Monday, March 28, 2011

Jukani Wildlife Predator Park - Our "Save The Tigers" Campaign

White Bengal tiger cubs at Jukani Wildlife Predator Park in Mossel Bay

Angelo and Mich, two white Bengal tiger cubs, arrived at Jukani Wildlife Predator Park in Mossel Bay during December 2008. Their arrival was the result of a request by a Wildlife breeding facility in the Free State Province to Jukani to assist them in importing four white Bengal tigers from Elmvale Zoo in Canada. Free State Province in SA does not allow the import of exotic species into the Province. Jukani is recognised by the authorities as a bona fide zoological facility and as such able to import animals. The request was agreed to by Jukani with the understanding that 2 tigers would stay at Jukani on loan and any progeny going to the facility in FS Province after the FS facility managed to acquire a permit for two of the four white Bengals to be kept in the FS.

White Bengal tiger male with Progressive Retinal Atrophy

In July 2009 a wildlife veterinarian specialist diagnosed Angelo the white Bengal tiger male with Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a genetic transferable and incurable disease that would leave him permanently blind. As a result of his disease he would need specialist and continued medical treatment, with a team of care takers that he trusts and accepts.

Uncertain future awaits the tigers

On supplying this info to the owner of the FS based facility they immediately replied that we should either buy the two animals, demanding a sum of R240 000-00 per animal, which was later raised to R250 000-00 each, or they would remove and / or sell them to somebody else, irrespective of our plight that Angelo cannot be used as a breeding male and that he is reliant on Mich, the female, acting as his eyes. Fortunately our written agreement makes provision for Jukani to have first option of purchase at an agreed market related price and we chose to exercise that right as a uncertain future awaits the tigers, should they be removed from our facilities.

Tiger owners exposed by Carte Blanche

In February 2010 the owners of the tigers and also the FS facility were exposed by Carte Blanche for the slaughtering of lions to sell the bones and body parts to the Chinese traditional medicinal market. Even though they had approval from the FS Department of Nature Conservation to slaughter the lions it is a highly controversial ethical issue resulting in a massive public outrage at their actions. We also determined that the owners of the tigers had previously also been on Carte Blanche as a result of their alleged involvement in supplying lions to canned lion hunting operators. Although all tiger subspecies are protected under CITES 1 regulations and the hunting of captive or wild tigers is banned internationally the fact remains that Angelo is going blind and that may allow the authorities in FS and North West Province to grant permission to destroy this animal by means of euthanasia in a trophy hunt or canned hunt. It is also a well known fact that poaching is a massive problem in SA with an inadequate number of officials not able to even “police” and manage legal facilities. Thus the illegal shooting of a protected animal in a canned hunt can slip through the filters quite easily. Fact of the matter is that Angelo is worth more dead than alive from a breeder’s point of view. His skin and body parts will fetch a very high price in the Chinese traditional medicinal market.
Jurg, Karen and the Jukani team
Jurg, Karen and the Jukani team have raised Angelo and Mich from the age of 4 months and have: 1. Developed a very strong relationship with Angelo and have gained his trust with his reliance on his knowledge of his enclosure and his reliance on Mich and his caretakers, as is obvious for everyone to see. 2. Research on blind animals confirmed that Angelo can lead a good life as a blind animal provided that his specific needs are taken care of, this includes consistency in the caretakers working with him, his enclosure design not being altered, proper medical care and that Mich stays with him. 3. Angelo has the right of life, as he was bred to be in captivity and his medical condition is the result of human interference by means of inbreeding to achieve the monetary benefit of a white tiger. 4. Angelo should not be allowed to breed as this would compromise the genetic pool of white tigers even further. 5. It is a fact that very few facilities have the time and space to care for an animal suffering from blindness and most of these animals end up being neglected and abused physically and mentally.
Jukani raise funds to purchase the two white Bengal tigers

The decision was taken to raise funds via an international sms, facebook and internet campaign to purchase the two white Bengal tigers, Angelo and Mich to ensure and secure their future with Jukani. This campaign will also be used to raise awareness of this disease, the plight of these animals in captivity and to stop any abuse or neglect of animals suffering from medical ailments. We have all seen what a great friend and companion a trained guide dog can be for his blind human companion, why can’t we be true friends and companions to our animal friends suffering from and living in the lonely world of blindness? PLEASE HELP SAVE THE TIGERS – Donate by texting TXT30 JUKANI to 39827 SMS cost R30 For contact details and more information on Jukani Wildlife Predator Park click here

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