What a lot of fun we’re having right now in South Africa, hey? With the World Cup fading into a yellowy-sepia tone, we’ve been given a rampaging-tiger-on-the-loose drama to hook into.
What a jolly jape. What a rollicking rumpus. What a rip-roaring reality show. What a complete poephol Goosey Fernandes is.
Goosey Fernandes. That tells you all you need to know. Would you buy a used car from an oke called Goosey Fernandes? Would you open your mouth to a dentists who drills by the name of Goosey Anything? I wouldn’t. The man is clearly an idiot.
Who keeps a tiger in his backyard? And then sticks him on the back of a bakkie to take him to the vet? Only a guy called Goosey.
So Panjo, for that is the name given to Goosey’s pet “cat”, jumped off the bakkie, swung by the local Wimpy, didn’t fancy a double cheeseburger and fries and disappeared. Any well brought-up and obedient domesticated animal would have reported itself missing to Sergeant Kriel at the copshop but not Panjo.
Panjo, all zenned out, enjoys a little treehugging while waiting for his fave dish of chicken a la king
I wonder why? Could it be that Panjo the tiger is not a domestic pet? Wait. Let me mull over that possibility. Sure, Goosey enjoyed delusions of making him one but, no, tigers are not meant to kept in cages in some nutter’s back garden. Or in his bedroom for that matter.
Sorry to be pious or in any way paraat - or to spoil the sport of the media and those on Twitter and facebook who are having a field day with the elusive Panjo – but tigers belong in the wild. Duh. And if that’s not possible – and we humans have made it so – then in a proper facility where wild animals like Panjo can be looked after in the best possible way.
I don’t want to give others who live on Planet Goosey any bright ideas but would you keep a Great White shark in your swimming-pool? Would you keep an elephant in your TV room? Not if you wanted a decent view of The Animal Planet, you wouldn’t. Oh, never mind.
So, you chorus, Goosey brought Panjo up from when he was a cute little tiger cub. Sweet little pussycat. Oh, that’s OK then. They don’t grow very big. They don’t grow to have aggressive instincts. Just like Siamese cats, really. In fact, Goosey says so. And he should know. “Panjo’s very tame and won’t attack anybody,” said Panjo’s “owner”.
it gets better. While Panjo has everybody guessing about whether he’s snacking on a herdboy in Limpopo or dining on a Japanese tour group in Mpumalanga, Goosey comes up with this helpful hint: “Whoever sees Panjo must point a stick at him and say ‘no’, or offer him a chicken.”
Well, I’ll be blowed. I think we need a little more information than that. Like, does Panjo like his chicken mildly spiced or does he prefer it done simply with just a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprig of parsley? And, if he says “I didn’t order that. Take it back to the chef and tell him to do it again or I’ll eat both of you”, do I just point my stick at him and say “No”?
I don’t know. Look. I might be wrong but I think nature’s beasts deserve to be kept away from dangerous humans like Goosey. They deserve some respect. And some dignity. And to be given their space.
Maybe, instead of being held captive under the supervision of good old Goosey, all tigers, alien to South Africa nogal, should be kept at John Varty’s Tiger Canyons set-up. None of his tigers, bred responsibly in captivity to boost dwindling population numbers, have been spotted at the roadside begging for chicken a la king. Or begging to be shot by some hunter idiot.
Tigerbomb, believed to be the only white tiger born in the wild, with her mother Julie at Tiger Canyons Pic: Daryl Balfour
Now that’s more like it. Would somebody please shoot Goosey Fernandes. And all of the other ignoramuses who keep wild animals captive as some sort of macho extension of themselves. Thank you.
You’ll remember, dear Hatpeople, that I told you about that Daily Telegraph travel writer Charlie Starmer-Smith, a plonker of the highest order, who went into a lion’s enclosure for the first time, was spoiling his undies, got a bit reactive and got his leg chomped.
While the vet was stitching him up, Clever Charlie laughed, said “how cool is this?” and added that he couldn’t wait to get back to London to show off his scar to his chums. Epic twitness.
Then I published some photographs of veteran wildlife photographer Daryl Balfour, now officially appointed Wildlife Correspondent for Hatman Mansions, who adopted a live tiger to use as a backpack while snapping away at a new litter of stripey big cats at John Varty’s Tiger Canyons tiger conservation project. Balfour knows what he is doing. I’m more than fine with that.
Then there’s Kevin Richardson. I’m not quite sure how to describe what he does. Best you take a look yourself…
Riiiight. How was that? No scaredycatness there, huh? No. But all of us can see that Kev knows his lions from his, um, y’know the ones that women of a certain age keep lying on top of their sofas at home and call Tweetiepie or Cassandra or whatever.
He’s taken the time to get to know his pride of lions at a safari park near Johannesburg. In return, they have got used to his crazy vibe and have made some allowances for their nutty playmate. They are getting along quite nicely, hey? It’s like the rest of us should take the trouble to get to know members of the opposite gender before letting them move their toothbrush and stuff into our pads. Otherwise we might wake up to a severe mauling. Just ask me. But some other time.
Let’s move along very swiftly. Kevin, an animal behaviourist, is, like me, aware of the dangers of going in where most men should fear to play. He says: “If they killed me, it would just be one of those things. If I could come back after dying I’d do it all over again.”
With a vibe as lekker as that, what lion could deny him a little play-play, hey?
Newly-appointed Hatman Mansions wildlife correspondent Daryl Balfour has got off to a start of no little brilliantness.
He goes off to photograph tigers in the Free State… What? No, not lions. Not leopards. Not cheetahs. Tigers. What? They don’t live in Africa, you say? Well done. But they do now. I’ll tell you how tigers wound up in South Africa a little later.
First, I’d like you to fix your eyes on these very entertaining pics of Daryl photographing tigers in the Philippolis area of the Free State. Kind of behind-the-scenes images, we’ll call them.
Our man Balfour, a true fashion leader, wears a live tiger while on the shoot. Our Hatman Mansions fashion writer tells me that using live animals as backpacks is going to be BIG on the catwalks of Europe in 2010. You read it here first.
I like that. Wouldn’t wear one myself but then I’m not the trendy type. Looks good on our wildlife correspondent though. OK. Buckle up for the next baby!
"Leap," said Daryl and, on cue, the tiger (using a type of acting I invented some years ago and called "Method") duly leapt into the frame. OK, pork overload there but still a pic of epic kiffness, hey?
Look. I’m not exactly sure what happened half a second after this previous pic was taken but Balfour personally e-mailed it to me so he must still be alive. He is, however, known for having nearly died a good few years ago after being trampled by a huge bull elephant which charged him while he was snapping away. And, yes, he continued to photograph the charge… which is exactly what I expect of my wildlife correspondent. Still, Daryl seems to remain on good terms with the tuskers, as evidenced by this cute little snap coming right up…
Everybody say "Aaaah!" Nice, hey? Apparently the "three-trunk treatment" is excellent for skin exfoliation as well as being far preferable to the "trampoline treatment"!
Good work, Mr Balfour. Now. the pics of the tigers were taken at John Varty’s place, Tiger Canyons, where he runs a tiger conservation project. Numbers of tigers are dwindling in their natural habitats in Asia and the population at Tiger Canyons is apparently the only one that is on the increase… in the world.
Not only that but a white tiger cub was born there a couple of weeks ago, believed to be possibly the only one on the entire planet, and Daryl photographed the birth of the litter of five cubs. These highly stunning images can be viewed on John Varty\’s website. An extensive portfolio of Daryl and Sharna Balfour’s magnificent wildlife photography can be enjoyed by popping along to their amazing site. This is an online wildlife safari not to be missed. Enjoy. And don’t forget to wear your uber-trendy live tiger backpack so that you’re sure to stand out!