An Open Letter to Carte Blanche
I would like to congratulate you on your
various programmers on the drought and especially the human
spirit of the farmers trying to survive the drought, they are
I am running an endangered species project
involving saving the tiger in the district of Philippolis, so I
am surrounded by sheep farmers. The drought has been severe in
the Philippolis area and several farmers are facing bankruptcy.
However there is a potential story which you
If you go back to the 1820 Settlers trekking
inland in their wagons, these pioneers would have encountered a
landscape littered with millions and millions of wild animals.
Indeed the springbuck alone in the great
Karoo numbered between 100 million and 300 million animals. This
is the greatest volume of wild animals in the history of the
planet. (only the American Buffalo which numbered 62 million
animals rivaled the springbuck numbers)
Into this garden of Eden came the farmer with
his sheep, goats, cows and horses. Because the wild animals
competed with his domestic stock for grass, he shot them.
The greatest overkill in the history of the
world occurred in the veld of South Africa. Cornwallis Harris
describes the kill: “I fired from my horse killing many. Many
more were wounded. Eventually the barrel of my gun was so hot
that it jammed and my horse collapsed from exhaustion.”
Once the farmers had destroyed the wildlife
they set about owning the land.
In short they fenced off their farms,
destroying the very thing that had made the ecosystem great in
the first place, the mobility of the animals. Today the wire
fences in the Karoo could wrap around the earth several times.
Droughts are nothing new, they are nature’s
way of culling the weak the sick and the old from the great
However in droughts, the wild animals simply
moved away from the drought areas to the areas where it had
rained. To areas where there was grass.
The farmer goes contrary to nature. He does
not allow his domestic stock to move. He maintains them on his
farm for 12 months of the year. Because his domestic stock have
to drink daily, he drills boreholes and constructs windmills to
pump the water out. Everyday the domestic stock trample in to
the water point, destroying the grass cover, exposing the land
to trench erosion. Now what water falls, is lost down the gulley
and is lost to the system. The whole process is called
deserfication, an ugly word for an ugly process.
The drought moves in. The isolated
thunderstorms miss the farm. The farmer is overstocked, the
grazing is finished, the market prices are down (because all
farmers are in the same boat.) He tries to sell off stock but
there is no market. The farmer prays for rain but no rain
Effectively the farmer is trapped in a
situation where there is no way out. Bankruptcy stares him in
In short his father or his grandfather have
disobeyed the laws of nature and now he is paying the price.
If a Martian were to land on the farmers
farm, he would wonder at the wisdom of destroying 300 million
wild animals perfectly adapted to African conditions and
replacing them with 9 million exotic animals, not adapted to the
conditions and parasites of Africa. The Martian would wonder how
ignorant to take away from the animals the very thing that made
them successful, their mobility.
What the Martian does not understand is the
mentality of the farmer. The farmer hates anything he cannot
control. Therefore herds of migrating springbuck are a no,
no! The farmer wants animals that he can contain, manipulate,
subjugate and control. Nothing and nobody can compete with the
farmer. Therefore jackals, caracals, baboons and even bushmen
are destroyed on sight. Lions, leopards, cheetah and hyenas were
killed a long time ago!
The farmer is God over all his farm, or is
he? There are a few things of which he does not have control,
namely fire, flood, rain, disease, locusts and drought to name a
few. It is these natural forces which will expose the farmer
Most South African children think that the
indigenous animals in the great Karoo are sheep, goats, horses
and cows. A good Carte Blanche program could enlighten them.
Indeed it could enlighten us all.
Tread lightly on the earth
Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar Acceptance Speech
"And lastly, I just want
to say this: Making The Revenant was about man's relationship to the
natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the
hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to
the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.
Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most
urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work
collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support
leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but
who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the
world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out
there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s
children, and for those people out there whose voices have been
drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this
amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do
not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much."
Tigress Julie Lodge
The lodge in the canyon is nearing completion.
Two luxury rooms with bathroom en- suite combine with a spacious
lounge over the spectacular Tiger Canyon.
A private creative room with state of the art
downloading facilities for photographers is adjacent to the
In front of the lodge, a small waterfall and
swimming pool for tigers, has been created.
I was determined to make the lodge
environmentally friendly, not dependant on burning fossil fuels. To
achieve this, it took the cost over the budget by R1 million.
However, in 7 years time, the saving from not burning fossil fuels,
breaks even with the initial cost of the solar energy.
I would like to thank Margaret Pang who is the
main financier of the lodge for her incredible generosity and
support at all times. In addition, Jos and Yvette van Bommel, Emma
Wypkema, Rodney and Lorna Drew for giving me excellent advice. To
the builders Ian Stark, Jan Kruizenga and Bennie, my sincere thanks.
My thanks to Sheldon Nyce for costing the solar component. My thanks
to Daryl and Sharna Balfour for producing the book "Simply Safari".
This became my bible during construction of the lodge.
Environmentally Friendly Game Vehicles
Some 5 years ago, I set myself a target of
converting the entire Tiger Canyons fleet to electrical motor
vehicles. In this project, I have failed dismally!
There is not a single motor car manufacturer in
South Africa that produces an environmentally friendly motor car.
Only Toyota produces a hybrid and they are few and far between.
If we the consumer doesn't demand environmentally
friendly cars, there is no incentive for the car manufacturer to
make them. I urge everyone to move their houses, cars and lifestyles
to a lighter footprint on the planet.
The South Africa Government is to be
congratulated for creating the first solar powered airport in the
world outside the city of George. We the public should embrace this
achievement and push for legislation in the direction of electrical
If we save the tiger from extinction, but at the
same time we are burning fossil fuels, are we really achieving
anything at all?
The planet experienced the hottest year in
recorded history. The drought around Tiger Canyons was crippling.
Climate change is here to stay.
"If you are not part of the solution, you are
part of the problem"
Invitation to Leonardo DiCaprio
Congratulations on winning your recent Oscar
and especially your acceptance speech.
Your presentation to the United Nations was
powerful and accurate. I hope that some ears in the room heard
The various organization that your Foundation
has donated to, are worthy causes. I thank you on their behalf
and the wild animals they represent.
For sixteen years I have founded and run an
ex-situ conservation project in South Africa to save the
endangered tiger. The project is run on Tiger Canyons (www.jvbigcats.co.za)
and presently supports the only wild population of tigers
outside Asia. The area converted from sheep farms to wild life
is 65,000 hectares.
Two films “Living with Tigers” and “Tiger Man
of Africa” have run for many years on Discovery Channel and
National Geographic Wild respectively.
For the first time in sixteen years, some
money has gone into building a 4 bed lodge on a dramatic canyon.
The lodge is called “The Tigress Julie Lodge” after my founding
On the 28th of May 2016 we will open the
lodge in a moving ceremony and a tribute to wild tigers. I would
be most honored if you could attend the opening of the lodge.
Tread Lightly on The Earth
Founder and co-owner Londolozi Game Reserve- South Africa
Founder: Londolozi Productions (made 42 wildlife documentaries)
Founder: Tiger Canyons South Africa –2000
Founder: JV Images -2010