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 65
06/02/13

Corbett's Journey

Hello Friends

In September of 2008, Tigress Shadow mated with Tiger Ron. A hundred and four days later, Tigress Shadow gave birth to 4 cubs in a specially constructed den site, rigged with surveillance cameras.

 

At 10.30am of the 104th day of Shadow's pregnancy, the first cub was born. Filming from outside the den,  JV was able to capture the birth.

  

As soon as the cub's feet touched the ground, it waddled out of the den into 38 degrees heat. The cub immediately gave a distress call, but Shadow lay exhausted, unwilling to bring it back into the den.

After 15 minutes, JV picks up the cub and returns it to Shadow. Shadow thanks him with a "staccato chuffing". The cub promptly leaves the den for a second time. This time, by crawling next to the cub and "chuffing" the cub, it follows JV back into the den. Effectively, JV has had a conversation with a tiger cub less than 30 minutes old. The cub turns out to be a male and is later called Corbett.

Twenty minutes later, while standing, Shadow gives birth to a second cub. The picture reveals that the cubs claws are extended during the birth and it's the claws that cut the fetal sack and allows it to fall gently to the ground. Later 2 more normal cubs are born.

  

Six days after birth, Shadow carries the cubs one by one to a new den site. Each cub instinctively lies limp and silent in her jaws. Moving with her, JV films Shadow carrying the cubs. She growls softly, audible to the human ear. Shadow moves all 4 cubs into a small den amongst very thick bush and rocks.

Thrity days after birth, JV is anxious to weigh the cubs. While Shadow is away hunting, JV crawls into the den and discovers one of the male cubs is dead. By the position of the dead cub's body, he deduces that Shadow has sat on the cub. This is not unusual, it has been seen with inexperienced leopard mothers.

Two of the cubs retreat into the undergrowth and freeze, their spots and stripes invisible in the dappled light. The third cub, Corbett, hisses and spits and then attacks the camera. Just 30 days old, the aggression in Corbett is palpable.

Research suggests that the aggression is carried by a gene. Corbett's brother Sariska and his sister Panna, have turned out to be shy, retiring tigers, while Corbett has become extremely aggressive.

To study Shadow's reaction to the dead cub, JV puts the cub at the entrance to the den and waits in the safety of the jeep. On her return, Shadow grooms the dead cub for a few minutes and then picks it up in her mouth and returns it to the den.

Anxious to see if she will eat the cub, JV crawls into the den. Although he chuffs her, Shadow does not respond. Instead she stares at him, growling in the infra zone, inaudible to JV's ears (see newsletter 21)

Suddenly Shadow charges, knocking JV down. The camera, running wild, records the conversation between human being and tigress. Desperately chuffing the tigress from underneath her, JV is almost pleading with the Tigress not to harm him.

Shadow stands over him, pupils dilated, nostrils flared, head tilted in an aggressive posture. Gradually she relaxes and strolls back into the den, it had been an amazing, if not narrowing piece of interspecies communication.

For the next 3 months, Shadow keeps her cubs hidden from sight and virtually no pictures are captured. It is Tiger Canyons's first wild born, wild raised cubs.

At 9 months old, Corbett stalks a fencing crew. The man on lookout duty sounds the alarm, but Corbett charges, attempting to catch the fleeing workers. Fortunately all the workers gain the safety of the jeep.

At 19 months old, Corbett kills the white tigress Shine after poachers had shot her with a dart. As Shine was recovering from the drug and unable to protect herself, Corbett killed her by throttling her with a classic throat grip.

 

When JV discovers Corbett the next morning, he is extremely aggressive and has begun to feed off Shine. Later Corbett leaves Shine and circles around, waiting in ambush for JV to come to the dead tigress. As JV leaves the jeep to film Shine, Corbett charges from 60 metres. JV dives with camera into the jeep, but leaves the bean bag behind. Corbett shakes the bean bag so hard that some of the beans fly through the open window into the jeep.

At 21 months old, Corbett attempts to catch a blesbuck. As he slips underneath the blesbuck, going for the throat, the blesbuck spears him with its horn through his nostril, ripping his nose from his face.

After an incredible 3 hour operation, Dr Charlotte Moueix sews his nose back onto his face. Corbett is left with a distinctive scar across his nose.

 

After darting Corbett's brother, Sariska, to insert a microchip, JV is forced to go on foot to retrieve the dart from Sariska. From 80 metres, Corbett charges JV. To stop the charge, JV is forced to fire several shots in front of Corbett. Fortunately JV gains the safety of the vehicle.

At 24 months old, Tiger Canyons is hit by 300mm of rain. Four hundred metres of the eastern fence is washed away (see newsletter 41). Corbett is the first of the tigers to swim out of Tiger Canyons into the farm land.

  

 

As Ricky Pieterse is wading from his house to Tiger Canyons, Corbett charges from a reeded island towards Ricky. Ricky is initially aggressive to Corbett. Corbett circles him menacingly, trying to trip Ricky. Ricky changes his tactics and begins to chuff Corbett and talk in low, soothing tones. After 10 minutes, Corbett returns to the reeds without harming Ricky.

Undoubtedly, Ricky's ability to communicate with Corbett saves his life. It's another incredible example of interspecies communication.

Corbett's area has been completely destroyed by the floods. To prevent Corbett from being killed by the dominant male Seatao, JV is forced to put Corbett into a 10 Ha enclosure. This is the first wild tiger, at Tiger Canyons, taken into captivity.

 

At 39 months old, while JV is closing a gate, Corbett attacks JV (see newsletter 52) Due to incredible bravery by Julie Brown, Julie-Ann Reid and Phumlani Mchunu, JV miraculously survives the attack. Dedicated and skilled doctors, in a 6 hour operation at Bloemfontein Medi Clinic, save JV's life. Six more operations are needed before JV is released from hospital 5 weeks later.

While in hospital, JV decides to euthanize Corbett and run tests to determine whether there is any truth in the Chinese claim, that tiger body parts have medicinal properties.

Tiger supporters from all over the world protest JV's decision. The decision is reversed and plans are made to raise money for a larger area for Corbett.

At 46 months old, Corbett is darted and weighed. He tips the scales at 192 kg. He is in magnificent condition, in the prime of his life. He is measured so that in the future, a life sized bronze can be made to celebrate this magnificent tiger.

Corbett is 48 months old when Tiger Canyons is expanded by 3000 Ha. Fencing and stocking commences and at 54 months old Corbett will be released into the Greater Tiger Canyons. Here he will have to compete with male tigers larger than himself, if he is to capture his own territory. Fighting, mating, hunting and patrolling territory, will all release the pent up energy which he presently has in captivity.

Corbett is extremely well bred and there is no doubt that with his aggressive nature, he will in time become a very fine territorial male tiger.

Tread Lightly on the Earth


In the Jaws of the Tiger

JV's new book "In the Jaws of the Tiger" will shortly go to print. The book tells of 12 years of Tiger Conservation in the Karoo of South Africa.

Floods, snow storms, births and deaths, take the reader on an incredible roller coaster ride. Success and failure, bravery, accidents and near death escapes, litter the pages of the book. The book has over 100 colour photographs.

While humans fail in their attempts to save this magnificent cat, the tiger shines through as highly intelligent, incredible hunters, kind and caring mothers.

The tiger needs space, suitable habitat, abundant prey and above all, protection from human beings.

"If we can't save the tiger, how can we save ourselves?"
            JV
            Tiger Canyons
            February 2013

Signed, limited leatherback copies are being produced as well as regular copies.

The book is being self published and is only available through Tiger Canyons or Londolozi Game Reserve. All other purchases must be done via email.

 

Tread lightly on the Earth

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


Newsletters


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