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Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Dorset, UK
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Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Hi fellow readers of Tripadvisor. Could someone please tell me whether Tiger Canyons is worth a visit? We are travelling around South Africa and are currently watching a series about John Varty and his conservation work. Your comments are appreciated.

London, United...
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1. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Hi,

I am also thinking of visiting Tiger Canyons. Has anyone got any information about accommodation in Philippolis, how to get there? Any advice?

Pretoria, South...
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2. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

I would be rather surprised if you find too many SA posters supporting Tiger Canyons. It's not exactly a conservation project, more of a movie set. Most of us haven't even heard the name. Philippolis is a Karoo town in the middle of nowhere. Easy to find. It's on the main road from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Bloemfontein, about 600kms from Jhb.

Novato, California
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3. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

See http://www.jvbigcats.co.za/gamedrives.htm

for details on arranging a visit to Tiger Canyons. We had a wondrous experience!

Pretoria, South...
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4. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

LOL Hoonihoo,

You joined TA forums specifically to post this???? Soooo intertesting! Couldn't have chosen a better time. Maybe some friends in the business? Lol!

London, United...
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5. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

I think this looks like the most un-African thing you could ever do! Why would anybody want to travel thousands of miles around the world to watch non indigenous animals like Tigers!! Next they will have the "Kanga-Karoo" Kangaroo safari experience where you can watch Tigers hunting kangaroos in the Karoo! LOL (that last bit was a bit of a crazy rant sorry!)

Perhaps I am wrong on all of this and a conservationist can explain that we really need Tigers introduced to Africa?

Naracoorte
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6. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

I have to say that as a biologist my initial knee jerk reaction is not a favourable one when it comes to Tiger Canyons. HOWEVER, I have given this a lot more thought and read a lot more on the wild tiger and captive tiger situation as it stands in the world today. The ideal with any species which is virtually critically endangered is to conserve that species in the wild. To do this habitat needs to be protected, poaching controlled and human/animal conflict minimised or eliminated. None of these things is being adequately addressed at this time. With continued population pressure and the complex and fraught socio-economic and political climate in Asia where tigers are clinging on, it is not a hopeful outlook for the continued survival of wild tigers.

Tiger Canyons is by its own admittance an experiment in determining whether free-ranging tigers can be managed in a large captive environment ex-Asia.

Sadly, I believe we are at a crossroads where we have to decide whether we are prepared to see tigers go extinct in the wild or whether it is the right thing to do to take radical and unorthodox measures to try a different conservation model - even if it means taking a species out of its natural range. John Varty has already made that decision for himself. He gets a lot of flack for various reasons, some to do with the filming and promotion or tourism aspects to Tiger Canyons. Personally, I do not have a problem with that at all. Who knows, the experiment could be a failure. On the other hand when tigers go extinct in Asia (and they will) and the few thousand held on tiger farms and zoos die out, we may turn to people like John Varty and thank them for having the gumption to try something out of the box. In the meantime I am prepared to give him the benefit of any doubt, keep an open mind and wish him well. And when I find myself in the Karoo next year I fully intend on seeing Tiger Canyons first hand to consolidate my opinion one way or the other.

London, United...
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7. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Hi,

Accommodation at Starry Nights Karoo Cottages www.starrynights.co.za in

Philippolis (25km from Tiger Canyons).

Transport can be arranged between Starry Nights Karoo Cottages and Tiger

Canyons @ R4/km

I was looking at the above link. However havent checked it yet.

G

Edited: 5:00 pm, November 07, 2012
Bangalore
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8. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

I've just stumbled upon this post rather late in the day. Sorry about that - I'm new to tripadvisor, but not to tiger conservation or wildlife. With all due respect tryhard, you're wrong when you say tigers are destined for extinction in Asia. Tigers have been extirpated in China and a huge part of their former range, including but not limited to Indonesia, but they still roam protected and freely in Thailand's Huai Kha Khaeng and most of India. In fact in the last two years, tiger numbers have increased by 30% in India, which is a great step forward for conservation. This is despite the immense poaching pressure and demand for tiger parts from places like China and Vietnam.

Second, apart from being a totally un-African thing to do, Karoo has no conservation value. The tigers in the fenced reserve are neither free ranging, nor recognised by IUCN or any other conservation organisation. The reason for this is that these formerly captive tigers have mixed lineage and are genetically impure. Karoo could have a thousand tigers for what it's worth, but they will never add up to the wild tiger population of the world. When I allege that these tigers are not free ranging, I say so because they live in a fenced reserve and have no chance of using a wild corridor to spread their genes. This is unlike Asia, where Panthera, WCS and local governments are using corridors to help tiger numbers multiply. The great Himalayan corridor, the Nilgiri Biosphere, the Central India corridor and the Rajeev Gandhi Biosphere are examples of how this approach is successful.

The bigger and most important point is that every charismatic animal stands for an ecosystem. For the African savannah, it is the lion, the cheetah and the leopard. These umbrella species protect the ecosystem they live in and are a symbol of a healthy food chain. The tiger represents none of that in Africa. The conservation value therefore of fencing tigers in an African savanna is a big zero. What ecosystem is the tiger protecting that the lion, leopard and cheetah cannot? A successful tiger population in India on the other hand protects the country's green cover, provides for its water security and keeps its biodiversity intact.

Varty has had accolades for the Londolozi leopard success. That makes sense since the leopard is an animal native to Africa. By rewilding captive tigers in a fenced reserve, he is doing conservation no good though. He's just being a greedy businessman trying to lure tourists and photographers without really caring for tiger conservation in its historic range,

My 2 pence,

Sumeet

South Africa
5 posts
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9. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Although I haven't been to Tiger Canyons I can definitely recommend Starry Nights Karoo Cottages for self catering accommodation in Philippolis. Clean, beautifully renovated old cottages, comfortable beds and crisp bed linen, everything very well looked after by the friendly owner. Each cottage has a private little space at the back, (some with fruit trees!) and the nights are truly starry and quiet. Perfect stay over between the Cape and Johannesburg. Pity that the road between Colesburg and Philippolis is a strip of potholes presently, so GO SLOW there and by day only. The road from Trompsburg to Philippolis is much better fortunately. A pleasant relief from the N1. The town has an interesting history and old buildings. There is a very good restaurant and Africana bookshop to die for. In short, a simply lovely Karoo experience.

South Africa
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10. Re: Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Karoo, South Africa

Oh dear, that should read COLESBERG, in the above review, not Colesburg.

Edited: 6:05 am, February 24, 2013