Tigress Jameez basking in morning light in front of Tigress
Julie Lodge. Picture credit: Juta Jacobi
I have been privileged to have lived
in two of the most productive eco-systems in Africa.
For seventeen years I followed and
filmed the great migration of bearded wildebeest from
the Serengeti in Tanzania into the Masai Mara in Kenya.
For 18 years I have lived in the
Great Karoo of South Africa which once supported an
incredible 200 million springbuck.
Today the Serengeti - Masia Mara
eco-system operates as it has done for thousands of
years. The land through the grass, bushes and trees
feeds the animals and the animals through their dung and
urine, feed the land.
In short, this symbiotic relationship
is a self-perpetuating system which has produced some of
the most productive eco-systems the world has ever
Sixty two million American buffalo in
the prairies of North America, two to three hundred
million springbuck in the Savannah grassland of South
Africa, to name a few.
Springbuck at Tiger Canyons. Picture credit: Lorna Drew
Sadly, in the Karoo of South Africa,
at the turn of the previous century, man destroyed the
symbiotic relationship between the land and the
The huge number of Buffalo in North
America and the great herds of springbuck survived
because of their mobility. In short, they grazed the
grass, fertilized the soil and moved on, repeating the
process over and over again.
It is interesting that American
Buffalo (Bison), Wildebeest and Springbuck are all
designed to move long distances. However, in South
Africa and the USA, the ability to move was destroyed
with the advent of the wire fence.
Once people were given title to the
land, these great eco-systems that had been so
productive were destroyed. Humans are extremely
territorial animals. “This is my farm, this is my
boundary and these are my animals” is the mantra of
every farmer world wide. “Those who compete with me
shall be destroyed with gun, trap and poison”, is
another farmers mantra.
Therefore the Lion, Leopard, Caracal,
Jackal, Cheetah, Wild dog and Hyena in Africa, the
Mountain Lion, Wolf and Coyote in the USA are all listed
as vermin to be killed as soon as they pose a threat to
However, when one alters an
eco-system there is cause and effect. There are
Under the migratory system the
animals impacted the land in a symbiotic relationship
and moved on. In the farming regime, the indigenous
animals have been replaced by exotic animals (animals
that can be easily domesticated and which put on weight
fast.) However, the exotic animals are not designed to
move great distances.
Even if they were mobile, there are
fences in the way. Now the domestic animals have to
survive for 365 days a year on the farm. The farmer
provides water for the livestock in the form of
windmills pumping out the boreholes. Every day the
livestock move to the water, overgrazing and denuding
the land around the windmill.
Now the rain falls and there is no
grass to cushion the impact of the rain, so it cuts
through the top soil, starting a process of gulley
erosion. (Dr Ken Tinley has likened this to pulling the
bath plug out of the bath.)
The process is called
“desertification” an ugly word for an ugly process.
In the symbiotic migratory regime,
the rain that fell remained in the system, under
desertification, the rain is lost to the system, further
impoverishing the land.
However, worse news is to follow.
Scientists have linked desertification (2/3 of the
earth’s surface is affected by desertification) as one
of the major causes of climate change.
Some scientists believe that
desertification is a bigger cause of climate change than
indeed the burning of fossil fuels.
In my previous Newsletter, I talked
of the ecological blunder human beings have committed,
in destroying the diversity of plants in the
deforestation of the earth. Desertification could be an
even greater miscalculation than deforestation, because
like the forest destroyed, how do you reverse
Scientists across the world are
divided on the cure for desertification (Alan Savory has
put forward an interesting theory on TED talk on
One thing patently obvious, is that
we had no understanding of the complex workings of the
62 million American Buffalo which moved across the North
American prairies and we had no idea on how the land in
the Karoo of South Africa supported over 200 million
springbuck and other species.
What is becoming clear is that our
farming systems across the globe and hence our food
supplies are going to be ruthlessly exposed by flood,
fire, drought, disease and everything Goddess Gaia will
throw at us under the guise of climate change.
On a personal note, the Masai Mara
where I spent 17 years of my life, has now given title
deed to the Masai people who live in and around the
Masia Mara. This is a blunder of tragic proportions, for
like the fenced farms in the Karoo, they are setting
themselves up for desertification on a massive scale.
The disastrous mistakes made in the Karoo of South
Africa have not been heeded.
Tread lightly on the Earth
Thank you for all your replies to
"Response to letter from Elayna Kinley" and "Supermarket
Shopper vs. Hunter Gatherer". Once again I apologize for
not being able to answer them all personally.
Tread Lightly on the Earth
"JV's response to letter from Elayna Kinley"
I would like to thank you
again for having Darren and myself at the Tiger
Canyons and the incredible experience you gave
us. It was the most incredible thing we have
ever experienced and worth every penny.
With regards to this lady's
email, I would like to make a few comments about
Firstly she seems to be very
aggressive, almost abusive in her email, it's
like she has absolutely no idea what is really
going on at Tiger Canyons. Investing in an
animal seems like her way of getting information
out of you, using money to get it.
Updating the website is not a
bad idea, I would also love to see a family tree
of the Tigers as more are born. However, having
an updated list of each tiger and each of their
characteristics is dangerous. For example,
Panna, she is shy, sweet tigress, now you go and
advertise that on the website with how large her
territory is, kills etc, and you are basically
giving poachers a beautiful outline of her so
making her easier to track down and poach. I
would seriously err on the side of caution when
giving information about the tigers. Honestly,
I think the emails are more than enough to get
news on Tiger Canyons. Maybe your website can
have a search function, that if someone wants to
look up a certain Tiger. For example, we saw
Tibo, Sunderban and Panna with her cubs, I would
love to be able to search them on your website
to see if there is any news on each of them and
it just comes up with the newsletters where they
are mentioned. But I think more than that and a
family tree is taking a risk. Unfortunately in
this day and age, we have to think of humanity
as opportunists, and protect the animals in our
You can maybe have different
ways that people can donate money of ways to
help. I don't know if you have a volunteer
program? Or if that is even possible. Having a
little curio shop with printed T-shirts, caps,
key rings, etc, your usual paraphernalia you find
in tourist places. They fairly cheap to have
done and can be sold at a decent price to bring
more money into the Tiger Canyons. I know I
would buy a T-shirt with a photo of Panna and
her cubs without a second thought. Just some
ideas that may help financially.
Thank you for all you are
It would seem
that Elayna Kinley does not know you like I
I have followed your work
through television documentaries for many
years and I can't believe that you would do
what you do with out having done a lot of
research into the breeds of big cats and
therefore knowing all the risks of what
I hold my hands up and
can honestly say I don't know al about your
work, but I am sure that you would not do
anything that would be detrimental to the
well being of the cats in your charge.
I would like to know if
you have any plans to relocate some of your
tigers back to their home countries in India
and Asia, as I am a member of the WWF and
the Save the Tiger Campaign to help increase
the number of tigers to double the current
wild populations and I believe that you
could help by relocating the related Cubs
you have and rather make them sterile
relocate to India and Asia.
I hope my email makes
more sense to than the barrage of emails
sent to you From Elayna Kinley
I await your response and
John, I love your
I have never had the
privilege of meeting you and would do
anything to visit Tiger Canyon just once
in my life.
I support what you
and other conservationist do to save our
animal species from the hands of greedy
ignorant human beings. I do sit behind
my computer in the UK where I now live
and watch live streams from the Greater
Kruger National Park. I read many blogs
and keep up with what is going on in SA.
It’s what I can do to keep close to my
home and close to something very dear to
my heart. I have great respect for
people like you who make it their life’s
ambition to make sure that these
beautiful creatures are around for many
many years to come. I certainly want to
be able to visit the bush and admire
these amazing animals for the rest of my
life and I want my children’s children
and all the generations to come be able
to experience what I have seen in my
I would like to thank
you and all who work with you for
actually getting up and making an effort
to conserving these beautiful animals. I
know I can thank you on behalf of my
whole family as well.
"The Supermarket Shopper vs. The Hunter
John, I am afraid you are
too late. There is no going back from where
we are now. There is simply at least 4
billion people too many. You can't cull
them. Only war or natural disaster can do
that. What will that bunch in New York
called the United Nations do? Nothing of
course which is pretty much what they have
done for 70 years except soak up money.
Mother Earth is in a bad place right now and
we can only tinker around the edges and feed
and shelter people living in war zones,
famine affected countries and in areas where
exotic diseases have broken out. where does
leave our wildlife? it leaves them with a
limited life span as a earthly species.
Where does it leave us humans? In the same
place as our beautiful wildlife.
So why do you use plastic bags?? There
are boxes, you can buy bags made by the
So why do you buy this terrible meat? To
please paying guests?? What about
There is NO excuse to buy and use those
things, and every single person can
change its own habit.
It is not enough to talk about it
ST from Berlin
I am forwarding a
copy of what the local government in
Cape town is planning and about to
do……. Lets push more local
governments to do like wise. It’s a
Tread the Earth
Thanks for your
Western Cape DA
passes motion to reduce plastic bag
by James Vos MP -
Member of DA Western Cape Provincial
Executive Committee and Shadow
Minister of Tourism
Date: 09 October
At the Western
Cape DA’s Provincial Congress on
Saturday, my motion regarding the
reduction of plastic shopping bag
waste in the province was passed.
wastage has a devastating effect on
the environment, posing a danger to
humans and wildlife.
We need to deal
with environmental issues in the
same way we deal with people's
issues as you cannot disconnect the
one from the other. This motion
serves to highlight the importance
of taking care of the environment
because it is essential to human
James Vos MP
Member of DA Western Cape Provincial
Executive Committee and Shadow
Minister of Tourism 076 277 3351
DA Western Cape Communications
Manager 064 179 5684
One Nation with
One Future built on Freedom,
Fairness and Opportunity for All
your piece on the Hunter-Gatherer
versus the Supermarket Shopper and
was very impressed. I've even heard
it said that the development of
"monoculture" crops was really the
first Environmental insult visited
on our Planet and I am now inclined
On the subject of
exploitation and conservation I am
including a poem I wrote a couple of
years ago. I hope you like it!
Ian and I are still in awe after our
wondrous visit with you last
It was just an unforgettable
experience once again. Thank you for
your time and for the way you shared
your vast knowledge and love for
these majestic animals with us.
The work you do is unique in the
world and I am proud to be a South
African when I talk about you and my
beloved Tiger Canyons.
The Tigress Julie Lodge is an
The hours spent just being with and
observing the different wild tigers,
will live in our memories for the
rest of our lives.
God bless you and your crew for many
years to come.
I really hope that I would be able
to visit TC again ---- for the third