Seatao. His striped coat breaks up the outline of his body as he merges into the bush. Between him and the springbuck, there is no cover in which to get closer.

I have seen cheetah, lion and leopard all use rain to their advantage when stalking. Never mist.

Seatao's forward facing eyes never leave the feeding springbuck. He does not even turn his head to glance at me. The slightest movement could give him away. His concentration is intense. For such a young tiger, his patience is impressive.

We wait for 20 minutes. The only movement is the springbuck which grazes unconcernedly, lifting its head occasionally.

Then Shadow arrives. Her soft pads bring her silently to the scene. Quickly she sums up the situation. She backtracks behind my jeep, effectively using the jeep as a shield. She moves down a dry river bed, she is able unseen to get into a  position closer to the springbuck than Seatao. Every time the springbuck lifts its head, Shadow freezes.

Effectively, she has placed herself in a position where with  the jeep and Seatao, the springbuck is completely surrounded.

These are super predators, inexperienced yes, but highly intelligent, showing all the ingredients that will one day make them highly efficient hunters. From less than 12 paces Shadow makes her run. The springbuck has no chance. If it runs north, it runs into Seatao, if it runs south, it runs into my jeep.

The next 20 minutes prove fascinating. There is no quick suffocating bite to the throat. This is still to be learned. They jump around the springbuck like two kids with a new toy.

They maul and bat the unfortunate springbuck. Finally and mercifully Seatao grabs it by the throat and kills it.


Seatao has no idea on how to deliver a suffocating throat grip

I am surprised, normally females are quicker to learn and I would have thought Shadow would have killed it. However, she observed Seatao killing it.

The next 20 minutes are equally as fascinating. They appear to be celebrating.


Seatao has no idea on how to deliver a suffocating throat grip

After 20 minutes, Seatao delivers the kill bite to the throat

Shadow with her first kill

They take it in turns to romp, play and roll with the dead springbuck. Through the grass and into the water. Clearly there is joy and celebration.

I have seen this exact behavior with young lions in the Masai Mara.

An hour later, Seatao and Shadow began to feed. I had seen Seatao and Shadow co-operate in a hunt, something I had never seen Ron and Julie do.

For the conditions and the circumstances and the prey available, it may be that co-operative hunting will be more successful than individual hunting or they may also do both. Like leopards they will build on what proves to be successful for them.

Inside my specially designed caged vehicle, I too am celebrating. I have just filmed two young tigers successfully hunt a fleet-footed springbuck.

I liken Shadow and Seatao's first kill to watching my kids score their first goal in soccer or runs in a cricket game, or win a tennis match.

I had acquired Seatao and Shadow at 6 weeks old. Now they were free and hunting on their own. I was proud as could be.

At time of writing, they have been hunting for 23 days and have captured no less than 6 Blesbuck.

I am now in a good position to assess the "hands on method" we employed with Ron and Julie with the "hands off" method used with Seatao and Shadow and I'll bring you this in the next newsletter.

JV 

Tread lightly on the Earth

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


Newsletters


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