Founder: John Varty

Tiger Canyons
Tiger Experiment
Invest in Tigers
Tiger Canyons tigers

Tiger Anatomy


JV Image Library
JV's Music

JV's Films


Tiger Conservation

Tiger Subspecies

Tiger Newsletters

Tiger Photo Gallery

Contact us




Questions, Answers and Feedback:

Some letters and JV's response, will be published on the website...


Why would you choose to introduce and breed an exotic species on a new continent ? The funds could instead be going to set up populations, support conservation, and reduce animal-human conflicts in places such as India and China where tigers are native ? Plus, there are plenty of indigenous African animal species, such as gorillas, that could use the help and a sanctuary in their native continent.

Could you explain what was your theory and what inspired you to set Tiger Canyons in Africa ?

Please do not misunderstand me or take anything personally . I am a huge admirer of Tiger Canyons. This question was only to get an insight.

Hello Hiral 

Thank you for your email and here are my answers: 

Question 1 -

You will remember Project Tiger launched some years ago. There was some optimism and tigers even increased in some areas. Now the situation has returned to even worse than before Project Tiger. If powerful groups like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the I.U.C.N Cat Specialist Group cant save the tiger in Asia, then I certainly cant. 

I have modeled my project on the Arabian Oryx saved in the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona and now successfully returned to the middle east.  

Tiger Canyons is halfway between the 45,000 tigers in captivity, and the 1,500 dwindling tigers in the wild. To be honest with you, I don't know of one Asian government committed to saving the tiger (this includes India, and Nepal). 

The human populations in Asia are so huge and growing so rapidly that Asian governments are more concerned with growing food, housing, education, poverty, and fresh water for humans than they are about tiger conservation.  

India and Pakistan seem determined to have a war, so further valuable resources will go up in smoke. With the budget of just one day of the Iraqi war, we could save the tigers in the wild. 

In a recent interview, the interviewer said "We would never lose the tiger in the wild", and my reply was "You have already lost the cheetah in the wild in Asia, what makes you think you can save the tiger?" 

Question 2 -

There are more than 20 groups across the world raising money for tigers, but show me the success stories, show me even one success story. The two tigers (Ron and Julie) here have been directly, and indirectly responsible for changing 61,000 hectares of land from domestic stock to wildlife. I think you will agree that this has huge value in conservation? 

It is possible that one day you may see the tiger, the lion, the leopard, and the cheetah interacting at Tiger Canyons like they once did on the Asian continent 

Question 3 -

I put my faith in private enterprise, not governments. The black  and white rhino, and the wild dog have been saved largely by private enterprises working in conjunction with National and Provincial Parks. I believe the tiger will be saved the same way. Therefore, large tracts of land and viable populations of tigers need to get into the hands of private enterprise. Asian governments have simply failed to protect the tiger. 

It really doesn't matter whether the tiger sanctuaries are in Australia, Texas, or South Africa. What is needed is money, suitable land, suitable prey, a fenced park, and a commitment to saving the tiger. For this to succeed, the project must be viable. In other words, it must not rely on donations, it must sustain itself and be profitable in the free market economy. 

I am a cat conservationist so I put my effort into endangered cats.  

Gorilla conservationists, rhino conservationists, and wild dog conservationists will come to the same conclusions, you need money, land, protection and vision to save these endangered species. Private individuals and private enterprise are often able to respond quicker than bureaucratic governments can, and therefore I put my faith in them. 

Question 4 -

I live in Africa, I am unable to live and work anywhere else. Africa has the best blue print for saving the tiger because they have already succeeded with lion, leopard, and cheetah. Large, fenced units of suitable land using indigenous prey, with research, tourism, communication and social economic components, run by private enterprise is the key. 

Conclusion -

Many people ask me what they can do to help save the tiger? My answer is to find suitable land for the tiger. I have a blue print for enclosing that land, establishing the tourism, the research, and involving the surrounding  human communities, as well as stocking the prey. I also have a surplus of tigers from Tiger Canyons which are free-ranging and self-sustainable. I do not have the land, the money, or the political connections outside South Africa. 

Tread lightly



You are my hero and will remain so. But you are one of the few among billion people on earth.

The biggest culprit in this whole episode of Tiger Disappearance is "china". That is the most brutal country for animals and their existence. They live on double standards. Look at this example, they protect pandas so royally (which is good) because they consider Panda as their national treasure but how shameless they are that they go and kill other nationalities treasure like tigers in India, Elephants in Africa for Ivory.

You take any trail of animal cruelty, it will lead to China.

About Mittal & Ambani's, that wealth is useless if not distributed for the right cause. You ask many millionaires and billionaires for donation to election or human cause, millions will be generated in flash and ask the same person for $ 10 to animal cause, sorry you will have a hard time to generate even that amount. you will find more money in your own pocket than a billionare's pocket.

Why because all these rich look at Returns on Investments. What is their returns by spending on animal cause. ZERO, so why invest. Self centered and selfish are the great attributes that make many people rich. These two attributes go hand in hand with ultimate returns, "increase in wealth". In animal world one cannot be selfish because animals suffer. 

I wrote to Bill Gates/Mark Cuban of Dallas Mavericks that donate 100 million in Africa for food but even if they donate even 1% of that, entire animal conservation efforts across the world will be fulfilled, atleast for short time. What was the reply? We don't move in that direction. I wrote to many personalities in Hollywood, Business tycoons, none responded.

I wrote to Roger Federer for vocal support and not money. What was the reply not interested. I wrote entire South African cricket team members never heard. I thought Johnty Rhodes may be.

John - There are very few rich people who donate for the cause and these people are never in limelight because animal cause and celebrity status don't go together. It is very difficult for a famous person to associate and be identified for animal cause, offcourse with exceptions. Most of them are known for having house on famous street, or clothing & perfume line. Look at Jennifer Lopez she uses animal fur for her clothing line. How dumb you can be not to realize that leather is made from killed animal.

Sunil Potnis


Dear JV, 

We have come to understand from your mail that you are keen on shifting Tiger Canynon to India if an adequate land is made available.  

The whole idea seem to be very risky for the tigers since the places in India that are meant for the conservation of the tigers have become a haven for the poachers. The same is witnessed in sariska national park which is three kms from the national capital of India. As on date the entire tiger population in the park has vanished and a simialar fate is awaiting for tigers in other national parks. Thanks to the callous attitude of forest officials and corrupted politicians, poaching has become very rampant in India. Even if you wish to relocate the project to India we doubt very much that you would get any support from the government. 

Hence, we sincerely request you to rethink about your idea of relocating the Tiger Canynon. We still feel the place where it is currently located is ideal for the tigers since you have a strong hold over there. 

We look forward to your views too. 


Satya & Dr.Niveditha 

Greetings from Minnesota
I have just recently found out about your conservation efforts, and really enjoyed watching your film on animal planets Tiger Week.  It prompted me to look up your web page.  I really like what you guys are doing, but a few things struck me.  First, I'm interested in your fence, there is very little information available online about your fence.  Is it a complex system, or is it simple.  I'm a Civil Engineering student at the University of Minnesota and so I'm interested in silly things like foundation designs, concrete and steel, and how you might be using these things in the design for your fence.  Is your fence complete?  If not, what stage of development is it in?  The University of Minnesota wants very badly to be one of the worlds top research institutions, it seams to me that your work could be relevant to a number of different departments here.

Nicholas Johnson

Thank you for your most interesting email.

I believe the fence at Tiger Canyons is one of the keys to tiger conservation. If Asian countries are serious about tiger conservation, they will have to separate people and domestic stock from tigers. In Africa we have done this very successfully in National and Private Parks.

Tigers are good jumpers, better than lions, so our fence is 3.6 metres high, with an overhang at a 45 degree angle. No less than 8 electrical wires are attached to the main fence, ranging from 10 cm from ground level to 3 metres in height. The entire fence can be run by solar panel energizers of it can be run from main electric supply if available.

I suggest you contact Neil Maclaughlin of Maclin Fencing (maclin@mweb.co.za). He is the world expert and designed the Tiger Canyons fence. The leaders in electric fence technology are a New Zealand Company called Gallagher.

In front of the main fence is a 1.2 metre trip wire. This wire takes 85% of all the contacts. It also keeps the tigers off the main fence. Be careful to keep all electric wires high enough off the ground to allow for tortoises, mongooses etc. to move underneath the wire without harm.

What is needed, is an enterprising person (what about you) to take the electric fence technology to Asia and helps Asian Conservationists to fence their parks with this prototype. In this way you would greatly assist the last tiger populations battling to survive against the tide of rising humanity.

Please keep in touch and I will put you on my mailing list.



I am interested in obtaining some of the photos of the tigers and of the julie and the lion cub. My class has been following the project for three years.

D Radel
Tamap Catholic High School, Florida

Hello Debra

Thank you for your nice email.

I have a Living with Tigers DVD and I have 3 tiger conservation T-shirts which you could perhaps give to your pupils who do the best tiger projects.

Please send me their projects, so I can put them of the web site.

Keep up the good work and give my love to the kids.

Light and Peace

Hello John Varty,

I am student and i study biology and anatomy of felines and other large carnivores. And i can distinct tiger subspecies by their stripe patterns as the stripes are different in each subspecies. I would like to ask if the tigers in Tiger Canyons are purebred? As far as my knowledge goes, the ti gers you have, are not registered in any tiger subspecies studbook and their stripe pattern looks like hybrid Siberian/Bengal Tiger.

Tiger subspecies are actually easy to distinguish and i am very sure your tigers are not purebred bengal tigers. I understand this because that light long fur and thick tails they are sporting are an amur trait, along with the wider heads and thicker necks. So i assume they are crossbred Bengal/Siberian tigers.

All purebred captive Bengal tigers (Panthera Tigris Tigris or Panthera Tigris bengalensis), are located in zoos of India, with the exception of a Bengal tigress located in North America. And your tigers are from Bowmanvile Zoo in Canada, where no purebred Bengal Tigers exist. So am i right to guess that neither of your tigers are purebred? As a conservationist, you should understand that there is no conservation value to breed hybrid tigers. And plus, it isn't legal to release crossbred tigers into the wild anywhere according to my knowledge.

Anyway, i also heard about Andrew Kitchener's theory of tiger subspecies. According to his theory, "Within any given subspecies, there is variation in size and coloring from individual to individual, and there is often overlap in morphology between subspecies, but the tiger has adapted to cope with the different habitats, climates and available prey. The most northerly animals are generally larger, paler, and have thick, shaggy coats to cope with the cold, while the southern animals, which live in dense jungle and intense heat, are smaller, darker, and have shorter fur."

But there is a flaw in this. If South China or Indochinese tiger is considered the same subspecies as a siberian tiger, then why don't they grow as huge as the siberian tiger in captivity where they live in similar living conditions as their large cousins? And why is there such a big difference between stripe patterns of each subspecies? Up till now the "Official" list of subspecies of tigers are 9 subspecies, not 3. Andrew Kitchener's theory is rejected.

Leo (Southern Asia)

Hello Leo. Thank you for your interesting email.

It seems the tigers are like leopards. In the mountains of South Africa occurs a smaller leopard. In the Negev desert in Israel, I saw very light coloured small leopards. In the Aberdares in Kenya, some dark and even black leopards. At Londolozi, the coat patterns of leopards can vary depending on the gene line.

You should correspond with Natasha de Woronin (tasha@leopardresearch.com). She is able to tell from the leopard coat pattern which family tree it's from.

However, they are all one species with local adaptations.

Tiger Canyons is first and foremost an experiment. The experiment is based on the latest molecular research, which has all mainland tigers as one species (Panthera tigris tigris - The Asian Tiger)

All the tigers at Tiger Canyons are white gene carriers and one of the experiments being conducted, is to do cub relocations. This involves taking a young cub from a captive tigress and introducing it into wild tigress's litter.

Because tigers in Asia are today so fragmented, the natural dispersal no longer occurs. There are simply too many people and too much tiger homerange has been lost.

If I were to breed a white cub, I would not hesitate to introduce it into a wild litter, if a suitable tigress can be found.

The park would of course have to be safe and the country concerned, have a government which is committed to tiger conservation. The logical question is would the wild tigress kill a cub of different colour.

Recently, I successfully introduced a brown lion cub into a tiger litter, so I believe it is entirely possible if done right.

Should a white cub be raised in the wilds, I believe it would greatly help conservationists save the park in question. The only wild tiger in the wilds would indeed be a treasure that no government could ignore. Therefore, my policy is to do cub relocation to increase genetic diversity and if luck plays her hand, to relocate a white cub as a political maneuver to create world awareness to the plight of the tiger.

The Tiger Canyons experiment has large hunting areas where the tigers are free ranging and self sustaining, but have interleading gates to that I am able to shift the males from one area to another and so get the best possible cross breeding and produce the strongest offspring that I can.

One other point that is interesting, is that Tiger Canyons can go below 0 degrees in the winter with occasional snow. In the summer, it can go 40 degrees Celsius. To combat the hot and the cold, tigers have a summer and winter coat. In winter it's thick and shaggy and in summer, it slims down to a fine coat rather like a lion. 

With Julie raising a lion, I am often able to compare the two qualities of camouflage between lion and tiger. The lion is very effective in the brown grass which dominates at Tiger Canyons and tigers are very effective in the dappled light of the riverine bush. In the rocky outcrops, they are both exceedingly effective.

In the Karoo and through to the Kalahari, a very light, almost white grass dominates. Lion cubs in these areas tend to be very light to camouflage with the grass. In Kruger Park, Londolozi area Themedia trianda - oat grass - dominates an lion cubs in this area are a tan colour and more spotted.

Shingalana, an orphaned lion cub which I found at Londolozi, was a reddish tan colour, while Savannah, who comes from a Kalahari gene line, is much lighter.

Isn't it wonderful how nature provides for every niche, yet they are all one species of lion.

I will put you on my mailing list and keep the interesting emails coming. This is why we have web sites.

Light and peace

Dear Mr. Varty
I felt I had to write after watching the film on the discovery channel called A Secret life.

Whilst a commend your efforts, something in this film had a profound effect on me, at first I couldn't quite put my finger at what had angered me as I never had felt this way about a nature film before. It may be that I am ignorant as I have only seen animals in zoos and maybe I don't fully understand these majestic animals although I have a wary respect for them and I have only seen one film that you have made.

I am certainly not asking you to justify yourself I don't feel worthy enough, and I am not trying to disrespect you in anyway. So please do not take my comments as a form of disrespect this is not my intention but I just want to understand.

I am not an animal activist, or affiliated with any kind of association I am just a member of the public that watched a film.

The first few minutes of the film I found uncomfortable because you were a hunter who was left this land, to make money, you switched from being a hunter to having a safari - so in the first instance you didn't really do this for the love of the animals but to keep the land that you inherited. Ok I can understand this you have to do what is necessary to keep what's yours but how easy was it to make the transition from hunter to animal conservationist? Was this a difficult transition to make because from the film it looked quite easy.

Secondly, you started to film, for many years, a big cat and even intruded when one of her cubs died. You disrespected her boundaries and she charged at you. I am sure you would have felt the same way if someone had intruded on a private moment that you were having.

Then you started interacting with these animals when you raised a lion cub. This seemed like a total experiment on your part with no real thought of the consequences. The lion could then not be accepted into a pack because of her interaction or dependency on you.

Now you are "experimenting with tigers" and this gets me a little worried. I have seen pictures of you interacting with big cats, almost like they were pets.

I can't help but question - is this right? Is this right that man should be allowed to experiment and interact with these wild big cats in this way - what consequence will become of this? I can understand you wanting to help but is it right to have so much interaction in this way? Man is the biggest cause of destruction with wars and now global warming. Could your interaction be affecting these animals?

I understand that we have to understand these animals but why can't this be done at a distance through observation? I understand that we need to help but why do you need to interact with them?

Now you bought Tigers to Africa to experiment on, with I feel, no serious thought to the consequence that may come from this. I know there are few tigers in Asia but rather than bring them to Africa - why couldn't there be a program where Tigers could bread and have a reservation in Asia?

By bringing the Tigers to Africa what is are you trying to achieve? What effect does this have to the environment? What effect would this have to the food chain in Africa? And is this going to stress Tigers by taking them out there natural environment?

There are enough big cats in Africa and there is balance. In life there is always a balance, there is always a reason for the way things are. By bringing Tigers into this balance this will upset the balance - next we will be trying to save impala's and types of deer and zebra's etc because if we integrate Tigers into Africa there will not be enough food to go around.

And what gives you the right to experiment on these tigers and to take them from their natural habitat? 

I understand that you have a passion for big cats and you want to save each and every one of them and I fully commend you for that and I respect what you are trying to do, but I have to ask is this the right way to do it? Is it right to have this interaction with them when normally they would not interact with humans at all? Is right to take Tigers out of the natural habitat and introduce them to Africa where the balance/food chain will be disturbed? Surely a bigger challenge would be to try to save tigers in their natural habitat.

The film raised a lot of questions for me. I have seen a lot of nature type shows where we are just interacting with dangerous animals far too much. These animals are stressed enough with their environment and being observed and now we feel the need to interact with them I don't think we/humans should have the right to do this.

I would like to thank you for the time you have taken to read my letter and I hope my comments did not upset or offend you in anyway. I truly hope that you succeed in your efforts.

Respectfully yours.
Lorna Joseph

Hello Lorna

Thank you for your interesting E-mail, this is exactly why I have a web site - to share ideas with people like you around the world.

I grew up as a hunter. My grandfather and my father were both hunters. In fact my grandfather's love of hunting caused the now famous Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve to be formed in 1926 in South Africa.

The famous Londolozi Game Reserve, which I co-own with my brother, is part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and is well-known for its leopard populations.

As I traveled through my own evolution, I rejected the killing of animals for sport and turned in 1983 to make wild life films carrying powerful conservation messages.

I have made more than 30 films for Discovery, National Geographic, BBC and Turner Productions amongst others.

After the film "Living with Tigers" showed in 106 countries, 330 000 hits were recorded on the Tiger Web Site. This shows the concern for tigers world wide and inspires me to carry on with the project.

I have seen many African and Asian countries destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of natural habitat and convert it to agriculture to feed the expanding human populations.

South Africa is one of the few countries where private individuals can own the wildlife. By making wildlife profitable, South Africa has been able to expand its areas under wildlife, in contrast to other countries whose wild areas are diminishing. "If it pays, it stays " is a catch phase used in South Africa to describe the sustainability of wildlife.

Regarding the intrusion of the mother leopard - your point is well taken. At Londolozi, every night, we shine spotlights in leopards eyes, follow them when they try to hunt and visit their den site to view their cubs. We inconvenience them for a limited time each day. In return we provide them with an ideal habitat, plenty of prey and protection from poachers and hunters.

It is a symbiotic relationship so to speak and long may it survive.

Many times I have overstepped the intrusion boundary and regretted it afterwards. On one accession after messing up a leopard hunt, I stopped filming leopards completely.

The lion cub Shingalana, was an orphan. Lionesses don't raise single cubs.

As a filmmaker, I could have simple waited for a hyena to come along and kill the cub and shot a dramatic sequence. Instead I rescued her and spend 4 years with her in the bush at Londolozi and in Zambia's Luangwa Valley.

Shingalana taught me not only about lions, but about life itself.

The entire Zambian cabinet came to visit Shingalana at our camp and at that meeting, I was invited to write the first privatization of Zambian National Parks for the government. I like to think that this document changed the course of conservation in Zambia. A great deal of thought, commitment and a great deal of knowledge was gained from the Shingalana project.

Three times I nearly lost my life in that project. Once in a helicopter accident, another when I was attacked by lions, a third in a severe attack of malaria.

However, if I had my time, I would do it all again. Shingalana touched many people especially children. Many cats, dogs, pets, a racehorse, an art gallery, a restaurant and a game lodge were named after Shingalana.

The tigers experiment, and that's what it is, an experiment, is an ex-situ conservation project.

In India the tiger competes with ± 320 people per square kilometer. In China, 139 people per square kilometer. At Tiger Canyons in South Africa, they compete with two people per square kilometer.

The tiger experiment is not an attempt to bring tigers to Africa. The tiger experiment is an attempt to set up a model park, which can be copied in Asia.

It has a research component, a tourist arm and a communication facility which communicates the successes and failures world wide. In short, it is a living experiment.

It has the most modern tiger fence in the world and successfully separates tigers from people and domestic stock. This I believe, is what Asian authorities will have to do if they are serious about saving the tiger.

In short, at Tiger Canyons a politician, businessman, conservationist and anyone of influence, can view a park and take the ideas back to their own country.

In pursuit of knowledge I have a very personal relationship with my original tigers. The tigers that may go back to Asia, will be third and fourth generation tigers raised by their mothers, fully able to sustain themselves and with a natural fear of human beings.

Your comment about the food chain is irrelevant, the tigers are presently operating on an area of 5000 hectares which is fenced. The energy of the two original tigers Ron and Julie, has directly and indirectly caused ± 60 000 hectares to be changed from exotic sheep to wildlife. I think you will agree, this is a massive contribution to conservation in South Africa.

Your comment about human beings upsetting the balance is well known and well documented.

If you are a Gaia person as I am, then you will agree that our fragile planet is running a high temperature and as it seeks to normalize its temperature, it may do this by greatly reducing its most notorious inhabitant, human beings.

Wouldn't it be ironic if in the process, as planet earth balances the books, tigers may bounce back where human being have been removed.

In the meantime, tigers need all the help they can get. Human beings have created their demise, human beings must try to rectify.

Our time in earth is a short one, I choose to spend my time in the company of tigers. I find it most rewarding and spiritually uplifting.

I hope I have answered some of your questions. Keep corresponding with me and I will put you on the mailing list.

Love Light & Peace

Hi, Iam a big fan of Living with Tigers. I was just wondering when are the lions going to be released and are you going to release a pride of captive or wild lions. Are the tiger counted as wildlife of africa now. I  am so happy that on the 30th of October all 6 tigers will be in the wild. How many wild tigers can tigers canyons hold. Are there spotted hyenas and jackals in tigers canyon. Hope everything goes good
Stephen (England)

I saw Living with Tigers last night. It was a awsome show. How are the Tigers doin? Bentley

Any prospect of introducing cheetah at Tiger Canyons?
Great trip to Londolozi 2 yrs ago, by the way.
Mark Vincent (Canada)

Just recently stumbled on your website, hoping to find information on the continuation of the Tiger project (I saw the film on Discovery awhile back....). I was afraid it might have folded, so was greatly elated to discover otherwise! I wish I was able to donate a coupla million bux whenever you needed it, but alas, I am but a poor zookeeper! I have got into numerous discussions with whiny purists who are negative about your project, and I have defended it LOUDLY at every opportunity! So I have definetely enjoyed the website! Who knows, maybe I'll inherit some money or win a lottery or something.......
Lane Batot (N. C., U.S.A.)

Hi this is steven I am 15 years old and from london Will the tigers becounted as wildlife (because if they where would'nt it make them the largest predators in africa) and when I get older I want to become a wildlife photographer a I want to photography wild apex predators and I wanted to know if there would be a wild poplation of tigers in africa

I also think that it would be intesting to add spotted hyenas (since you may add lions and cheetah to see the intereaction between the species) it would be intesting to see if the hyenas will displace The big male tiger Ron, because they usually don't attack male lions. But it may be to dangerous for the lone female tiger a cubs. I think what you are doing is great.

My girlfriend an me will marry next year and we will then spend our holiday in Southern Africa. I have been to Africa during my studies a few times but she hasn't been there yet. I love the nature there and I want to show her my second love after her.

I am working as a mathematician but besides maths I have also studied biology. I wrote my diploma thesis on the aardvark. There didn't exist an encyclopaedic description of the biology of the aardvark before and I have written one. Therefore I did a lot of literature research and also I run a survey with African game parks and zoos keeping aardvarks. Even though I have tried hard to find an aardvark on my journeys to Southern Africa, I wasn't lucky enough to encounter one. I was, however, lucky enough to have plenty of other rare sightings. Now I started to plan the route for our trip to Africa. As said it will be our honeymoon. The first trip to Africa together but also the last one as I guess, for its a quite expensive activity. 

Yesterday evening we watched a German documentation called 'tigers in Africa' and we were very impressed by the pictures we saw. It's a very interesting experiment. We would like to visit your tigers on our trip so thats why I contact you. We will come to Africa about July next year (2008). So my questions are as follows:

- On your homepage I found you organize gamedrives. How long do they last, when do you go out, how much do they cost?

- Are the tigers still radio-collared? If not, is it like in other gameparks where you might be lucky to see some predators or you wont. Do you know their habits and therefore find them regularly? So what about the chances to find them?

- How long should we stay to have good chances to have some impressive moments with the tigers and to get some nice shots?

- You will surely excuse me, but I have to ask: Are there aardvarks in the park? Is there any chance to encounter one on our stay?

Just in case you have interest to glance at my thesis on the aardvark (it's written in English) you can download it at http://www.tierseiten.com/roehrenzaehner/aardvark.pdf

Thank you very much in advance and I already look forward to your answer.
All the best,

Joachim Knoethig (you can name me Joe – that’s easier) 

Hello Joe

Thank you for your interesting email. The success of a big predator, is the ability to survive on smaller prey between the big kills.

In the Masai Mara, the lions feast off wildebeest during the times if the migration and when the migration is over, hunting becomes more difficult. Now they shift to smaller prey like warthog to sustain themselves.

At Tiger Canyons, Julie the best hunter, has been very successful with wildebeest and blesbuck, but in between these big kills, she has successfully caught aardvark.

Weighing over 30 lbs, the meat is a delicacy and provides more than a snack for a hungry tiger. Tiger Canyons is in the heart of prime aardvark range and there are many aardvark burrows scattered around Tiger Canyons.

Aardvark are hard on fences and if the electric fence is not working, they will simply burrow under the fence. I have broken many jeep springs when falling into aardvark burrows at night. Twice I have had to walk out when the jeeps simply could not be extracted from a aardvark burrow.

Although there is signs of aardvark everywhere, they are seldom seen, as they emerge well after dusk.

Driving with a spotlight, your chances of seeing an aardvark are good but not guaranteed.

I suggest you contact Philip and Lynne Richardson who studied and filmed aardvark.

Kind regards

My name is Steven Kelliher and I'm sure you get this a lot, but Living with Tigers was my favorite documentary of all time and I've been awaiting updates ever since it aired on Discovery in 2003. I heard something along the lines that Ron and Julie were taken back from their large open sanctuary. Is this true? I thought they were released into the entire park at the end of Living with Tigers...

Also, are Shadow and Seatao completely on their own in the full Tiger Canyons Sanctuary? I remember during Living with Tigers, there was a large hunting Boma before opening out into the full park, so i was wondering where in these respects Ron, Julie, Shadow, and Seatao were...

Also, is it true Lions might be introduced into the sanctuary in time?

My most important question (please answer this if nothing else): will there ever be follow-up documentaries on discovery or any channel cataloging these wild African tigers? I know you said you've been filming and at the end of Living with Tigers it said "the story will continue..." but I have yet to see it materialize.
Steven Kelliher

Hello! I enjoyed the documentary "living with tigers" and feel passionate about the conservation efforts being made.I have been following the progress on the jvbigcats site and  I think the Tiger Canyons project is wonderful as it a pro- active attempt to increase numbers in a temporary suitable environment rather than a concrete jungle!

 I am in the UK and at some point hope to get out there to visit. I would be really interested in anything I can do fundraising, raising awareness I wish to offer you my practical help and ask if you would have any information I could send to my daughters school for a talking point (they are the future after all). My 6 year old is already a budding conservationist she sponsors a tiger in Nepal and can explain to her friends why they need the money.

    Please let me know what I can do to help, I don't have a lot of money but I have time and dedication to offer. If it is ok with you also I would like to link this page to my myspace page and ask friends to do the same ( not a huge thing but again raises interest) 
Sarah (UK)

I'm 26 years old and have always had a love for all big cats. I would love nothing more then to help those animals in need.  I have adopted the African Lion and the Siberian Tiger at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, but I want to help the cats who are trying to survive in the wild, too.  Please let me know of any donation that I can send to help Ron, Julie, and other wild cats.
Elizabeth Falter, Dublin, OH 43016

A few weeks ago, me and my friends visited you during our stay in Philippolis at the Round Square Int. Service project. Since that time I am totally enthused and committed to your project. I am 18 years old and doing my final year at Schule Schloss Salem in Germany. Since I have only one more year left in school I now have to think about what to do afterwards. Often i had thougt about taking a gap year before going to university without knowing exactly what I would like to do - until I saw your project. The sustainability, the takeover of responsibility in such a global dimension and of course the life with animals caused my decision to ask you if it would be possible to work at your project for a year or a few months in 2008. Furthermore I had the idea to ask the chief editor of Germany's most popular intellectual weekly newspaper called "Die Zeit" ("The Time") to publish something about your project. Please write me if I should try that.
Philipp Brix (Germany)

Dear Mr Varty,
I am from Singapore, a place in Asia, where malayan tigers once roamed freely. But the last tigers were hunted down decades ago, thus i have an ambition to be a tiger conservationist, and to save the world's remaining tigers in the future.

I feel that your documentary, "Living with Tigers" is perhaps the best documentary yet. Watching Ron and Julie hunt on the African plains is simply fascinating! Looking at Julie catching the ostrich is extremly surprising. It is very noble of you to undertake such a task to save tigers, i am very glad that a person like you still exist, someone who puts in so much effort to save an endangered species. I am very grateful and thank you for your efforts to save this asian cat, i sincerely hope Asian conservationist can learn from your project and use this strategy to save the tigers.

Anyway, i have another question for you. Are you going to introduce African lions and African cheetahs into the tiger canyons to study the interaction of these big cats?

Thank you for your time
My full Respect and Admiration
Raphael Heng Siang Wei, Singapore

before a few weeks me and my friends visited you whilst our stay in Philippolis at the Round Square Int. Service project. Since that time I am totally enthused and committed to your project. I am 18 years old and doing my final year at Schule Schloss Salem in Germany. Since I have only one more year left in school I now have to think about what to do afterwards. Often i had thougt about taking a gap year before going to university without knowing exactly what I would like to do - until I saw your project. The sustainability, the takeover of responsibility in such a global dimension and of course the life with animals caused my decision to ask you if it would be possible to work at your project for a year or a few months in 2008. Furthermore I had the idea to ask the chief editor of Germany's most popular intellectual weekly newspaper called "Die Zeit" ("The Time") to publish something about your project. Please write me if I should try that.

Philipp Brix (Germany)

Hi John

My hubby and I watched “Living with tigers” this week for the first time and were totally captivated by your footage.  Thank you for sharing your passion for these magnificent creatures with us.  The ripple effect of what you are doing to educate homo sapiens is far greater than you know.

I have taught in South Africa and in the UK and have shared with the many little ones that I have had the privilege to work with about the plight of the Black Rhino in Southern Africa.  Now, after seeing your film, I will be adding the Asian tiger to these lessons.  In my experience, children absorb, feel and respond incredibly to appeals for animal conservation.  We will certainly try and do our bit to help spread the news.

With the advances in technology today, it will be possible to share your website with the many children I come into contact with.  If you have any further information that you think would help get the message out, please send it my way!

Looking forward to seeing what comes next from Tiger Canyon


Dear Mr Varty
Being thoroughly stunned by the Discovery Ch. Living With Tigers, let me express my kudos to your mission!!! Wonderfull episode!!! Revelation!!!

Rare case to see such a devotion and commitment like youre. I am happy to know that Ron and Julie are in such a good condition after several years, and to see the cubs, particularly the lioness inserted! Description of Julie's reception of the lion cub is literally breathtaking...!

I am too far and far away of any financial possibility to support this wonderful project, but I am praised to write a few words to let you know you are a truly big man!

I'd be grateful if you could forward this to Mr Dave Salmoni.

My admiration and truly best wishes,
Zoran Mihajlovski, Professor of psychology, Skopje, Macedonia


I was wondering what the area is of Tiger Canyon?  Are the Tigers completely wild in that total area? Also how much do you charge for a trip and everything you have to offer?Fernando

Area 1 000 Ha
Tigers are presently ranging in 400 Ha and hunting blesbuck, springbuck, impala.
Julie is raising 3 cubs and I am hunting with them and atempting to record sonar communication during the hunt. 

Prices depend on what you want - photographic opportunities are terrific.
I am filming but sometimes available to take individuals to the tigers.


Hello John
I found your website after watching a Discovery Channel Quest (Ron and Julie), absolutely beautiful - made me smile and cry - beautifully presented. Your affinity with the tigers is obvious and the trust and love they place in you is very apparent. 

I notice a number of other films you have made therefore will be searching for those as well. 

I see in your travels you have been here in Australia and I wondered when you came out and what your purpose had been here. 

I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland with my two children and late last year we lost Steve Irwin a crocodile/reptile conservationsist and outspoken hero on wildlife habitat. 

I wonder if you had the opportunity to meet with Steve. It was unbelievable to me when Steve died as a result of being stabbed by a stingray bard whilst doing what he loved and lived for. You just don't think it possible for somebody so absolutely alive to simply not be here any longer. I wonder if you have had any close calls throughout your career. 

I love the big cats and the elephants and sometimes wish my life had taken a different path - like yours. Thank God there are people like you in this world to do what the rest of us maybe wish we had done - make a difference. 

I will be watching your website with interest. 

Vanessa Bond, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Dear Vanessa 

I had a great time in Australia and hung out in Arnhem Land with Aboriginees who taught me a lot about the Australian bush. I regret I did not have Elmon Mhlongo, my Shangaan friend and tracker at the time who would have enjoyed meeting the Aboriginees. 

I like Australians except when they beat us at cricket and rugby :-) 

I was a big fan of Steve Irwin - I think he did a huge amount for awareness across the world.  I have been knocked down by both lion and tiger and crashed in a helicopter during my work. Unlike Steve, I have been one of the lucky ones. 

My advise to you, Vanessa, is to take your 2 kids and follow your dream and your passion. My daughter, Savannah, spent the first 6 years of her life in  Kenya and Zambia with her own teacher.  

The bush will teach them and enrich you more than any school can. 

Love, Light and Peace
JV (call me James)

Hi I watched your documentation Living with Tigers. Now I wanna ask you what happened to Ron and Julie? In your website I saw Julie with her cubs but one of them is a lion. I couldn't understand is it her cub or its a lions cub and Julie is making mothership. I saw no photos of  Ron I wish nothing bad happened to him.

Ron is fine - I will add some recent pictures of him...
Read the article about cub relocation - that will explain the presence of the lion

I love the story of Ron and Julie. My two boys age 5yrs and 9yrs. watch it over and over. They received a set of Discovery DVDs for Christmas last year and love this one. We were wondering what happened to Ron and Julie so I decided to look it up on the Web. I could find nothing recent on Discovery but finaly found your site. I am so happy they are thriving and having ofspring. What did you do with the cub you removed from Julies litter? Did you introduce it to another litter or are you feeding it yourself and raising it? Does the other man in the Discovery special still work with you with the tigers? Thanks for the work you do saving the tigers.
The Saho Family

I was trying to check how the follow up to producing the movie Living Tigers is going and came across this site for adventure travel shall we say.

I might be interested in exactly what you are offering in the future, I wanted to know if you have a site where we can follow the results of this experiments of moving Tigers to a game park in south africa
Sridhar (USA)

Results will be on our website : www.jvbigcats.co.za

Dear John Varty 
My partner and I have just watched the repeat of 'Living with Tigers' on the Discovery channel and we are once again in awe of the project.
Having then researched the Tiger Moon Sanctuary on the internet we are a little confused - what happened to the project? Were you forced to change the plans and move Ron and Julie to a new venture -Tiger Canyon?
Does this mean that the tigers are once again in captivity or has some balance been struck?
We would love to get an update as we are unclear from the dated news reports on the internet - and further more - it is my partner Sian's 40th birthday in January 2008 and she is desperate to see tigers in their natural habitat - is there anything she can do with you?
She has been to India and Thailand and failed to see any tigers. We don't have fathers who can donate millions to the cause but would love to find out about any opportunities and any help we can offer.
We are not in the business of wildlife - but we do work with vulnerable and socially excluded people in Edinburgh, Scotland - to prepare them to be released back into society in employment and education!
I would be delighted to hear from you in the near future.
Jon Gray, Edinburgh, Scotland

Hiya John! My name is also Jon (Jonathan), & I'm 16 I live in the UK. My dream is to do what you are currently doing now & that is to protect wild Big Cats and to rewild captive ones. I think it would be an incredible experience to teach an animal as amazing and awe inspiring as the Leopard & the tiger. It is all I have been able to think about for years! & I hope to come out to South Africa to see and study the wonderful work you have done in the next couple of years. I really hope you succeed in training Seatao & Shadow, so that they could breed with Ron & Julie and produce wild white tigers! To see a white tiger in the wild is hard to imagine, but I would never say it impossible.  I think that the work you have done over the years & still doing now is incredible, you are my inspiration and proof that what I want to base my career on is possible and achievable.

I wondered how Julie & her cubs were getting on? & how they are  developing. Has there been any obvious disadvantages of inbreeding? & How is Seatao & Shadow's training coming along?

I have a webpage on re-wilding captive animals, and I hope you don't mind, but I have put your amazing story of Ron & Julie up on my web page to show all those interested in this line of work.

Well I'll shut up now, I really hope to meet you one day, but for now, good luck & keep up your amazing work with those beautiful cats.

Jonny, UK

Dear Jonny 

Thank you for your incredible email. Animals will never let you down and they will greatly enrich your life. My advice to you is follow your passion and your dream. When you finish school, Londolozi (www.londolozi.co.za) may be a good place to start as a ranger. Here you take guests into the bush on photographic safaris. After this experience, you could move to the close-contact work that I do. I suggest you work on your photographic and movie-making skills which will help you in the field of wildlife communication. I will try to help you with all of the above. 

Stay in touch and by all means, take anything off my web onto yours.

Hi, just to say how much we enjoyed the TV programme about Ron and Julie, and too, that I have found this website and learnt all about Julie's cubs.  It's fascinating reading and look forward to an update on the TV.  We particularly like that we have the same name!!

Ron and Julie Griffiths, UK

Dear JV 

It was a pleasure for my family to meet you after having spent years watching your nature programs on TV.

I have been very fortunate to have traveled around the world extensively and have stayed in some wonderful places, but Londolozi topped them all. I am going to plan our next trip out but would like to come to see you and the Tigers as well. It will be sometime next year so hopefully by then your tigers and their cubs will be happily ensconced in the Karoo.  

Once again thank you for doing what you are doing, my children can grow up knowing that there are people in the world who care for animals with a real passion. 

Kind regards
Rod, UK

Hello. I'm really interested in this project. It's fantastic idea in my opinion. I'd like to know one thing. Will be in the future similar program on TV like "Living with Tigers" but with Seatao and Shadow?
Marek from Poland.


I want to talk about saving tigers in our state chhattisgarh (India). 

Thanks & Regards
Gopendra Dhar Diwan, India

Hi, A couple of years ago i watched a brilliant programme on the Discovery channel 'Living with Tigers' since then i have been scouring the internet to see the progress of the two tigers (Ron and Julie)  to see what has happened to them since and if they had eventually been set free in to the African planes. Finally i stumbled across the 'jvbigcats' and was able at last to read the progress of the two tigers since and see that the tigers are doing really well. However I just have just a few questions.

1. On the programme the intention was to eventually be able to set Ron and Julie free into the Reservation to live life in the wild where they would become independent and where they would no longer have any form of human interaction. However from reading on the webpage this does not seem to have fully happened. I was just wondering why this is and if it is still the long term plan to release them into the wild permanently.

2.And also are there any plans of a follow up series. I have read with fascination the articles about introducing a Lion cub into Julie's little (fascinating stuff) and i would love to see this on film and also like to view events that have transpired since the last programme and any future plans for the Tigers (scheme) etc 

Keep up the good work
Joe McDermott, UK

Are these the same tigers that were on the documentary Living with Tigers? Have you any information as to how the tigers are doing I am very interested to see how they are doing.


Yes, it is the same tigers


Is there a website available where I can find more information about John Varty and his ground-breaking conservation programme with endangered Tigers. 

Best regards
Peter Lindback, Sweden

Yes, www.jvbigcats.co.za






Tread lightly on the Earth

Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved