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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
 
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Living with Tigers

I don't know how many of you watch this show, I have not been able to keep up with it, however I did watch today's show, which was simply incredible.

As a lady who aims to some day own and run a refuge for big cat species (namely Jaguars), this was very interesting as well as important.

This one was about the Tigers final release, now adults brother and sister (whom went separate ways in the end).
However, they are living in a sanctuary in Africa, which is not their natural habitat, so this whole thing has been controversial. While it is great that this is another chance to preserve wild tigers, we must also think of the effect they would have on the ecosystem of Africa, I'm sure we all know there can be repercussions for introducing a new species in a foreign place.
As of now it has been shown that even in Africa these two Tigers raised in captivity, are proficient killers in that land.
Watching this show certainly does give you a more in-depth feeling that Tigers are very smart, and what they are capable of.
Their former handlers taught them to chase and kill, and become dependant on themselves for their meals. In addition their handler would take possession of their fresh kill, of course giving it back to them as a reward. This is something that has simply never been done before.

Every time I watch shows like this, or talk with others whom work with big cats, only reassures my theory about paw swiping at cats, not just Tigers but our domestic ones as well. Few people whom have not studied on the larger species have a hard time accepting this type of communication as natural, or even ultimately positive when it comes to our house cats.

I personally do this with my own cats, and any fosters which have come here, however, I do not encourage anyone to do this! Doing it in the wrong manner or the wrong time can yield negative or confusing effects.

I just find these acts to be a step in the right direction when it comes to communicating with felines via body language.

At any rate I was just wondering what any of you happen to think about this situation, and the possibility of more Tigers being relocated to unnatural environments.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-21-2003, 11:22 PM
 
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Hi,Angelzoo! Love your cat pics! Please tell me how you did it!
Anyway, I didn't watch the show but could it be possible that tigers used to be in Africa? Maybe they are trying to reintroduce the species?
But come to think of it, haven't we humans been relocating animals to unnatural environments ever since we existed?I am talking about zoos, circuses,even our homes. We give so many reasons why we do this, but it just boils down to our basic desire to control everything.
Well, this is what I think.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
 
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yayi: I personally am all for relocation to a good safe, and natural as possible environment for any endangered species.

And yes, as with any time this has happen, there have been nay Sayers. I just HOPE, there isn't some crazy person out there, so dead set against this, that they actually go out and kill these 2 tigers. It would be very upsetting but nothing surprises me in this world.

As far as them formally being from Africa *shrugs* the now a days Africa could be much different from what it was back from tiger descendants. Tigers have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, cold and snow, and there is now a family which hunts in a swamp marsh. These animals are still evolving even with out help from us, I think they are meant to stick around, but humans will be the ones to kill them off.

A good example of why there might be controversy over this, they had a bunch of bucks about the size of a Tommy or Thompson Gazelle they let them loose, and let the Tigers set up their own technique for bringing them down. From these 2 tigers, in no time flat they had chased down and killed 7 of these bucks! 7, in the wild even a pride of lions would be lucky to get one kill a day (granted it would be a bigger kill in most cases).
They even put them up against a herd of wildebeest and they took one down, this which was considered an ultimate test for them.

So you see, if they are such efficient killers in this land, it might eventually cause imbalance between these type of predators and the grazers. Lions, Leopards, Hyenas etc will now have more competition and perhaps loose out on their own food and head towards extinction themselves. Or even just as bad, driven closer to civilization where they would surely be killed.

As for my signature picture, I made it in Photoshop
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 08:29 AM
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Statistics show that tigers in their natural environment make a kill on only 5%, or one in twenty, of their hunts. A large part of the reason: animals in their region had developed senses to match, and often knew when the star predator was coming, and the jungle was a dark place full of little retreats and hiding places. In a new region, chock full of giant herds and open spaces, the animals have come to expect wild dogs, lions, leopards, hyenas... these new, exotic predators are a total surprise for which they are not totally prepared.

I doubt that tiger populations will explode to huge numbers in Africa, though there is always the worry that the ecosystem will go out of balance. There are huge herds in Africa, but they're migratory, and aren't there all of the time in the same place. But there are thousands of them. I heard that there was one lion per 3000 wildebeest or something, though I cannot be sure. I doubt that tigers will kill off large numbers of animals, but I doubt that they will go and live in tiger paradise. Some disease they catch might do some in, or some poacher might shoot them, or just a fanatic who can't stand the idea of new animals being introduced into the area. Or, perhaps a tiger sometime might be tempted to steal a kill from a lion, or vice versa. A tiger might be huge, but against a large pride of hungry lions, the odds are different.

Then again, I don't know that much on this topic. I didn't even watch the show, so these are just first ideas that popped into my head reading this thread.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 11:31 AM
 
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AngelZoo, I found your post very interesting. Can you talk more about paw swiping and body language with domestic cats? Thanks!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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Tae: That is a perfect interpretation. Those are the same concerns and thoughts that many people have. The sanctuary is a good idea, because repopulating Tigers back into their natural habitat, would be next to impossible now a days. I'd rather try this as a "controlled" alternative, then have no Tigers at all.


Kristi: I'm afraid that for your own safety and the mental health of your cat I can not really teach anyone to do it, plus it's not exactly something which can be fully taught over the internet, I will gladly PM you more about the reasons why some people use this and their results however. If some day you are interested, and look deep enough, perhaps you could find a certified zoologist whom works with felines to assist you in trying this yourself, or other similar certified individuals for domestic cats.
As I am not certified *yet* it is wrongful of me to teach this.
Just as long as you understand the above.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 07:06 PM
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I watched that program with great interest. Angel, perhaps you were busy with your child, but you missed several valuable points. First, the tigers are in an enclosed refuge which was purchased for this project. The area is enclosed by a solar powered electric fence. Quote from the Discovery Channel :

The predator-proof fence is the biggest in all of South Africa. John describes it as "a clever design." It's a shocking 12-feet high with an overhang of 2 feet. Eight electrical wires are powered by solar panels. It goes on and on, for 70-plus miles, even crossing the 400-meter-wide Gariep River. Twice. End Quote


The cats are wearing transmitters and will be followed wherever they go. The female will be impregnated, but not by her brother. If this program is successful, other tigers born in zoos will be introduced and taught to manage in this refuge. It took almost four years to teach these two tigers how to hunt effectively, and they had only ONE killing spree. The trainers were very much surprised by this.

In addition, there will be no lions or other big cats in this privately owned reserve. The whole purpose of the project is to have a source from which tigers can be returned to their natural habitat, Asia. This refuge, they hope, will allow more tigers to produce more litters in a natural, but protected area, rather than a zoo. Right now there are more tigers in captivity than in their natural habitats. It took two experts in animal behavior almost four years to accomplish what has been done thus far. I doubt they will return them to India, because it is over populated, and tigers must encroach on human territory to find food. Their territory is almost gone. However, tigers are native to many parts of Asia that are sparsely populated, but have been hunted to near extinction. As long as they do not leave the preserve, I think this is a wonderful idea, but we mustn't disturb the balance of nature. We've done enough of that, and have mostly done harm.

The Discovery Channel has a story, complete with a video tape with snippets of the program and various opinions on the subject.

http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tigers/tigers.html




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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-22-2003, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
 
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Jeanie: Yes I am aware of what you have just mentioned. As I had noted, they are in a sanctuary which means they are contained. But regardless, their prey will come from some where, another source that probably was suppose to be roaming out there for a pack of lions.
Anything that we do, with killing, moving, producing animals, has an effect regardless of them being in a contained area.
It goes along with the same problems that follow people who hunt to keep population numbers down, there have been times they were allowed to hunt too much, and then we didn't have ENOUGH of said species.

And yes they did take years to get to this point, what I'm saying is that once the tigers have finally achieved the ability to hunt on their own, and eventually came to understand how to kill many small grazing animals at one time, they are not likely to forget, and typically will get smarter and more effective at this approach again and again. By introduction a foreign species to another land, feeding them requires that a food source for another animal be removed and used for a different purpose other then what nature had intended, and this is where we start to get into thoughts about controlling nature, and if it's a positive experiment, or if man is just creating more problems again.

Before they showed what they were doing for their enclosure I was trying to picture it in my mind what they would have to do in comparison to other barriers which have been used for different animals in the past. When they had first mentioned the average height of their fences to be about 6 foot I just had to chuckle, I got this image in my mind of Tigers just leaping over that tiny fence to "freedom" lol.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-23-2003, 01:53 PM
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Quote from the Discovery Channel :

The predator-proof fence is the biggest in all of South Africa. John describes it as "a clever design." It's a shocking 12-feet high with an overhang of 2 feet. Eight electrical wires are powered by solar panels. It goes on and on, for 70-plus miles, even crossing the 400-meter-wide Gariep River. Twice. End Quote

The tigers were cubs when the trainers started the program, and couldn't catch a bird, so the shorter fence was sufficient.

As far as the whole program is concerned, I feel positive about it. I don't think the prey made available for 2 tigers will upset the food chain in Africa. When there's a small group of tigers trained and available, they will be moved to Asia, the home of tigers. If even one tiger escapes, it will probably end the program. This is a training ground and nursery only.

If this program is dangerous, we had better close down most of the zoos in America whose tigers are being held in a more natural environment than the cages of 40 years ago. One of the trainers worked with tigers in a zoo; the other is also a trainer of big cats.




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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 06:13 AM
 
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Personally I'm all for the attempts their trying to make to keep tigers from becoming extinct. I love the discovery channel when it has anything to do with animals, I could watch it all day. I thought it was truly amazing how the they managed to establish such a bond with the Tigers. I believe that just goes to show that people who say 'it's impossible to tame wild animals' doesn't always go to the extent true animal lovers would. I think, if I remember correctly, they said Tigers are endangered because of humans. That leaves me to think if we have any chance in preventing the end of a species from our own hands (I don't mean strangling as that might have sounded), then we should take any chance we can. I also tend to put myself in other people/animals perspectives, if we were endangered, regardless if some animal made us that way or not, wouldn't we want to be helped somehow? I might have lept out on a limb there but I'm just expressing my views, I don't want to start any negative emotions from my thoughts. I apologize if I have caused any trouble with this post.

I was glued to my seat, captivated by how a full grown Tiger, like the show was saying, could have easily been capable of killing either of them at any time, yet they had woven such a tight bond. I honestly believe if you devote yourself and give something so much time, patience and love, even if it's what some might call a lost cause, you WILL achieve at least some form of success from all your dedication. I hope no one minds me posting my thoughts and rambling, I sort of get carried away. Have a great day everyone!

- Randy

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