"In The Jaws of the Tiger"
I dedicate this book to Julie Brown, Julieanne Reid and Phumlani Mchunu
who risked their lives to save mine in the attack by Tiger
"I turned my back to
close the gate
A careless moment a twist of fate
He shoved his paw and the dew claw gripped
I spun like a top and then I slipped
Into the Jaws of the Tiger"
From the Song
"In the Jaws of the Tiger"
John Varty's long awaited book "In the Jaws of
the Tiger" has finally gone to print.
The book tracks the period from when JV acquired the cubs, Tiger Ron
and Tigress Julie,
from Bowmanville Zoo in 2000, to the near fatal attack by Tiger
Corbett in March 2012.
JV describes the joy of watching the zoo born tigers Ron and Julie
catch their first blesbuck
and later becoming super hunters in their own right.
"It was like watching my
boys score their first goal in a soccer match"
The tension in Julie's den is unbearable as JV
introduces the 6 day old lion cub Savannah into the litter.
"For the first hour I
thought Julie was going to kill her"
Every morning at first light, JV went to Julie's
"This morning Julie was
preparing to move the cubs to a new den site. As she carried the
out of the den, the second cub became caught in a thorn bush and
gave a distress call. Gently she
lowered the first cub into my lap while she freed
the second cub. Such trust, Such love!"
JV created a den for tigress Shadow to give birth
to her first litter. Surveillance cameras were positioned
to capture the birth.
"As Corbett's feet touched the ground, he waddled
out of the den and into 38 degrees heat.
By crawling next to him I chuffed him and he answered me back. I had
had my first conversation with Corbett, just 15 minutes old, a
precious moment indeed."
"In the Jaws of the Tiger" tells the ongoing saga
of Shadow intent on biting the tyres of the vehicles.
"I saw Tigress Shadow
charging for the second wheel. I fired trying to spray the sand
into her face. The bullet ricochet upwards. I saw the tigress
jump, blood spurting from her back leg."
When Tigress Shadow sat on her one cub, JV crawled
into the den to see, if like leopards, she would
eat the cub.
"Tigress Shadow was
grooming the dead cub. She stopped and stared at me. I now know she
was growling at me but it was too low for my ears. Suddenly she
charged knocking me down.
I grabbed her around the neck like a boxer going into a clinch. All
the time I chuffed and
lowered my voice to calm her. Her pupils were dilated, her nostrils
flared. Gradually she
relaxed and then returned to her den as fast as she had come"
The book describes the disappointment of Julie
abandoning her second litter of cubs.
"The den was not well
chosen. A steep bank sloped down to a stream. One cub rolled down
the bank and into the water. Julie made no effort to
She neither groomed or suckled the cubs and within an hour
she left, never to return!
A large electrical storm
was moving in. I did what any caring emotional person would do,
I picked the cubs up. Two were normal colour and one was white"
"I was there when you
Thunder rolled and electric storm
Your mother has gone off into the night
I see the glow of a flickering light
I called you Shine, Shine a light"
From the Song
"Shine a Light"
Julie's third litter was 5 cubs of which one,
Runti, was much smaller and weaker then the others.
"I went out early and
found Julie sitting outside the cave. While Ricky kept watch, I went
down and sat 10 feet from Julie. Julie immediately got up and came
and flopped down on top
of me. No sooner was she lying down when all the cubs came out to
suckle. Now from
underneath Julie, I took the bean bag, put it on top of her and put
the camera on the bean bag.
Literally inches from the lens, I filmed the cubs suckling and by
reversing the screen on the
EX1 Sony camera, I could do the
commentary from underneath the tigress.
Millions of people from 180
countries would later see the sequence in the television series
"Tiger Man of Africa"
The book graphically describes the ferocious
attack by Tiger Seatao on Tiger Ron even after
Ron had been killed.
"Tiger Seatao circled
Ron's body cautiously and then he charged sinking his 5 inch canines deep into Ron's throat.
It was a brutal
and ferocious attack, one of the hardest things I have ever filmed
in my life"
Tiger Canyons is supposed to be an arid area, but
in January of 2011, 300 millimeters of rain
fell in the space of 8 hours.
"Ricky totally unaware
that 400 meters of the perimeter fence was gone and that Corbett had
swam out of Tiger Canyons and into the farm land,
was wading through knee deep water. Suddenly from a reeded island,
Corbett charged Ricky. Ricky tried shouting, cursing and swearing at
Corbett, but to no avail.
Corbett began to circle menacingly. At one point Corbett tried to
trip Ricky and knock him down.
Now Ricky changed his tactics, he began to chuff Corbett. Talking
slowly and calmly and lowering
the tone of his voice, Ricky got Corbett to relax.
Ricky twice more and then strolled back onto the island"
The book will bring you to tears when you read
the tragic ending of the magnificent Tigress Shine.
"In the heavy reeds, I
found Tiger Corbett standing over the body of Tigress Shine. He had
begun to feed off her.
Later in the morning I
discovered where someone had cut the perimeter fence. By piecing the
evidence together, I deduced the following: In the early hours of
Sunday morning the 15th of
August 2010, hunters in the canned tiger business, fired a dart into
Tigress Shine, hoping to
capture her for a canned tiger hunt.
Their dosage and combination of
drugs was incorrect and
she ran from the fence into heavy reeds.
Tiger Corbett heard her
thrashing around as she
recovered from the drug and he killed her"
"What price does
What price does beauty pay
Shattered and torn
Stolen and gone
You turned out the light
The princess has
The princess is gone tonight"
From the Song
"What Price does Beauty
At 18 months old, Corbett attempts to catch a
blesbuck. The male blesbuck sticks a horn through his nostril
ripping it off his face.
"Dr Charlotte Moueix
performed an incredible 3 hour operation to stitch Tiger Corbett's
nose back. Today Tiger Corbett is easily identified by a scar
running across the bridge of his nose"
In March 2012 the tiger project nearly ends when
Tiger Corbett attacks JV as he is closing a gate.
"I felt the dew claw
catch me on the hip and I spun back with sickening force towards the
Two ribs and a piece of my spine broke on impact. One rib punctures
Tiger Corbett grabs me by the neck. His canines go through the thick
collar on the
camouflage jacket I am wearing and into my neck. Now he proceeds to
pull me into the boma.
One of the film crew, Julie Brown makes the first run, grabbing me
by one leg. Julieanne Reid
tries to grab my revolver but is unsuccessful. She takes hold of the second
leg. Phumlani Mchunu grabs
a wooden stick from the jeep and hits Tiger Corbett three times over
the head. On the 3rd strike,
Corbett rears back and I hear the words, run JV run! In a crouched
run, I struggle for the jeep
and dive in head first. Time stands still at Tiger Canyons"
"Bravery is an
Some will run and some will go in
Some will fight
The will to survive
And some will die
In the jaws of the tiger"
"In the Jaws of the Tiger"
"In the Jaws of the Tiger" is a soft cover A4
size landscape format.
Its has 96 colour photo
pages in high gloss.
It is self published and all funds will go
towards tiger conservation.
The book will only be available at Londolozi Game Reserve and Tiger
The price is R450 in South Africa and $50 outside
100 limited signed leather-bound editions are
being made available at R1500 or $150.
Price includes postage and VAT.
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Ordinary books (R450; $50)
Leather-bound books (R1500; $150)