Posted by: englishdubai | February 4, 2009

Tiger Feet

After a frantic week in Cairo, an eight hour turnaround in Dubai and a fog delayed flight of three hours I was on my way to South Africa for a well deserved break. After over 36 hours without sleep, I was glad to arrive at the Hotel in Muldersdrift and get my head down. The following morning my friends and I went for a trip to the local Lion and Rhino reserve. It was a fanatastic day and Sidwell, our tourguide, looked after us well. I will be writing more about the day however I wanted to share a magical ten minutes.

Ten minutes with Tiger Cubs. The reserve had an Animal Creche the highlight of which was the wild cat cubs. For only $2 you could choose to spend time with one of the following one month old white lion cubs, six month old brown lion cubs, five month old black leopards, three months old cheetahs and three and half month old tiger cubs.

The choice for me was clear –  tiger cubs. I had been watching them earlier and they were quite lively.  I was a little apprenhensive at first as I recall a long time ago as a young lad I once held a lion cub at a circus and it left a scratch or two. However the volunteer who showed me the tiger cubs gave a few words of reassurance and I was soon with the tigers.

The one we spent most of the time with was a playful young fella called “Thor”. He was really cute and it reminded me of that line in the Disney movie the Lion King “He’s so cute and all alone. Can we keep him?”

I took my camera and shot the following photos blind – just aiming my camera down low and rapid firing hoping something good would come out. I was super pleased with the results.

Thor decided he needed to have a littly yawn and a mini roar:

And displayed a full set of teeth, despite only that while only 14 weeks old they are all ready nuturing a full set of serious teeth:

The nice volunteer who worked at the reserve showed her affection for the tiger cubs with a cute kiss:

I was happier to pet them gently and enjoy their playful fun:

As we left the Tiger cubs played with each other, developing the skills they would need later in life if they were to ever to go back to the wild:

I asked the volunteer what would happen to these beautiful tigers. Her honest  response left us both sad – they would either be sold to another reserve, sold to a zoo abroad or be entered into a breeding program.

It left me feeling a little cold. It was a magical experience to be up so close and personal with such magnificant creatures but the outcome of where this was all leading to made me wonder that while we strive to preserve these species surely this should be done without commercial gain?


%d bloggers like this: