What are the (legal) obligations of South Africa outfitter to client in Zimbabwe?
We are continuing to undergo heartbreak and disappointment regarding our 2011 hunt in Zimbabwe. We were taken aback by a recent email from our outfitter and now want to know from those of you who are in the know, what the outfitters obligations are. The situation is as follows:
We hunted in north Zim Aug 2011 with an outfitter we used the year prior (a whole other story) from South Africa. The hunt was one unimaginable event after another (again a whole other story). At the end of the hunt between Jamie's hunting partner and himself, they got several trophies- one of which was an elephant Jamie shot. All of the trophy fees and daily rates were paid in entirety to our outfitter before we left the States for our hunt. After the hunt the outfitter left camp to pay the Zim people and we trusted (mistake) that he would take care of it correctly. After all, this was not this outfitter's first hunt in Zim by his admission.
After we returned from our hunt we began contacting the outfitter regarding the status of our trophies and he would not return emails or answer our calls. We were still in contact with our SA PH at this time and months later he informed us that our outfitter did not make sure the money was put into the bank at the time of payment but instead did a "parking lot" transaction with them and assumed they would do right by him. He was wrong. The money was not put into the bank and therefore the trophies could not leave the country. The Zim PH we used up there during our hunt died several months after our hunt and this along with several other factors increased the difficulty of the situation.
Fast forward to present. Our SA PH now won't talk to us (yet another long story) and now our outfitter has come out of the woodwork to email us to say he has been trying hard to get these trophies but that we broke our contract with him by hunting with this SA PH on our own the following year (2012) without this outfitter (himself). This was the first we heard that they were in partnership over the Zim hunt as we paid all fees to the outfitter. Basically the outfitter is mad that he was cut out of our current hunt. This brings me to the legal question in this issue. This outfitter says he is willing to continue pursuing getting our trophies but we will need to pay him a daily rate plus expenses to do so. He specifically said that his obligations to us were finished.
One could speak forever on the implications of this email but we have mentally and emotionally exhausted ourselves over the years with that. We know now that we should not have trusted this SA outfitter to hunt in Zim (which he said he had done many times before). Right now we just want to know the legal obligations this outfitter has to us since we paid him the money and did not receive what we paid for.
BTW- we are highly suspicious of the fact this outfitter is scrambling to cover his tracks because our hunting partner spoke with someone from Zim at a recent show and she asked for this outfitter's contact information to attempt to do something on our behalf. We think now he is simply responding to the pressure he is now feeling- whatever that may be. We had animals we got on his property in SA that same hunt which mysteriously just weeks ago he decided to bring to an exporter (18 months after the hunt). This email we just received from the outfitter is the first contact we've had with him since our hunt Aug 2011.
Thanks for your input,
Need to hire/need help with getting SA trophies
As many of you know we had many problems with our recent hunting experience and I'm looking for some help in getting our trophies. We hunted in SA this past summer and paid our PH, who was also our outfitter for this trip. We had serious problems with our previous outfitter and were excited to now have a hunt without him and instead use the PH we've had the previous 2 years. Our PH told us he has an outfitter's license or was legal to provide these hunts. We paid him in entirety for our daily rates and trophy fees before we left for our trip. After not receiving our trophies last year from Zimbabwe due to payment issues our outfitter had made with the land owners, we knew the importance of making sure things were paid before we left each concession so I either saw or asked our PH at each location if each one was paid before we left and he assured me they were. We had an unbelievable great hunt with 15 animals, including a lion. At the end of the hunt we actually had some credit with our PH that we planned to use toward the dip/pack and exporting fees, which he agreed upon.
One of the places we hunted contacted me a few months ago and stated that our trophies were still sitting there and they had not been paid. They also said our PH refused to communicate with them regarding this. We pressed our PH who finally admitted that he hadn't paid them but that he would soon. We asked him to ship the rest of our animals that he had in his possession (he is also a taxidermist). He said he would. We knew he had most of them because they were in the truck with us when we left the hunting areas. We thought that if he realized we knew about the money problem he would then have no reason not to ship what we knew he had in his possession.
It has now been a few months and he now won't speak to us. Up until recently we had been talking to him at least weekly. In fact he even came to stay with us in the States for a week last fall after our hunt. This was a huge betrayal for us.
We are wondering how we can get some help to get the trophies he has at his residence (also the taxidermy) and what can be done about the other trophies they will not release without payment, interest and lodging fees- including our PH's lodging. Again we had already paid our PH for all of these fees. Is there some kind of an REPUTABLE outfit that helps retrieve trophies as a business?