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Newsletter 150
13/09/17

The Survivor

“I have learnt
So much from you
Courage, loyalty and truth.
The clever way
You catch your prey.
Where you hide
Your cubs away.
And I always think of you
I always think of you” 

“From the song Respect written for the Mother Leopard.
1985 

Hello friends,

I remember like it was yesterday. I had rigged surveillance cameras in Shadow’s den and together with my two boys Sean and Tao we waited for Shadow to give birth. 

Through the den, I had made some strategic holes so I could stay outside the den, but filmed the action on the inside. 

The first birth I missed, because Shadow was lying facing away from me. The second cub was Corbett who immediately waddled out of the den. 

The third cub born was Panna and Shadow gave birth standing up. Immediately after Panna was born, Shadow sat down on top of the cub. As I am filming I shout into the camera “you are crushing the cub, you are crushing the cub!” That tiny cub was Panna. 

At the time, I thought of moving forwards and taking the cub out from underneath Shadow’s body. Then I had second thoughts as Shadow may think I was stealing her cub and attack me (Shadow is an extremely unpredictable Tigress.) 

Fortunately, the embryonic sack was extremely slippery and Panna shot out from under Shadow like a piece of soap. 

Later when looking at the footage, I noticed that Panna’s tiny claws were extended and it these claws that cut the embryonic sack wide open. In short, Nature had taken care of everything. 

Later Sunette Fourie put the birth on YouTube and today over 8 million people have seen Panna’s birth. 

For several months, I couldn’t find Shadow and the three cubs (One cub died after Shadow sat on it). Only after six months did we start to see and photograph the three cubs. 

It became apparent that the two cubs, Panna and Sariska were exceedingly shy and one cub Corbett was bold and aggressive. 

Between 20 and 30 months, all three cubs dispersed from Shadow. Corbett and Sariska both captured territories, but Panna was unable to do so. 

Firstly, Panna was a small tigress, but she also lacked the aggression needed to fight for a territory. Shadow, Panna’s mother attacked her, as did a female called Indira who was bigger and stronger than Panna. 

The ragged ears that Panna has today, came from those fights. (As a cub, Panna’s ears were floppy, they took about 12 months to stiffen. Her original name was “floppy ears”)  

Several times I called a Vet to stitch Panna up after she had come off second best in a fight. 

In the floods of 2011, four hundred meters of the fence was destroyed. Corbett immediately swam out of the park into the neighbouring farm land. Panna remained inside Tiger Canyons even though the fence was gone. 

Normally Panna would run away when a vehicle approached, but on this occasion, Panna came towards us and allowed herself to be darted (Twelve tigers and a lion were darted and put in Bomas the day of the floods.) 

When we extended the tiger home range at Tiger Canyons, I immediately darted Panna and moved her into the new area. Panna moved into the north-west corner of Tiger Canyons and set up her own territory. 

She was the first Tiger to reach self-sustainability (I have recorded over 12 red Hartebeest kills, 4 waterbucks, one blue wildebeest, several impala and many warthog kills.) 

Previously when under pressure, Panna had not come into estrus regularly. Now with her own territory she was cycling regularly. 

After mating with Khumba at the age of eight, Panna has produced 3 cubs. One of the cubs is a crossover gene, giving it a multi coloured effect (See explanation below.) 

Previously Panna was not regarded as an ambassador tigress. (An ambassador tiger is one that is wild but fully habituated and allows itself to be viewed and photographed.) 

With the advent of the cubs, Panna has become the main attraction at Tiger Canyons and she has responded magnificently. 

Over the last 3 months I have developed a communication system with Panna which is extraordinary.  

Shadow’s favourite den site is a rocky outcrop on top of a hill. This den site is totally out of sight of cameras and lenses. 

I stand at the bottom of the hill and I give two different calls. The first call is a roar and this means that I want to help Panna with a dead warthog. The dead warthog is placed in a warthog burrow and Panna comes to the burrow and removes the warthog and takes it back to the cubs who are waiting in the den and out of sight on top of the hill. 

The second call I give is “Staccato Chuffing.” This call is requesting her to bring the cubs so we can view and photograph them. For doing this, there is no reward of food. 

Eight times I have requested this favour from Panna and five times she has brought the cubs for viewing. The viewing time is normally short, 10 to 15 minutes and then she returns to the den and out of sight. 

This is not the first time I have established this mutually rewarding relationship. The original mother leopard at Londolozi did it often, Manana did it once or twice, Tigress Julie did it regularly. 

People have asked me to interpret the symbolic behaviour and I believe that Tigress Panna has an instinctive idea that her safety and wellbeing and those of her cubs are tied to human beings. Tigress Panna has made a conscious or unconscious decision to share her cubs with us. 

In a very simple form, “you give me food, I give you photographs".  

For me the Tigress Panna relationship is especially rewarding. Panna is not a Tigress I know well. I have perhaps spent less time with her than any other Tigress. I have been inspired by the Mother Leopard, Shingalana, Manana, Tigress Julie, Tigress Tibo and others. 

However, the relationship with Panna is extremely special. The arrival of her cubs has changed everything. A symbiotic relationship has blossomed. 

The shy Tigress is gone and in her place a confident caring sharing mother, totally relaxed in our company has emerged. Panna nearly perished at birth. She was brutally attacked by Indira and Shadow. She remained without cubs for eight long years. 

Tigress Panna has outlived her two brothers, Sariska and Corbett. She has turned her life around and what a pleasure and privilege it has been to be part of the journey.

Tread lightly on the Earth
JV


Tigress Panna’s cubs:

Panna’s litter of cubs have revealed that in fact Tiger Canyons now has 4 different types of Tigers. The first type is a normal tiger which possesses two normal genes. 

The second Tiger is a White Tiger which possesses the gene SLc45a2.This gene is valuable and has been around in the wild since the 13th century. This gene should be conserved at all costs. Tigress Tibo possesses 2 white gene or 2 by SLc45a2 genes. 

The third type of tiger is a carrier tiger which possess one white gene and one normal gene (Tibo’s parents Julie and Seatao were both white gene carriers) 

With the arrival of Panna’s cubs, a third type of tiger has arrived at Tiger Canyons. It is called a crossover tiger. This too is a natural phenomenon and should be conserved at all costs. 

A crossover tiger emerges when the white gene and the normal gene have fused together i.e. 30% of the white gene merges with 70% of the of the normal gene or vice versa. 

Therefore, one of Panna’s cubs has white hindquarter and a normal body. Perhaps 40% of the body is white and 60% is normal. 

Evolution works in strange ways. Sometimes it takes millions of years to evolve and sometimes in leaps and bounds. 

Could it be that we are witnessing evolution at work at Tiger Canyons right now?  

The habitat at Tiger Canyons for most of the year is brown, grey and yellow. The crossover cub blends into its surroundings better than the dark cubs who are more successful in a green forest of dappled light. 

The lion that blends so perfectly with the brown grass of the Savannahs was once a spotted cat. Could it be that a series of crossover genes changed it into a tawny cat to suit its background?   

I think the answer is yes! 

Once again, the shy retiring forgotten Tigress Panna, has brought to the fore some crucial knowledge in the understanding of the evolution of the Tiger. 

I would like to thank Doug Fitzgerald for his in depth research and enlightening me on the genetic evolution of the Tiger. Doug’s research will prove valuable in managing the tiger going forward. 

The golden tabby and the black tiger possess flatfan genes. These are induced mutation genes which have come about as a result of inbreeding. These have no conservation value and should be avoided.  

Therefore, Tiger Canyons policy will be to protect and conserve the normal gene tiger, the white gene tiger and the crossover tigers. 

Many people have asked me why I don’t afford Tibo special protection. They point out that Tibo could be killed in a fight tomorrow. This is true, however at Tiger Canyons we are striving for a wild self-sustaining population of tigers. Therefore, if you are white, normal or crossover you will be afforded no special privileges. Each tiger must survive in the harsh world of tiger existence. Darwin’s law of natural selection and the strongest will survive, is very much applicable to the Tiger Canyon's Experiment.

Tread lightly on the Earth
JV 


Response to "In Pursuit of Alan Root:

Hello to everyone at Tiger Canyons, I want to take this opportunity to say that I was very sad to hear that Joan Root was I believe murdered at her Kenyan home and that Alan Root died last month.

However it makes me feel very angry to know that well meaning people who did so much to research conserve protect and film and bring their film work into our living room through the spectacular wildlife documentaries, have been murdered at their homes.

I refer to people like George, Joy and Terry Adamson, Diane Fossey, and now the late Joan Root. I had and still have the greatest respect to those people, they didn't deserve to die at the hands of poachers or staff members.

Please please if it is at all possible, can you convey my deepest sympathy to the family of Joan and Alan Root and also the field management team who have carried on with the research and protection of the gorillas from Diane Fossey.

Thank you so much it will mean a lot to me if you can.

May God Bless and Protect all who strive to save the worlds wildlife.

Sincerely
Brian Whitney-Marshall

Good luck to everyone at Tiger Canyons. Please convey my very best wishes to JV and two families both human and the big cats.


 

Tread lightly on the Earth

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


Newsletters


Newsletter 153
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Supermarket Shopper vs. Hunter Gatherer

Newsletter 152
14/10/17
JV's response to Elayna Kinley letter

Newsletters 151
29/09/17
Running on empty

Newsletter 150
14/09/17
The Survivor

Newsletters 149
05/09/17
In pursuit of Alan Root

Newsletters 148
09/08/17
Open letter re schools plus Panna cubs

Newsletters 147
17/07/17
It's Finished

Newsletters 146
31/05/17
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Newsletters 142
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Newsletters 141
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Newsletter 140
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Newsletter 135
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Newsletter 134
08/08/16
A Defining Moment

Newsletter 133
08/07/16
I Have Lost A Friend

Newsletter 132
13/05/16
The World is Changing

Newsletter 131
08/04/16
Icon Cats

Newsletter 130
31/03/16
Sylvester the Lion

Newsletter 129
22/03/16
An Open Letter to Head United Nations

Newsletter 128
15/03/16
An Open Letter to Carte Blanche

Newsletter 127
28/11/15
Satellite Tracking

Newsletter 126
12/11/15
Lightning strikes 3 times

Newsletter 125
28/10/15
The Break Out

Newsletter 124
05/10/15
Bad Tigers

Newsletter 123
01/10/15
Tiger Boy's Journey

Newsletter 122
13/09/15
Give it a Name

Newsletter 121
10/09/15
Driven Hunts

Newsletter 120
01/09/15
Creative Conservation

Newsletter 119
12/08/15
Sariska from birth till death

Newsletter 118
11/08/15
Real Hunters

Newsletter 117
07/08/15
An Open Letter to the President: Operation Wild Lion

Newsletter 116
03/08/15
An Open Letter to Theo Bronkhorst

Newsletter 115
28/07/15
Cruel Nations

Newsletter 114
08/07/15
Subspecies or no subspecies

Newsletter 113
11/06/15
Tigers Moving Forward

Newsletter 112
13/04/15
Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Newsletter 111
26/03/15
Don't Shoot the Messenger

Newsletter 110
22/03/15
The Hunters

Newsletter 109
09/03/15
Gaia or God?

Newsletter 108
26/02/15
The Healing Power of Cats

Newsletter 107
18/02/15
Goddess Gaia

Newsletter 106
03/02/15
Ambassador Cats

Newsletter 105
24/01/15
Blondes have more fun

Invitation
09/01/15
Gaining ground for tigers

Newsletter 103
14/12/14
Tibo's Dilemma

Newsletter 102
05/12/14
Wilderness Man

Newsletter 101
25/11/14
Sariska fathers cubs with white Tigress Tibo

Newsletter 100
20/11/14
Cheetah Survival

Newsletter 99
30/09/14
Extract from JV's speech on Corbett's Freedom Day

Newsletter 98
15/08/14
The Power of the Picture

Newsletter 97
18/07/14
Tiger Corbett's Release

Newsletter 96
11/07/14
Corbett's Journey

Newsletter 95
18/06/14
Bush School: Where are they now?

Newsletter 94
12/05/14
Open letter to Jani Allen: Oscar Pistorius

Newsletter 93
07/05/14
John Varty interview with Sizie Modise

Newsletter 92
20/04/14
Marion's Big Cat Safari

Newsletter 91
24/02/14
Full energy flow

Newsletter 90
10/02/14
Investing in wild tigers

Newsletter 89
05/02/14
Where are the Champions?

Newsletter 88
27/01/14
Managing the Genes

Newsletter 87
16/01/14
Capture the Moment

Newsletter 86
07/12/13
The Princess Diana of Tigers - Julie:
 Sept 1999 - 5 Des 2013

Newsletter 85
26/11/13
The Communicators

Newsletter 84
26/11/13
A Letter to All Conservationists in SA 
Sparked by the whole Melissa Bachman Debacle
by Maxine Gaines

Newsletter 83
16/11/13
Tell me what happened

Newsletter 82
04/11/13
Profit is the Name of Your Game

Newsletter 81
30/10/13

Big Cat Cub Safari


Newsletter 80
18/10/13
In the Jaws of the Tiger

Newsletter 79
11/10/13
Open letter to Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 78
06/10/13
Open letter to Min of Defense, South Africa about rhino crisis

Newsletter 77
30/09/13
Digital Photography

Newsletter 76
06/09/13
Zoochosis

Newsletter 75
20/07/13
Rhino Horn Trade - Response

Newsletter 74
09/07/13
Raw Power

Newsletter 73
02/07/13
The Evolution of the Tracker

Newsletter 72
02/07/13
An Open Letter to the Honourable Edna Molewa, Minister of Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs

Newsletter 71
06/06/13
Using flash or spotlight on cats at night

Newsletter 70
14/05/13
Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the best eyesight of them all?

Newsletter 69
12/04/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all?

Newsletter 68
25/03/13
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best fighter of them all?

Newsletters 67
07/03/13
Wild Cheetah return to the Free State after 100 years

Newsletter 66
28/02/13
Seeking the genes

Newsletters 65
06/02/13
Corbett's Journey

Newsletters 64
22/01/13
In Search of a Mate

Newsletters 63
11/01/13
Rumble in the Jungle

Newsletters 62
30/10/12
Voronin Big Cat Safari Breaks All Records

Newsletters 61
09/12/12
A Journey to Nowhere

Newsletter 60
03/10/12
The John Hume Approach

Newsletter 59
28/09/12
Response to Rhino Horn Auction

Newsletters 58
24/09/12
A Letter to John Hume, SA biggest Rhino Breeder

Newsletters 57
05/09/12
Newsletters 56
01/08/12
Indian Government -
the wrong decision

Newsletter 55
11/07/12
What price must beauty pay?

Newsletter 54
21/04/12
Corbett's Freedom

Newsletter 53
15/04/12
Lethal injection or Freedom

Newsletters 52
04/04/12
The anatomy of an aggressive tiger

Newsletters 51
14/02/12
Majestic, breathtaking pictures

Newsletters 50
04/11/11
Tigress Calendar

Newsletters 49
19/11/11

Let your pictures do the talking

Newsletters 48
26/09/11

Rhino Wars

Newsletters 47
06/09/11
A Letter to the President

Newsletters 46
08/08/11
The Body Parts Scam

Newsletters 45
11/07/11
Tiger Subspecies

Newsletters 43
01/05/11
Your future and the Tiger

Newsletter 42
08/05/11
Talk to Me

Newsletter 41
26/01/11
Gaian Reminder

Newsletter 40
18/11/10
Ron's Journey

Newsletter 39
20/10/10
"Descreprimate"

Newsletter 38
06/09/10
Beauty comes at a price

Newsletter 37
18/08/10

The Light Has Gone Out


Newsletter 36
08/07/10
The Beautiful Game

Newsletter 35
05/07/10
The Ethics of
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Newsletter 34
21/06/10
Tiger Hunt

Newsletter 33
26/05/10
The Year of the Tiger

Newsletter 32
11/02/10

Riding the Tiger


Newsletter 31
24/01/10

Runti's Journey


Newsletter 30
12/01/10

To intervene or not to intervene -
that is the question...

Newsletter 29
07/12/09

Lion - Tiger - Human Communication


Newsletter 28
12/11/09

Emotional humans, emotional cats


Newsletter 27
03/11/09

Julie gives birth to 5 tiger cubs


Newsletter 26
24/09/09

International Tiger Day


Newsletter 25
17/08/09

To all Photographers


Newsletter 24
16/07/09

A Shot in Anger


Newsletter 22
24/04/09


Newsletter 21
24/03/09


Newsletter 19
14/01/09

Tiger Birth
at Tiger Canyons


Newsletter 16
10/10/08

Tiger Courting


Newsletter 11
29/01/08

Privatizing the Tiger


Newsletter 9
27/10/07

Newsletter 8
28/09/07

Newsletter 7
14/09/07

Water Cats


Newsletter 6
14/08/07

Tiger Intelligence


Newsletter 5
16/05/07

Tiger language
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Newsletter 3
09/03/07

Interspecies communication


Newsletter 2
06/02/07

Cub relocation


Londolozi
Newsletters

Death of a Legend
17/08/09


Newsletter 20
10/02/09

Newsletter 15
17/08/08

Painted Wolves


Newsletter 13
11/04/08

Response to Elephant Trust
by Daryl Balfour


Newsletter 12
09/04/08

Elephant Trust