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Wildlife figure in ICU after being clawed

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South African documentary film-maker John Varty sustained two broken ribs, lacerations to his hands and legs and puncture wounds after a tiger attacked him on his farm near Philippolis, in the Free State, on Wednesday.

He was apparently attacked while filming on his Tiger Canyons Farm, which he set up to create a free roaming tiger population outside Asia.

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Tiger Canyons, near Philippolis, South Africa: John Varty gives close contact comfort to an abandoned cub.

(Photo Credit:  © John Varty/ JV Images)Tiger Canyons, near Philippolis, South Africa: John Varty takes a break with Julie, the tigress.

(Photo Credit:  © Sunette Fourie/ JV Images)

According to Varty’s website, JV and The Big Cats, Varty went into theatre at the Bloemfontein Medi Clinic last night and was recovering. It stated that the report from the doctor was positive but Varty was expected to remain in the intensive care unit for the next three days as part of the pain management medication.

“The doctor will closely monitor his condition, which includes several puncture wounds and two broken ribs. The danger of infection will also be closely monitored.”

Varty’s brother, Dave, said that the injuries he had sustained were not as serious as they had previously thought.

“Thankfully he was not mauled. He is sedated so I have not been able to speak to him. But, I’m sure he’ll jump back into the saddle when he’s recovered fully.”

He said a tiger named Corbett was believed to have attacked his brother.

Corbett was named after the Jim Corbett National Park in India, Varty said.

“The park was named after legendary hunter-turned-conservationist, Jim Corbett, best known for hunting man-eating tigers and leopards in the Kumaon and lower Garhwal in the 1920s.”

Mediclinic spokeswoman, Amanda Appelgryn, confirmed Varty was admitted to the hospital last night.

Varty co-wrote, produced and starred in the 1992 Hollywood feature film Running Wild, which also starred Brooke Shields and Martin Sheen.

Varty founded the luxury Londolozi Game Reserve in the private Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the country’s world-famous Kruger National Park.

In 2009, John made headlines after five tiger cubs were born at Tiger Canyons.

A zoo-born tigress, rehabilitated at the reserve gave birth to the cubs, including a white tiger.

Varty had said at the time that Tiger Canyons now had more wild tigers than India’s flagship tiger reserve, Ranthambore.

His family had been hunting predators for the past 100 years.

He was also involved in a programme titled Living With Tigers, which told the story of Ron and Julie, two Bengal tiger cubs which have spent the past three years of their lives being taught to hunt and live in the wild in South Africa, although their natural habitat is Asia, and India, in particular.

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