AR-News: AR NEWS: Tiger Film a Fraud, says The Chinese Tigers South African Trust

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Sat Sep 6 12:04:16 EDT 2003


http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/030906/lnsa001_1.html
Saturday September 6, 8:23 am ET 
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- This statement is being 
issued by The Chinese Tigers South African Trust, a charitable tiger 
conservation trust: 
Risking its reputation as a source of credible science programming, The 
Discovery Channel still plans to air its scheduled broadcast of Living With Tigers, 
a documentary film dogged throughout its production by accusations of fraud 
both from investors who claim they've been cheated by the filmmakers"The film 
is a fraud," declares Stuart Bray, an American-born investor whose money was 
used to make the film. "And Discovery knows it's a fraud." 
Bray and his wife, Li Quan, are the founders of Save China's Tigers, the 
UK-based charity that made international headlines last week for bringing two 
highly endangered Chinese tigers - of which there are fewer than 100 remaining 
worldwide - to South Africa for wildness training in preparation for 
reintroduction into a reserve in China to coincide with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 
Bray originally partnered with South African filmmakers Jon and Dave Varty in 
a combined effort on behalf of the Chinese tiger project, but the 
relationship ended last year when Bray and Quan discovered the Vartys had used Bray's 
money to make a film that has nothing to do with Chinese tigers -- the film 
Discovery is set to air. 
"They hijacked the project while my wife and I were in London and Beijing 
working on the charity," says Bray. 
While finances led Bray to file suit directly against the Varty brothers, his 
bigger concern is the damage that will be done to tiger conservation if the 
film airs. 
"The Vartys claim their film is about tiger conservation, but it's not," Bray 
says, adding that criminal charges will also be filed against the Vartys. 
"It's a fraud scientifically as well as legally, and unless the people who watch 
it are alerted to that fact I worry they might believe what they see." 
According to Bray, the Vartys used his money to acquire two "trash tigers" of 
an unendangered breed and no value to conservation, then proceeded to make a 
film Bray never approved. "And we've got them dead-to-rights contractually," 
Bray says. "They don't hold the rights to film those animals on that land." 
Those rights will form the basis of a $50-million lawsuit Bray says his 
lawyers will file against Discovery Communications Incorporated if the film is 
aired. 
"We have spent six months pleading with Discovery to understand this," Bray 
says. "But they're deaf. They won't talk to us anymore. They've been completely 
seduced by the Vartys and their footage." 
Beyond the legal wrangling, legitimate conservationists worldwide have 
expressed concern over the Varty brothers' cinematic attraction to tigers. 
"Manipulating animal behavior for the sake of documentary film production is 
not ethical", says award-winning South African wildlife film maker Phil 
Hattingh, "this brings into question the film techniques employed in many of Jon 
Varty's documentary film productions." 
Bray offers an example. "Li and I watched with our own eyes as the Vartys' 
film crew chased the prey up against the fence and into the path of the tigers 
just for the sake of dramatic footage. The prey had no chance. It was a canned 
hunt." 
Environmentalists from around the world are equally concerned about the 
Discovery film. "From what I've learned," says Cory Meacham, a US-based 
environmental journalist who covers tiger conservation and who was recently deposed in 
connection with the lawsuit Bray has filed against the Vartys, "the tigers in 
the film are presented as part of a legitimate tiger-conservation project but 
they're from a breed that's not endangered. If in fact that's the case, then the 
film has about as much to do with tiger conservation as a Disney cartoon." 
Meacham, whom Bray attempted to recruit last year in an effort to oust the 
Vartys, expressed surprise when informed that Discovery still plans to proceed 
with the film. "These guys might have made a pretty movie with gorgeous cats," 
Meacham says of the Vartys, "but Discovery and its viewers need to be careful 
not to get that confused with tiger conservation." 

 and from conservationists who denounce the film's content.
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