AR-News: AR NEWS: Tiger Film a Fraud,
says The Chinese Tigers South African Trust
WeArPetitions at aol.com
WeArPetitions at aol.com
Sat Sep 6 12:04:16 EDT 2003
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
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
"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
"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
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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