Yes, there are tigers in Africa. Lost to the continent millions of years ago, they have been brought back in a historic and unprecedented conservation effort by maverick naturalist and wildlife lover John Varty at the Tiger Canyons Project in the Karoo district of South Africa, about seven hours by road from Johannesburg, near the small town of Philippolis in the Free State.
In an ambitious plan to create a large area for conservation, Varty had originally acquired 36,000 hectares (140 square miles), which is larger than the Ranthambore National Park in India which is home to around 34 tigers at the last count in 2008. However, some of the land has fallen in dispute and the area devoted to the tigers is around 16,000 hectares (61 square miles) at present. In the next two years or so, he plans to expand the total area to over 60,000 hectares which would make it larger than the entire Sabi Sands park and about 40% of the area covered by the Masai Mara in Kenya. His final aim is to create a self-sustaining natural park for not just tigers but other cats, prey animals, scavengers, birds and other species that would provide a complete eco-system for conservation. Ultimately he hopes that the tigers would one day return to India and China where their current populations are threatened with continue poaching and loss of habitat.