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Newsletter 74
09/07/13

Raw Power

It was a cold misty morning at Tiger Canyons in South Africa, when the game drive came upon the two tiger males, Sunderban and Shy Boy posturing for a fight. 


Sunderban, 200kg, traps Shy Boy, 185kg, against the river bank, staring him down

Sunderban was in Shy Boy's territory and was the bigger and more aggressive of the two. Five years old Sunderban weighed easily 200 kilograms while Shy Boy 8 years old weighs less, maybe 185 kilograms. 

This fight had been building up for months and I was interested to see whether Sunderban would take his coalition partner, Mahindra, into the fight. If he won the fight, Sunderban would get access to a larger territory and 4 additional females. The stakes were high, to say the least. 


Two male tigers box. Claws extended, trying to rip each other

Shy Boy did his best to bluff his way out of the fight but Sunderban was pressing for the kill. After a number of boxing sessions, Shy Boy tried to take refuge in the river. Launching off the bank, Sunderban had the advantage of height and knocked Shy Boy down and got him in the death grip, by the throat. 


Sunderban knocks Shy Boy into the river.

I have filmed many fights, kills and brutal scenes during my time but this was by far the most raw, the most ferocious. What made it so emotional for me, is that I had been with both these tigers as they grew up from cubs. 

Sunderban was abandoned at birth, so I hand raised him. The hours spent in the canyon swimming with him and his sisters Zaria and Shine, are some of the happiest days of my life. 

Shy Boy as a cub would crawl across and smack the camera off the bean bag when I came too close to his kill.  

In short these two tigers are great friends of mine and I value that friendship greatly. I was desperately hoping for a friendly outcome but it was not to be.

I could relate to Shy Boy situation as he lay in the great jaws of Sunderban, the life draining from his body.

All I could do was stay neutral, stay calm and record the unbelievable scene unfolding in front of my eyes. 


Sunderban has Shy Boy in a death grip

Four minutes, five minutes went by. Shy Boy has had it! He's out of strength and he's out of air. 


Sunderban, presuming Shy Boy is dead, relaxes his grip

Suddenly Sunderban thinking Shy Boy was dead, relaxes his grip momentarily. Shy Boy kicks ferociously catching Sunderban throwing him backwards. Like a flash, Shy Boy is back on his feet, boxing, ripping, fighting for his life. 


Shy Boy, using back and front feet, kicks Sunderban off

Two exhausted tigers stare each other down

The primeval scene is one of the rawest and most brutal I have ever witnessed. Both tigers are a brown colour from the mud, the eyes and white teeth stand out against the dark background. The red blood flows from both tigers and steam rises in clouds from their bodies and snarling mouths. 


Shy Boy stares into the face of a killer

Eight professional cameras photograph from three viewing vehicles and I have no doubt that the images will travel instantly across the world.  


Shy Boy turns his head away in a submissive gesture

Hardened photographers elated by the images they have captured are also shocked at the brutality and ferocity of the fight. 

Personally I am emotionally drained by the ordeal, stunned at the raw power of the tigers, saddened that two of my tiger friends are in such a brutal fight. 

Like a triumphant boxer who jumps onto the ropes after victory, Sunderban goes onto the highest rock to proclaim his victory. 

Shy Boy is lying in some rocks, inaccessible to me and a vehicle. Is he hurt? What terrible wounds have been inflicted? Will Sunderban attack him again? What could I have done to prevent this terrible tragedy? These are the thoughts racing through my mind. 

One thing is certain, the expansion of the tiger range at Tiger Canyons which started on the 1st July 2013, cannot came soon enough.

Tread lightly on the Earth
JV

PS
Shy Boy gas been seen since the fight and he is fine.


With Thanks:

I would like to congratulate Rodney & Lorna Drew on purchasing three magnificent properties, Kromdam, Uithou and St Elmo's, which border Tiger Canyons. 

The purchase of these three properties, allows us to greatly expand the tiger home range and provides a large area for wild cheetah. 

The extended Tiger Canyons now has 16 kilometers lake frontage of the Van Der Kloof Lake. 

An 8 bed luxury lodge comparable with Londolozi, is being designed on the canyon. 


I would like to thank James Annenberg La Vea for his most generous donation of 5 km of predator proof fence, 30 blesbuck and a large dam designed to accommodate flamingoes and swimming tigers in open water.

Tread lightly
JV

 

 

Tread lightly on the Earth

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


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Londolozi
Newsletters

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Elephant Trust