JV and THE BIG CATS  



Home

Mission

Founder: John Varty

Tiger Canyons
Tiger Experiment
Invest in Tigers
JV Image Library
Tiger Canyons tigers

Tiger Anatomy

Tourism

Volunteers
Merchandise
Research

JV's Films

Poaching

Tiger Conservation

Tiger Subspecies

Tiger Newsletters

Tiger Photo Gallery

Contact us


 

 


Select newsletter in right column


Newsletter 52
04/04/12

The anatomy of an aggressive tiger


Corbett

Hello friends 

I have known Tiger Corbett from the moment he was born. I suspect he was born first in the litter from his mother, Shadow, and as his feet touched the ground he walked from the den into the 36 degrees centigrade heat outside. By chuffing him, I guided him back to his mother. In short, I had a conversation with Corbett within 10 minutes of his birth. 

When the cubs were 16 days old, I crawled into Shadow’s den. All the other cubs froze, hidden in the thick bush. Corbett, however, turned and spat and snarled at the camera. This strengthened my belief that aggression is in the genes. Two weeks after this incident, I went to weigh the cubs while Shadow was away from the den hunting. Once again, Corbett ‘attacked’ me and the camera. 

At 14 months old, Corbett stalked a group of men working on the fence and only the alert watchman detected him in the grass. As the team clamored into the jeep, he charged them flat out. 

Early in October 2010, Corbett was speared through the nose by a blesbuck while attempting to hunt it. The vet, Dr Charlotte Moueix performed a three hour operation and successfully saved him.
www.jvbigcats.co.za/newsletters39.htm


Corbett during the operation, Oct 2010

In January 2011 after 300mm of rain fell on Tiger Canyon and washed away the Eastern fence, Corbett was the first tiger to leave the enclosures. What followed - www.jvbigcats.co.za/newsletters41.htm - is recorded and is probably one of the most extraordinary reactions between a tiger and a human. As Corbett charged through the water at Ricky, my assistant, Ricky was able to calm him down by chuffing – this almost certainly saved his life.. 


Broken fences after January 2011 flood

On one late afternoon this summer, I was strolling out to the reservoir for a swim. Corbett charged from a distance of about 80 meters towards me, breaking a 6000 volt trip wire and a 5800 volt main wire. Fortunately for me, the mesh caught him and threw him back into his side of the fence. Armed with only my swimming towel, if he had broken through the fence, I believe he would have killed me. On yet another occasion, while I was pulling a dart from his brother, Sariska, Corbett charged from about 80 meters and I was just able to stop him by firing a bullet in front of him. I began to believe Corbett’s levels of aggression were unusually high. 

For the past ten years, I have been making films with Aquavision. It’s a credit to Peter Lamberti – the founder of the company - that the people he employs are grounded, hard-working, creative and have proved just recently to be highly courageous as well. 

Whenever I go to Aquavision studios, Julie Brown always greets me with a big hug and a beautiful smile and makes me feel welcome at the offices. During my last trip to Aquavision, I suggested to her that she should come to see the tigers. I was delighted when she phoned me a few days later to tell me that she would be visiting the tigers with her parents. The decision would prove to be momentous for me. She then stayed on with the Aquavision film crew to film the first uterine sonar scan of Tigress Julie in the wild. 

As we practiced the sequence in preparation for filming. Tigress Julie was cooperative as always and sat up on the jeep with me and we  went through all the maneuvers with the sonar equipment – Julie totally ignoring the film crew standing around.

It was a fine afternoon and once again I felt the enormous privilege of being in the presence of the peaceful, calm, intelligent tiger. It occurred to me how well things were going at Tiger Canyon and in what good condition the land and all the tigers were. 

Having finished the trial run, the crew got back into the jeeps for the return trip to the camp. I went to latch the gates to the boma. 

Adjacent to Tigress Julie’s boma, was Corbett and his sister Panna in their boma. As usual, Corbett had been paying attention to everything that was going on around him while Panna was nowhere to be seen. As I struggled to latch the gate, I kept looking behind me, as is my habit when at the gates. I noticed a tiger on a rock about 120 meters away and presumed it to be Corbett. In retrospect I realize that the tiger I saw on the rock was Panna while Corbett had been crouching in the grass not 15 m from where I stood, watching my every move. 

Finally, I managed to latch the gate securely and as I turned to go to the jeep parked about 15 meters away Corbett charged the fence from inside his boma.

All my gates at Tiger Canyon are made from steel bars – the exception is this gate in the holding boma, which has horizontal barbed and electrified wire strung horizontally across it. 

Somehow, Corbett managed to reach through the wire and with his massive paws hook me around the waist and drag me back against the gate. At this point, it flashed through my mind to use the stick or the hand gun I carry, but Corbett was too quick and his grip too powerful. In short, I was like a rag doll being ripped as he tried to drag me through the wire into his boma. It struck me that these were my last moments on planet Earth. From a distance I heard Julie Brown screaming and to my amazement, risking her life, she jumped off the jeep and grabbed me by my legs and was in a tug-of-war with Corbett. But no human can match a 450lb tiger for strength and power. Flashing through my mind was to try to protect my throat and head. For a moment I thought to sham dead. This was all futile in the grip of the powerful Corbett.

The film producer, Julie-Ann Reid, joined Julie Brown trying to wrest me away from Corbett, but the tiger wouldn’t let go. The incredible bravery of these two women gave cameraman Phumlani Mchunu time to grab an iron bar from the vehicle and smash Corbett over the head, forcing him to release me.

For people who have never worked with tigers, to go up against a ferocious tiger armed only with a steel bar, is an incredible act of bravery. They saved my life. 

Thankfully I was able to stagger to my feet and get into the jeep despite extraordinary pain. Ricky Pretorius, my assistant drove brilliantly to Philippolis where the ambulance was waiting for us. This 30 minute drive was on of the most excruciating experiences of my life as the rutted road jolted my bruised and battered body. 

My good friend Dr Willie Marx had taken care of logistics at the Bloemfontein Mediclinic and from there things moved like clockwork. Dr Vivian Simmons and anesthetist, Dr Nico Steyn, were standing by and for 6 hours the dedicated doctors fought for my life – the operation ending at 04h45. 

I’d like to express my extreme gratitude for their skill and dedication in saving my life. 

On waking me up the following morning, the three doctors were pale and drained. They told me it was one of the most difficult operations they had attempted. In short, Corbett had broken two of my ribs, splintered a piece of my spine, cut through the wall of my diaphragm and lacerated my body which took hours to clean and hundreds of stitches to repair. 

When the nursing sister looked at my blood tests she noticed that the testosterone levels were high and promptly ordered all the female nurses to move to the other wards and replaced them with male nurses! 

The doctors told me they had given me 2 units of blood and steroids to help me through. All of them promised not to report me to the Olympic doping committee as I’m hoping to enter the wrestling event in the London Olympics!

I’d like to thank the following for their love and support:

Sunette Fourie, Zelda Kabola, Hanro Reinecke, Skye Ebden, Hardus Vermaak, Kate Groch, BJ Watson, Dave, Shan, Boyd, Bronwyn Varty, Gillian van Houten, Savannah, Tao and Sean

Tread lightly on the earth.
JV


Tread lightly on the Earth

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


Newsletters


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
Tiger Green Hunting

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
Tiger Boma


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