While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Digiscoping Wild Tigers... in Africa!

There are no wild tigers in Africa. There never have been.

But there are, you see. Barbara and I had the incredible opportunity to visit a reserve in central South Africa that is working on a breeding programme to produce WILD, free-living tigers in a well-protected environment. Recent stories from India suggest that the tiger reserves there are fast loosing their tigers: the famous tiger reserve, the Panna National Park, has no more tigers.

A 300kg (660lb) big male tiger named Seatao

The fact that John Varty and co have successfully been able to establish a population of free-living and hunting tigers in the South African Karoo (of all places) really attests to the adaptability and resilience of this incredible species.

Tiger Boy, a young male, posing for the camera. He was about 40m away at this stage.

Leopards and Jaguars may be THE greatest beings ever ;-) but the experience of being with these tigers was well up there with the greatest things I have experienced in my life. These are hauntingly beautiful creatures. Their sheer size dwarfs that of the other big cats I am used to, but it is their magical power that affected me the most.

I was humbled by their presence.
I hardly spoke.
...As I just soaked in their power.

Shadow currently has three 7 months old cubs. Her colour is much richer than the other tigers we saw.

That night, I dreamed tigers. Everywhere I looked there were tiger faces. In my dreams, in daydreams, and in those precious few moments between being asleep and awake.

Shine, a 7 month old white tigress. She is going to be stunning as an adult, and will probably be the only wild living white tiger in the world.

These are no ordinary animals, they are magical beings with a power and presence well beyond my meager ability to understand or comprehend.

Please tell your friends about this tiger blog post, about JV's official Tiger Canyons website, and about what can be done for the tigers.

Dale Forbes


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

This is incredible Dale. I knew John many, many years ago and a very nice person indeed. I have heard about this place but forgotton its existance until you mentioned it. What a fantastic experience this must have been.

I do love the white one. Bengal's have to be one of the most beautiful cats ....... after the cheetah of course. :)

Gaelyn said...

They are stunning. I could feel their power coming thru in your excellent captures.

Dale Forbes said...

Hi Joan, please feel free to link through to this post from your blog, or to say something about the tigers yourself: they can use all the public support they can get!

Dale Forbes said...

Hi Gaelym, if you could feel the power then I must have done something right - I really worked hard to try to capture even a little glimmer of all they have to offer.

Chris said...

Hi Dale,
Incredible to be able to visit such a place and get so many nice portraits shots. I envy you man!!

Anonymous said...

Very nice photography.

T and S said...

India seem to have woken up to this grim realities. The Tiger population is recovering but very slowly. I have been lucky to have about 5-6 sightings infact that last one was with four cubs, posted on my blog sometime back

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Dale. I have linked it. If you want to suggest other text to what I have written, just let me know.

Dale Forbes said...

Thanks Abe!

Thomas, how could I forget that wonderful blog post of yours - it really inspired me.

Thanks for the link, Joan, you're a sweetie!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photographs. I am planning a visit to SA in 2010, and I will have to look into a visit to the tigers. I really like your picture of Tiger Boy resting his head on his foreleg. He looks so relaxed in that pose, but I have a feeling that he could jump to in a moment's notice.