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Newsletter 110

The Hunters

Hello Friends 

Whenever a hunter posts a picture of his or herself on Facebook, all the conservationists rise up in arms, calling the hunter every name under the sun. 

Recently Melissa Bachman, who shot a male lion in a canned hunt in South Africa, was crucified by the social media. 

The Australian cricketer Glen McGrath made the same mistake by posing with an elephant he had shot in a hunting safari in Zimbabwe.

After his wife died of breast cancer, McGrath formed the McGrath Foundation which raises money for breast cancer.

Somebody on Facebook asked McGrath what the difference was between people dying of cancer and an elephant dying from a bullet from his gun? McGrath has said he now regrets the hunting safari! 

However, a study in Cornell University in the USA, has found that hunters are more likely to invest in wild land or restoration projects than any other group of people.

Clearly the desire to hunt and kill animals for trophies burns strongly in many people, especially those who live in big cities detached from nature.

Safari Club International, the biggest hunting organization in the USA, has no less than 180 chapters and over 50 000 members. 

When I tried to encourage investors to invest in an expanded Tiger Canyons, I received no interest from the conservation or photographic communities, none whatsoever! 

However I did receive interest from the hunters. If they invested in the land, could they hunt the surplus male tigers, was the first question they asked? (Tigers are an Appendix I animal listed in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species i.e. CITES) 

It would be illegal to hunt a tiger in South Africa because South Africa has signed the CITES Convention. 

However, tigers are hunted in South Africa illegally and this industry is growing rapidly. (It is legal to hunt a male lion in a canned hunt in South Africa) 

Together with lions, tigers are hunted in the canned lion and tiger industry. (This involves hunting a male lion or male tiger with a gun or a crossbow in a confined area. The hunter stands on the back of a truck and shoots the lion or tiger from close range. There is no risk to the hunter and no fair chase involved). 

With Botswana and Zambia banning the hunting of lions and leopards, I expect the canned industry to start offering lion, leopard, tiger and even cheetah. 

Canned big cat hunting, coupled with the body parts trade, is already a million rand industry. I expect it to grow exponentially to a billion rand industry in the future. 

I have lived in the Karoo of South Africa for 15 years. The Karoo once supported the greatest volume of wild animals this planet has ever experienced (the minimum figure given for springbuck is 100 million). The majority of the Karoo is under sheep and goats. It is an industry in decline, for the simple reason, it is not sustainable environmentally. 

Some of the greatest hunters lived in the Karoo, the lion, the leopard, the cheetah and the bushman. 

The South African Government doesn’t have the vision to restore the Karoo to its former glory.

The conservationists don’t have the means and the photographers don’t have the inclination. 

The Cornell study showed that the hunters are high net worth individuals, therefore they have the means and they have the inclination. 

The South African Government intends introducing a law that foreigners cannot own large tracts of land in South Africa. Therefore the scenario of overseas hunting groups restoring large areas of land in the Karoo, looks to be closing.

However the dilemma remains. If a hunting group is prepared to buy up 100 000 hectares of land in the Karoo of South Africa to extend Tiger Canyons, can I guarantee them to hunt 5 male tigers per annum for 15 years?

This is their question to which they are awaiting an answer. 

Tread Lightly on the Earth

All the Girls 

The Book "All the Girls" is soon to go to print. The book features lionesses, tigresses, leopard and cheetah females I have known over a period of 40 years. 

It also features conservationists, scientists, guides, singers, communicators and artists who have played a role in conservation. 

So if you are female and would like to be in the book, you should write to me urgently at jv@jvbigcats.co.za

"In The Jaws of the Tiger - Musical"

The musical "In The Jaws of the Tiger" produced by Bobby Johnson, is presently being released on YouTube. 

Songs include "Shingalana in my Tent", "What price must beauty pay", "Tigress Julie" and "In Cages around the World. 

Catch these on YouTube:

What Price must Beauty Pay: http://youtu.be/35e8VIlTeuI
In Cages around the World: http://youtu.be/jsgoTlJRIVc
Manana: http://youtu.be/t_S6UD21jqQ

Response to Hunters:

Hi JV 

It’s Steven Thompson from Australia. We’ve spoken before, a while ago now and via email, about how I could help create funds to donate to Tiger Canyons and other worthwhile causes. The potential to use this ‘system’ is still on offer and I’d love to talk more with you about it. 

I’d like nothing more than to see Tiger Canyons create and preserve 100,000Ha of Karoo without the need to support, in any way whatsoever, people who are, as you rightly observe, disconnected with nature. Hunters are the scourge of the earth in my opinion and these majestic animals should have no price to pay for their existence and cohabitation.  

There are many people wanting to contribute and make a positive difference in the world. Many of those have strong commitment but find themselves unable to contribute due to financial constraints. 

The ‘system’ I’ve mentioned earlier, and above, I’ve developed to empower anyone to be able to donate. 

Let me show you how it works and there’s significant potential tha we could buy that land outright in a few years. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best regards

bullshit John. WTF are you saying here

spit it out


James McCallum

Hi There. 

Having just read your recent “The Hunters”  I felt sick.  The Hunters are not interested in saving the Tigers and I would be devastated to learn that you would allow them to hunt on your property even if they were interested in expanding your property.  At WHAT cost?

When we visited Tiger Canyons with our granddaughter, New Year before last, she loved it so much she still talks of the tigers by name and she is only 6 now! 


Jean Blumeris

John Varty, 

It is a sad commentary on conservation that only a hunting federation has offered to invest in Tiger Canyons. In my opinion, if you accept the offer as it stands, you would lose more than you stand to gain. Tiger Canyons would be viewed as a place where tigers are hunted. 

The federation is asking to take more tigers than you can provide, in view of your goal to help tigers increase their numbers outside Asia. They need to be reminded that every LIVE tiger at Tiger Canyons increases the chances that tiger species will ultimately survive in the world. Extinction = no more tigers to hunt! 

Since they have money in hand, why don’t you make a counter-proposal? In exchange for their financial participation, offer them a bundle of ten exclusive visitor packages for two, the same number of packages to be given each year for ten (?) years. Once a year, the federation could sell to their members, chances at winning these packages.  Raffle completed, they could send you a list of names and contact details for the winners. 

For example, the package could be five days – and nights – at Tiger Canyons (airfare not included). Although at present you have no visitor accommodation, you could build, equip and reserve a rustic 2-bedroom suite as Tiger Lodge, solely for these special visitors. You would need to pay a housekeeper, but for a guest suite that is only occupied 50 nights a year, that’s a minimal expense. If security is a concern, you could separate Tiger Lodge (by fences and locked gates) from any possible access to the tigers. Hopefully then it would not be an insurance nightmare to offer accommodation. 

It could be an added selling point if you could guarantee each federation visitor a handsome set of three photos showing them in (safe) proximity to a tiger. After all, it would be the only trophy that the hunters would take away. "Bragging rights" are extremely important to hunters. 

Maybe you shouldn’t assume that the hunting federation will refuse a deal that excludes tiger kills. Their members might be enthusiastic about a chance to visit Tiger Canyons – especially with exclusive on-site accommodation.  

You could offer a “no-kill” counter-proposal, whatever you think is appropriate, and see what they say. If they agree, it should be excellent public relations for them (and for you, of course). In America, where I was born, hunters are widely seen as “Bambi-killers”. If the federation is willing to work with you to help tigers to survive, it should improve their image in the public eye. It might inspire other hunting interests to invest in conservation, as well. 

Best regards, 

Mrs. Yvonne Miranthis, Cyprus

Hi John, 

How about a sport, like “Hunting The Hunter” while they are on hunt ?  

I don’t mind paying a fortune to hunt down and shoot Hunters who want to shoot wild animals under controlled circumstances or otherwise….  

John,I understand where you are coming from on this issue. I personally don't agree with this industry as it is neither sport nor challenge. However you know better than most what is required to save the tiger specis and so be it.  


Agree that land is the biggest issue for long term conservation of wild life.

I reckon it would be reasonable to allow hunters one tiger a year for 10 years if they are willing to give 100,000 hectares.

Keep up the good fight.

God Bless,


We thought about this a lot. Lucie was not really in favor of it but the lack of response from conservationists and photographers suggests that they don't really care about starting as many conservation projects as possible, especially if it's not one of their own. I (Bob), on the other hand, am far more pragmatic. I believe that you will manage to build your tiger stock faster than 5 tigers a year will reduce it but I would like to see you find some other hunting approach other than from backs of trucks. I would imagine you could impose your own hunting rules. (Just for fun tell them they must be on foot and armed with only a spear -Masai style) 

We both believe funding in  sufficient quantity would give Tiger Canyons a real opportunity to add more land, better tourist facilities, an airfield  and a conscientious plan to build good tiger stock. Tiger Canyons reputation as a conservation-only project will take a "hit" unless you set the new venture up as a separate entity which shares tourist facilities but I do believe that this will result in a  new "Londolozi" years sooner than expected.  

Bottom line:  we begrudgingly agree that their offer should be seriously considered. Are you sure YOU would be willing to let 5 of your family be shot each year???  I think this plan will be toughest on you.  

Bob & Lucie Fjeldstad

Dear John, 

This is such an interesting letter. As a photographer I can tell you I tried very hard to raise some money for your tigers by selling my mother's jewelry. I could not get enough to make it worthwhile selling. It would have come to US $1000 and I did not get much interest from your end so I thought that perhaps it was a pittance given the size of your need.

Can you tell me what the plans are for the continuation of Tiger Canyons into the future? I remember your telling me that your boys would take over, but if it's possible, if you have  a written plan for possible contributors I'd love to see it. Part of the problem for contributors here relates to whether or not your have a 501c3 status in the USA. That makes you a charitable organization and easier for us to contribute.  

I have made a commitment to the Nature Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Trust, monthly and in my will. Have you considered starting a public program for everyone to see, so that we can make monthly contributions? Or can you make yourself part of the conservancy or WWF? 

I know you are a very independent person and probably do not have the patience to deal with bureaucracy.  

If you have a moment do let me know.  

All the best,


Good one JV. 

I have rescued 8600ha from goat and sheep farming, introduced wild animals many of which were extinct from the area and have started restoring the vegetation and soil so it can support wild animals so I and others can hunt them.  That includes buffalo which were obliterated from the region since the 1860’s. 

This has involved millions of Rand invested in conservation of biodiversity which I can ill afford relative to my income.   I would also be ranching rhino and lion and leopard and expanding range to accommodate them if they could be made economically sustainable.  So would many others.    

The critics of hunting, animal rightists and misguided animal welfarists contribute to the degradation of biodiversity by eating battery fed chickens, feedlot beef, chewing up water in sewage and showers, living in concrete and tar, using coal-produced electricity, indulging in anthropomorphic emotional sentiments with no shred of logic... 

It beats me.. 

You can tread heavily on the earth when you’re certain you’re contributing to the conservation of biodiversity because even the dung beetles are safe under your feet when you know where to put them.  If you tread too lightly you may be whisked away..! J


Hi John 

Hope you are well.  We support sustainable utilization and ethical hunting, so I think it's a good idea to get investment from hunters. 


Johann Kriek Jnr

I also DISLIKE cowardly " hunters" ! The only hunt one can class as a proper hunt is when you go on foot and hunt with a weapon that does not have all the extras- that is - the same conditions apply to the hunter and the hunted. Give them a fair chance to also hunt you . See who comes off second best!  

Joan Cremen 

Thank u...great newsletter...do u ever visit the U.S.?


No, don't do it...JV in the canned hunting game....say you aren't even considering it!!!?

Sounds like you are considering lining your pockets, nothing more.


Was a PH, still like to hunt, crazy for nature, can never see myself hunting any cat. Raised a rooikat one's, who is enemy number one in the karoo. The answer to your question, sometimes you need to pic the lesser evil to survive.


Don't do it john

I feel its selling your soul

It undermines the very core of conservation and glorifies the worst in people  

There is no end to these peoples bloodthirstiness  

Also , Once hunting is viewed as acceptable,  people cannot differentiate

Hunters need to be viewed with the disgust they deserve. 

This just isn't you .... 


And what have you answered????


Don’t do it Mr Varty!  Hunting is a total anachronism and hunters are wealthy scum.  Can you guarantee that their investment in Tiger Canyons would outweigh the loss of 75 tigers over 15 years? 

Hunters do not tread lightly on the earth. 

Rosie Barkley-Smith

Good Morning Tiger Canyon Staff, 

How do I feel.........The atrocities  in Africa and other places in our world of killing our animals and in some cases the animals they hunted are extinct and what they have done to the African Wild Life as to how many of on the Endangered Species list or completely gone for me, I think that the Hunters should be HUNTED for trollies and hung on the walls of peoples homes including the South Africans that believe in not killing the animals in there countries should be able to hunt the people that desecrate our world of the animals that are left!  These are my feelings due to what has happened in Africa and other places like India and other places that have destroyed the animals in there countries  


Nooooo, never let hunters take over more land and more animals! Please dont let them John!!! Its a nightmare!!

Best regards Louise Larsson

Dear John Varty, 

Every so often I read one of your newsletters that actually shocks me to the core. 

The first one was when you suggested that Corbett be put down after his attack on you.  That was a very unfortunate incident which we all regret but Corbett was only doing what comes naturally to his nature and you have specifically raised your tigers to remain as wild as possible and to live in a habitat close to their natural habitat.  

Thank goodness for tigers like Corbett. 

Now the suggestion or question about whether or not to sign the death warrant on 75 TIGERS YES I WILL REPEAT THAT – 75 TIGERS !!!! is utterly and totally incomprehensible and unjustified. So you will be able to extend your capacity in the Karoo.  But all the tigers will be gone.   

By the way I think that the picture of the female hunter with the lion is the ugliest picture I have ever seen.  Second only to Janey Allen. 

A very concerned Tiger supporter


Hi JV,

After much deliberation, my opinion is that the benefits to conservation of the tiger population far outweighs the 5 X 15 = 75 male tigers that would have to be sacrificed, therefore I would say that it would be an emphatic YES to the hunting group. I am not a hunter , but I accompany friends who are. 

Thank you for your great vision and insight , I’m always inspired by reading your articles. 

I continue to Tread Lightly on the Earth. 

Kind Regards

Bob Purshotam

How on earth would anyone allow killing such magnificent cats JV.. 


Thanks and Regards 

Anosh Koppikar 

Judy Miller-Rogers I'd rather see her bloody half eaten body under a lion.

Randall Evans What he's saying is that the rest of us need to step our game up and put our money where our mouths are. WE, those against canned hunting, should be funding the expansion of Tiger Canyons, not some fucking trophy hunters who want to purchase the right to murder these big cats.

Geraldine Schoeman Unfortunately for those who react so violently to the well thought through statements (and questions posed) by John Varty, pragmatism and crystal clear Socratic logic are inaliable links to ensuring sustainability of the species. There are clear and logical ways to extend mechanisms for conservation, including of the rhino and tiger. John Varty has actively and passionately invested himself in conservation and has done wonders. The statements he makes are absolutely correct. The alternative is that the people who stand so strongly against sustainable utilisation step forward and provide the money for making it happen. And that means you and you and you ....... 

लिंडा लिंडा And that's a dilemma for you?

Cam Steele We destroy their homelands for our needs - our farming, our mining, our factories, our homes, highways, shopping centers and theme parks. We do it for money and fun. Then those species that have existed on this planet for thousands of years, now hanging on by a thread for their existence in fragmented areas of their once vast former range, or in sanctuaries, now have the option - pay your way or?? This is after we have exploited, destroyed and taken so much. We then cater the remnants of whats left to people who will show their dollar only for death and that is to be the future? Says a lot about how far man kind has progressed/regressed - We have taken everything we can from you and you desperate few hang on. Now, for you to exist we are going to commercialize you in death to pay your way in the name of conservation... I am not a closeted city dweller, but a career farmer, an ex hunter and devout conservationist. I have seen and visited some of our worlds business driven hunting / conservation business. I have seen the production run trophy breeding operations where science is brought in to breed a superior trophy, so often disregarding other important specie traits. with little interest in conservation and a huge interest in a better trophy. I have seen the bastardization of species to create a great trophy, but an animal that is no longer a true original representation of its species and have talked one on one with SCI. I stopped hunting soon after, as I realized we in the name of ego will commercialize in death everything until there is but 1 left and then fight over the trophy value of the last one, the sole survivor. Well until the hammer falls to the highest bidder... SCI and others want to show their conservation commitment? How about instead of auctioning off an endangered animal for $50 000, $100 000, $200 000 Or $300 000+ to be a wall hanging in death, donate the money to protecting it and sending it onto further wild breeding and restocking programs. Now that would show conservation commitment and would impress the hell out of me.... ps: I always find if funny how we talk of animals that existed in the hundreds of thousands in number and more a generation or two ago and did so for tens of thousands of years. Now number 4-5000 0r 10-20000 and we have a surplus and need to hunt the surplus??? That one just never gels for me!

लिंडा लिंडा Canned hunting is disgusting and only for cowards with big egos and no love of animal life. I'm sorry - I thought you were a protector of these beautiful animals. I was mistaken.

Emma Wypkema Isn't it strange that the high net-worth individuals are so keen on hunting... One would think that they were better educated...

Ellie Smith The life of an animal is not a humans to give or take. This is why the planet is going to shit.

Christopher Le Port You are joking right, it is a complete conflict of conservation interest, lets sustain them to kill them - Are you mental? This world and its means of sustaining itself so you and I can survive is not up for question? You and I are up for question. Daily! And not just for conservation. Canned hunting for conservation is a contradiction. We shouldn't be messing or changing or questioning Mother Earth... Why would any sane person wish to kill an animal for a trophy, what possible reward is there? Those people who participate are not masters of all they survey, to do what ever they think or want so destructively and then have the audacity to even mention it's productive! The trophy hunter took a picture and that picture should be publicly displayed to show how wrong and sick that individual is until all those who hunt (within in this confine) are stopped. Hunting for necessity is an all together different thing. This sick woman posing with her gun, didn't take the skin to keep her warm or eat the flesh to stay alive or use its bones to make tools! She cowardly took a gun and shot it in the head from close range of the back of a car. In that case, I would deem you as the wild animal threatening my survival and shot you! Because retards like this are messing with mother nature, and she'll bite us all in the arse accordingly without remorse or fair selection, like you so stupidly argue in your rediculous comments...

Dilip Kongot Bloody zuma is a shame for all mankind,imagine these are the goons succeeding legendary madiba

Noella Aubé frown emoticon

Lynne Short this woman is a f***ing bitch for what she did to this gorgeous animal, and i hope and pray that she dies the same way that she killed this lion with a bullet to her head!!!!

Lynne Hill Is this where the franking was supposed to take place?

Melanie Milliner I'm very surprised JV would even consider it, very.

Hilde Vanhove Stuped bitch:burn in hell !!!

Mohieranjan Patel If adequate finance facing the conservation of Tigers is funding, could you not treat canned hunting a bit like natural selection where only the weakest animals are offered to the trophy hunters? 

Susanne Diaz Makes me sick!

Maria K. Fotopoulos John - Thanks for sharing "the reality on the ground." I think there are many of us who understand that more habitat, dollars (rand) and active caretaking/protection are what's needed to save biodiversity and fend off the avarice of Homo sapiens. Unfortunately, perhaps those many of us don't have the $s to make the difference. 

The "choice" between aligning with high net worth hunters and continuing to fight for conservation dollars which don't seem to be forthcoming definitely puts you between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." That said, I'd hope you'd stay the course on trying to bring in more conservation dollars to purchase the land needed and that everyone who reads this post spreads the word and encourages friends, family and colleagues to support this effort.

Cocks John how does she manage to hit such a small target with just telescopic sights on high powered gun

Louise Larsson Nooo dont let the hunters take over the land and wild animals !!!

Leslea Bullis 50,000 members is a lot of dead animals if they all want to hunt ? Well your damned if you do and damned if you don't John.

Marie Procházková human freaks



Tread lightly on the Earth

Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved


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