In Memory Of



ivienne V

Vivienne was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. She then moved to Philippolis with her family before joining Telkom SA, followed by administrative position in a firm in Bloemfontein. Returning to Philippolis, she joined Laohu Valley Reserve.

On morning of October 8th, 2016 a tragic incident occurred at the Loahu Valley Reserve near Philippolis in the Free State, South Africa, the loss of the reserve's Tiger Manager, Vivienne McKenzie by a tiger attack. The incident occurred during routine management activities at the reserve. It was necessary to put the male tiger down during the incident. The reserve is not open to the public as the tigers are being rewilded for eventual return to protected reserves in China.  


A thorough investigation was conducted of the incident and safety procedures by the reserve and relevant authorities. In a statement at the time, Reserve General Manager, Heinrich Funck said: "Our condolences go out to the family and friends for this tragic loss. I and her fellow workers are in shock and mourning for the woman who approached her work with a passion and joy. Everyone at the reserve and the Save China's Tigers charity are devastated by this, it is hard to imagine our operations without her and we will never, ever forget her vitality and personality and the important role she has played in the conservation of these endangered tigers."


The staff and management of Laohu Valley Reserve, Save China's Tigers and the China Tiger Project are placing a Memorial Plaque at the Reserve in fond memory of Vivienne.


Wildlife & nature photos by

Vivienne McKenzie

Vivienne had spent the last decade of her life to the care and protection of endangered South China tigers, the world’s most endangered tiger. Vivienne was Tiger Supervisor at the reserve that had been established in 2002 as a breeding and rewilding center for the critically endangered South China tiger which had been transported from zoos in China or bred at the reserve.


The importance of her work in saving this rare tiger cannot be underestimated. It was a mission and vocation that she once described as "a dream come true" and she did it with a vigor, diligence, enthusiasm and sense of humor that brought joy to her all her associates.


She was taken from us all too soon, but she was doing what she loved best, caring for her tigers.

We celebrate her life as passionate, dedicated and active protector of wildlife.

A Tragic Loss

PHOTO BY: VIVIENNE McKENZIE

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