He’s swum across crocodile-infested rivers. He’s hunted silently through dense bush alongside wild leopards. He’s been attacked by charging hippo bulls and hungry lionesses. He’s taught an orphaned lion cub how to hunt. He’s watched helplessly as the Mother Leopard, whose life he shared for twelve years, died after being mauled by lions. Nine Lives chronicles the adventures, trials, mishaps and triumphs of John Varty’s astonishing life, tracing his progression from hunter to film maker to environmentalist.
It reveals the secrets behind his close relationships with individual big cats and describes the challenges of his controversial tiger-conservation project in South Africa. It also invokes the terror of his narrow escapes from death, including charged and dangerous encounters with crocodiles and lions, and a near-fatal helicopter crash. He writes about his interaction with well-known figures such as Tina Turner, Spike Milligan, Brooke Shields and Nelson Mandela, and his relationship with TV presenter Gillian van Houten. Replete with poachers and paparazzi, Peruvian drug-smugglers and mercenaries, this is a thrilling and fascinating story.
With raw passion and vigour, John Varty has devoted his life to the natural world and has succeeded in enhancing humankind’s understanding of the complex ways of wild animals. Alternately humorous and heartbreaking, electrifying and poignant, Nine Lives is a passionate account of a life lived to the full by a man driven by an intense love of the wild.
John Varty’s love of the natural world was sparked at an early age when he accompanied his father on hunting trips in the bush. He soon gave up hunting to focus on conservation at the family game farm Londolozi, which is renowned globally for its work with leopards. He owns Londolozi Productions and has made over forty documentaries and feature films. Recognised for his groundbreaking work with big cats, today he is best known for Tiger Canyons, a reserve in the Free State where he is raising tigers in the wild as part of a tiger-conservation project.
Nine Lives: Memories of a Maverick Conservationist by John Varty