Words: Donovan Fourie
Pics: Meghan McCabe
If we are honest, we just wanted to visit this place – 17 tigers, lions and other predators, a few centimetres from your face (or right in your face – read on). But this is a motorcycle magazine, and thus we can not simply do a story called “a day out with the cats”.
The obvious choice for this piece is a Triumph Tiger 800XCx, partially because it is a truly terrific motorcycle backed up by its silver medal in the 2015 Pirelli Bike of the Year, but mostly because it shares its name with said creatures at this sanctuary.
This brings us neatly to the conundrum that we were faced with – bike makers, and makers of other goods, are happy to give out names for these products just willy-nilly. Suzuki and Honda named their products Hayabusa and Blackbird, which are members of the feathered flying variety of creature, and yet neither of these bikes has the ability to fly, even when dropped off a cliff. Cagiva made an adventure bike called the Elephant, which was a terrible idea, because an elephant weighed twenty times more, was five times more grey and was 500 times more valuable.
Then we have the Tiger…
For starters, we have never seen a tiger on tv that was blue, like the one with which we arrived at Jugomaro on. And it had absolutely no stripes, and it wasn’t as furry, unless you counted the rider. So far, things weren’t looking good, but never judge anything purely on appearance, thus we persevered and met up with the guy in charge of the sanctuary, Justin Fernandes.
Before we carry on, let’s clear some things up – people, no doubt, will be somewhat cynical about a bunch of large cats seemingly in cages, with many shouting “these things shouldn’t be in human hands!” You are right, and the people at Jugomaro agree, however the cynics should probably pay more attention to the word “sanctuary”.
All these animals were adopted by Jugomaro as either abused or unwanted cubs, and were hand raised by Justin and his family. For the cynics using the words “re-introduce them into the wild”, you clearly know nothing about big cats. Once they are away from their mothers, they cannot be re-introduced. More so, nature reservations are already full to the brim with big cats, as are zoos and any other form of cat farm. In fact, the only people willing to take on big cats are Nazi canned hunters, which is why Jugomaro steps in and does their best.
Justin used to race in the National Supersport Championship on board a Yamaha R6, but gave it up when they started the sanctuary. If you think looking after big cats is a case of simply putting them in a cage and occasionally feeding them, you would be wrong. Justin hasn’t been on holiday for more than five years, and spends almost 24 hours a day next to their enclosures. He has even forgone common luxuries, and sleeps in a tent near the enclosures like a real wild man.
And they repay his dedication by giving him more love and affection than the most loyal dog. He can walk into any of their enclosures and they will run to him excitedly, some even give him hugs and kisses. They are genuinely his children.
But life hasn’t been all fun and games for Jugomaro – at the beginning of last year, they came under some financial difficulties, and lost their farm in Groblersdal.
Part of the “assets” incorporated into the liquidation was the cats, and, instead of letting them go, probably to canned hunter psychopaths (please forgive the tautology) Justin and crew blocked the exit of the farm so that no-one could take them out (read those three words again), and Justin managed to keep them.
The problem now was that they had nowhere to go, until a friend with a farm near Muldersdrift let them put up temporary enclosures while they figured out their next move, which is where they are now. Things are underway, and they are looking for land as we speak (or type), but they are in need of support, especially for food and supplies for the enclosures. Please take a look at the details at the end of this story.
Back to the serious business – while we feel for these animals, especially the tigers, we are afraid that we have to announce that they do not stand up too well against the Tiger of the Triumph variety. While the tiger is better at having fur and savaging throats, apart from that it has little other advantages. The fuel consumption is a nightmare – an adult tiger will eat around 6kg of beef every day which, if The Butcher Shop is to be believed, is around R1000 a sitting, which is a good deal more than the R230-odd it would take to fill the Triumph’s tank, and it is very unlikely that anyone would use a tank every day. The biggest tiger at Jugomaro is a Siberian named Fido that weighs nearly 400kg (think about that for a moment – the biggest dog you have ever seen was probably 80kg), which is a good deal more than the Tiger’s meagre 221kg.
As far as emissions go, the Triumph complies with Euro3, which means that the only thing that comes out of its exhaust is little fairies in pink tutus, whereas the remains that the one tiger in particular left made flies drop out of the sky and roll on the floor. The top speed of the tiger is 80 km/h, and it can only maintain that speed for a few seconds before it starts running lean, whereas the Tiger can do 220km/h, and can maintain that through the Free State all day, even with a line of blue lights acting as groupies. The tiger wins in the suspension department, though, with four wheel drive and great traction and handling corners on dirt.
The price that hunters are charging to shoot a Tiger goes as high as R1.5 million, whereas the Triumph costs a frugal R140,000.
So, as we can see clearly here, the Triumph has usurped the tiger, or the animal formally known as the tiger, and is clearly a better all round animal, which makes the plight of these cats even more difficult to bear – not only are they short on food, supplies and land, but now they can no longer be called tigers.
Please please please take a look at the Jugomaro Predator Sanctuary on Facebook and give them a like. More so, please make a donation or, if you have building supplies or goods that you don’t need, maybe they can use them. They are good people, and they have given their whole lives to these animals. Herewith the details:
Tel: 082 558 0703