The documentary has been described
as a fraud. The tigers were apparently unable to hunt, and the
film crew chased the prey up against the fence and into the path
of the tigers for the sake of dramatic footage. Cory Meacham, a
US-based environmental journalist mentioned that "the film has
about as much to do with tiger conservation as a Disney
cartoon." In addition, the tigers have not been released as the
film suggests — and indeed still reside in a small enclosure
under constant watch and with frequent human contact. The
Discovery documentary contains footage that its maker, John
Varty, has admitted on affidavit to be false.
There are claims that Tiger Canyons' Tigers
have no conservation value, and experts question Varty's
intention of building Tiger Canyons as a ecotourism industry in
South Africa. Most experts concluded that it is just a
money-minded venture which allows money to be earned through the
deception that the tigers there are purebred, but in fact they
have no conservation value as they are of mixed ancestry.
Conservationists fear that the public will be misled in this
on Wikipedia is being maliciously changed and altered to cast doubt on
the integrity of John Varty and the Tiger Canyons project.
When Tiger Canyons began in 2000, there were reputed
to be 5000 tigers in the wild. Today, in 2011, this number is closer to
1000 wild tigers. At the same time, in captivity around the world, 45
000 tigers reside in zoos, circuses and private collections. These tigers will
never be wild tigers.
John Varty, the founder of Tiger Canyons, has
repeatedly called for the privatization of tigers, because the
governments of the tiger countries have failed so dismally to protect
He has urged the South African National Parks to set
up a full scale National Park in South Africa to save the endangered tiger.
Zaria playing in water
Julie stalking wildebeest
In South Africa, Varty was the architect of a 36 000
hectare tiger sanctuary called Tiger Moon, which straddles the Gariep
River and lies in the Northern Cape and in the Free
State provinces of South Africa. This park has been in a 9 year
arbitration. Millions of rands that could have gone into tiger
conservation, has gone into legal fees.
Ron and Seatao fighting for territory
Seatao in morning mist
Varty designed a second park of 15 000 Ha, called the
Freedom Park in the province of the Free State. This park, thankfully has thrived and has rare species like roan,
sable, disease free buffalo and rhino on it, although no tigers. The Freedom Park today earns 10x more than a sheep
farm and is quickly returning to its prime energy flow under wildlife.
Sunderban on rock
In the province of the Eastern Cape, another area of prime tiger habitat has been targeted.
Permission is being sought from the authorities to launch this park.
In Mpumalanga province of South Africa, an area has
been surveyed for yet another tiger sanctuary.
Like McDonalds the fast food company, Varty's
vision is clearly franchising the wild tiger concept, using Tiger
Canyons as the base experiment.
The name of Varty's game is capturing land for wild
tigers wherever he can and at the same time, bring like-minded private
individuals into the tiger conservation business.
In the thousands of emails and messages on Facebook
that Varty gets from all over the world, the most common thread that
runs through them is the word "envy". People envy his lifestyle. The
ability to interact with tigers on a daily basis. A simple uncluttered
lifestyle of freedom observing and filming wild tigers.
Tiger on rocks at canyon
Zaria and Sunderban at river
His brother Dave wrote in the foreword of the book
Nine Lives, "One hundred years from now it is entirely possible that
relationships with wild animals will no longer be strange and bonds of
kinship will be re-established between many of the earth's
species........ JV's relationships with the world of nature have become
increasingly stronger and profoundly deeper, to the point that he has
effectively abandoned the world we know - with its politics, greed,
conflict and crime. To me, JV is a messenger sent to us from the future.
He implores us to change our ways as he illuminates a future course of
action through these dark days of destruction of the natural world. He
has used cinematography to shine a light on the magical intelligence and
regenerative powers of nature, inspiring the imaginations of young
minds, many of whom have aspired to being young John Varty's. Years
later it is those selfsame kids who have chosen to dedicate their
careers to the restoration of our Eden."
As the malicious misinformation flows into Wikipedia,
some of the envious take their jealousy to the extreme.
Tourists looking at tiger
Tourists in canyon
Cory Meacham, a US based environmental journalist
mentioned on Wikipedia that "Living with Tigers" has about as much to do
with tiger conservation as a Disney cartoon". In addition the tigers
have not been released as the film suggests.
Varty points out that he has never met Cory Meacham, nor has
Meacham ever been to Tiger Canyons. Varty is not aware that
Meacham has ever done anything to save the tiger.
The fact that Tigress Julie has caught 80 wildebeest
over the space of 30 months, as well as springbuck, blesbuck, warthog,
mountain reedbuck and other species including barbel, clawless otter and
water mongoose, is not mentioned by the ignorant Meacham.
Meacham and others know that the tigers reside in small enclosures. The area where Julie
hunts and raises cubs, is 300 Ha, hardly small. The new hunting area
recently completed and stocked, has 4km of the rugged Tiger Canyons
river, 4 more wild tigers will shortly be introduced into this area.
"The Discovery documentary contains footage that its
maker John Varty admitted on affidavit to be false"
The Discovery documentary scored very high ratings
and continues to inspire and educate people around the world. The court
case concerning the Discovery Documentary, Varty won handsomely. The statement
on Wikipedia is
The fact that Varty is now making the first ever 3D
film on tigers with Discovery, attest to their confidence in the fact
that they believe that Tiger Canyons has the best chance of saving
the wild tiger.
National Geographic's "Tiger Man" series has followed
"Living with Tigers" and judging by the rating and public's
response, this series will have a huge impact on tiger conservation
Meacham and company display their ignorance when they say
experts concluded that it is just a money-minded venture which allows
money to be earned through the deception that the tigers there are
The first thing that they don't understand, is that
to save endangered species like the tiger, you need money, lots of
money. When you have money, you need vision, after the vision, you need
special skills, lots of tenacity and then you need to be able to execute.
A lawyer, a banker, a fashion designer or an
environmental journalist have neither the knowledge, the skill or the
vision to succeed in a project of this nature.
If Meacham and the Wikipedia editor (China's Tiger) read Nine Lives,
they might understand that Varty has been trained for what he does.
There are few people that have the skills to undertake what Varty is
Do they think when the photographers come to Tiger
Canyons and see a 500 pound male tiger stalking through the river, the
guests are interested in what sub species of a tiger it is?
The 500 lb tiger is magnificent in the morning light,
water dripping from his coat, muscles rippling, eyes focused on the
prey, legs hunched ready for the charge. Photographers have been mesmerized by
this scene and have the photo's to prove it.
Six modern Canon and Nikon digital cameras capture the moment
at high speed. The atmosphere in the jeep is electric. The images travel
over the internet, into books, magazines and image libraries. In short -
the images educate and inspire people worldwide. The finest pictures of
wild tigers ever taken, have been at Tiger Canyons and the standard of
pictures being entered into the recent photo competition, are better
than world class.
This is how you save the tiger. Varty did it with
leopard at Londolozi and now he's doing it with tigers.
Just for Meacham and the other misinformed individuals, DNA
has proved that all tigers are the same, Panthera tigris tigris - The
Asian Tiger. The only subspecies is Panthera tigris sumatrae - The
Sumatran Tiger and this will soon be lost to the world at the rate they
are logging the island of Sumatra.
Tiger - The Ultimate Guide by
CDS Books, 2004, p 17 - 21
extracts on our website:
So Varty doesn't concern himself with Meachams and
Wikipedia editor "China's Tiger's" mental
masturbation. He asks the question, is the tiger strong, is it fast, can it hunt,
is it well bred, will it have high reproduction?
The litters born at Tiger Canyons are 3, 4 and 5,
so Varty is satisfied his breeding is good.
People from 42 nationalities have visited Tiger
canyons, some have been more that 6 times. They don't come to photograph
tigers in cages!
Picture: Susanne Baden from Germany
To all the tiger supporters worldwide who have
supported John Varty through successes and failures, through floods and
natural disasters, disregard the saboteurs who change and manipulate the
information on Wikipedia. They are nothing, they know nothing, they live
in the dark world of envy and jealousy.
I HAVE been to Tiger Canyons, I have met JV, his
team and the tigers.
I have been to Pench, Kanha and Ranthambore in
India as well as zoos and private collections in many countries.
JVs commitment is unquestionable the reserve he
is establishing is massive and provides shelter and security for
these animals to live “wild”
The only difference between this and the Indian
tiger parks is that it is on another continent and has an effective
security fence keeping people and poachers out. To the tiger, prey
does not carry a passport and the geography/geology suits the
predator well. Tigers bred in zoos or in small cages in private
collections will select for those qualities ie, docility, adaptation
to confinement that enable them to be kept in such conditions. How
much better is it to have tigers living in controlled areas where
the natural qualities will select such as hunting ability, muscle
development?. As to “the stud book” what nonsense: I cite dog
breeding as an example. They are all in the stud book but now we
have Bulldogs that cannot breathe because their noses no longer
function through selective breeding with other “stud book” animals.
Had the same project been possible in the tiger’s
native countries with similar security and anti-poaching measures
there would be no complaint.
I do not know Cory Meacham but unlike the Varty
brothers, David and JV, has this person played any role in
conservation of any species anywhere or run a commercial venture
geared to ecology?. (Surely the only way to guarantee continuing
One of the Varty’s unsung claims is their
pioneering work at Londolozi with leopards that has led not only to
cloning of their operation throughout numerous countries but
importantly has provided economic benefits to the local people
through tourism in each case.
The area where Tiger Canyons is situated is one
of the poorest regions of South Africa. Unemployment is high and the
HIV infection rate among the local population is huge. Modelled on
Londolozi’s successful, proven formula in due course the presence of
these animals has the potential not only to provide a valuable
bloodline for the tiger but depending on your point of view an even
more important lifeline for the local people.
So, which is the better option for these
marvellous cats, a rapidly decreasing population in Asia and
eventual extinction? But before settling for this option and casting
the tiger to oblivion – or at least to zoo parks with tiny
enclosures where the animals are fed soy vegetarian formula antelope
burgers – go and see for yourself.
There is an alternative………………..