Economy destroying the hunting industry in South Africa.

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Frederik, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this post but I just cannot go to bed tonight without voicing my concerns.

    I hunt for a living I have worked my arse off to get to where I am today so that I can earn a living from it and take care of my family.

    The text below is copied from an earlier post from the forum and this is in no way an attack to the poster just the post that flipped my lid !

    I own a private game reserve in the Eastern Cape which is six thousand hectares.I am looking for keen hunters to do some culling.
    I can offer you the following
    Eland
    springbok
    impala
    blue wildebeest
    black wildebeest
    warthogs
    blesbok
    baboons
    Due to the fact that the farm is not a business in the strictest sense [i am not trying to make a profit]I am able to offer a 5star experience at a reasonably low cost.
    Included in any deal is
    transfers from East London
    luxury accomodation
    all food and drinks .
    The use of my professional hunter and his gun if required .
    I am happy to do this at a cost of $300 per day.

    the large animals would be $130 each and the smaller ones $75.


    With today’s current exchange rate
    Larger animals at $130 = R936
    Smaller ones $75 = R540

    I’m sorry but those prices are a joke not even our local hunters can hunt that cheap. As the poster states he is not in it for the money.

    But what is considered large gemsbuck, kudu, wildebeest ?
    And the smaller ones springbuck, blesbuck impala ?

    The $300 day rate sounds reasonable but that has to cover the accommodation meals transport PH and staff. So there is basically no money in it as well.

    We spend a fortune on marketing going overseas each year we are lucky and probably hunt for 8-9 Months of the year but we still need to pay staff vehicle running cost over the months we don’t hunt. We have to try and keep ahead of the pack and improve our service all the time to keep on top we have to work with farmers who thinks just because we charge Dollars we make millions we have no weekends, days off or overtime when we hunt with a client he gets our attention and commitment 100% of his hunt duration he might go home tired but when we drop him off we have a very good chance of picking up the next client.

    I was away from home 220 days last year and now with the current economy and people trying to stay afloat there is deals coming trough that are just unbelievable and any experienced safari hunter knows how the hell can they make any money on it. It’s a cut throat business yes and deceit and back stabbing is very common in our industry because of the fight over the almighty hunter and his dollars but if this keeps on we will loose the “Professional” in the term Professional hunter and it will become hunting guide as only the few who own game farms will be able to provide hunting to foreigners. Guides not hunting full time but part time and not dependent on that income solely.

    This is not an attack to owners as well but as a person who doesn’t own his own game farm have to deal with farmers to come with a compromise to try and give the best quality hunt at an affordable price to my client.

    Hunting is my life's passion I will die inside if I have to loose it.

    Thanks for reading my Rant.
  2. Rastaman

    Rastaman AH Veteran

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    Your frustration sounds much like the capitalism vs. socialism debate. As demand decreases due to the economy it allows the industry to become more competitive. The safari industry has greatly benefitted from the years of economic growth and has expanded greatly. Think about the number of operations that are around now compared to ten years ago. Now the contraction threatens to eliminate those who cannot become more competitive and make the operations less profitable for those who survive. This is a correct correlation to the free market.
    What I hear you suggesting is a price fixing scenario or even that someone should not be allowed to offer prices lower than the market. This is socialistic logic. The industry needs to contract and those who cant cut it need to fail and go back to their former occupations. These are hard words but it is how capitalism works. The result is efficiency and a price that is affordable for the consumer.
    Of course, everyone wants the good ole days to return where there is plenty of extra cash and room in the budget for hunting trips but that is not where we are. The Zimabwe parks system is illustrating this same failed logic. In the 2010 auctions they set minimum limits based on the highest bids acheived the year before. Well, this works for ever increasing years but has now resulted in minimums that are unobtainable. Of course, as a quasi-government entity, they can afford not to sell this year.
    Like your post, this is not an attack on you. The post you mentioned offers an attractive price point but it obviously indicates some quality concerns. People will still pay more for quality but the gap is smaller.
  3. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    Rastaman . . . although a harsh reality you make your point well. That's the reality of capitalism in a nutshell. And it certainly applies to not only the safari industry, the same reality applies to the rest of us who compete within the business community. One needs a solid plan to survive long term in the competative business world. It's that way for all of us.
  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Frederik, don't beat yourself up too much...there is no way this deal lasts long. The guys that run a quality operation can't cut costs without doing a lot of changes.

    I think cull hunts are fine and dandy...and a lot of Americans hunt that way over here in the U.S. . Meat is meat....is my saying. It's not my cup of tea. Sure everyone likes to hunt. But I won't go to Africa just to do cull hunts. It's not my thing. And yes, that outfit offered trophy animals too. But how many springbok, wildebeest...etc. can you kill before it gets to be too bloody.

    At the end of the day I wouldn't worry about it. Most people come to Africa to hunt big kudu and cape buffalo.
  5. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Cull hunts, well, some might go for that, but not those of us who take our hunting seriously.

    I have planned my next two safaris (if my economy allows it), and plan on shooting just three animals in each, which I expect to be good trophies.

    Of course I do not expect that from a "cut throat" operator, but from my trusted Outfitter.
  6. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Frederik,
    I agree with enysse here, but, I will take it to the next level. I own a small Concrete (flatwork) company in the midwest and during this economy I have seen ALOT of fly by night concrete outfits fall by the wayside. These are unemployed union workers just trying to supplement there unemployment, which I can't fault them for that, but, they fail plain and simple because they are not trying to make a name for themselves, they are just trying to make a buck (money).
    You, me and everyone else who bust thier arse making a reputable name for themselves will thrive once this global economic crash crap is over. I say this because the way to solve this economical crash thing is for us to currency circulating, ask any economist, regardless of country of origin. Back to my point, You and all the other proffesional outfitters, who are honest and provide quality hunts at a reasonable price, (not CHEAP OR NEXT TO NOTHING), but, reasonable pricing for quality animals, you guys are the names people are going to remember. Case in point if I poured concrete for you and I just charged you the price of materials, you would love it, but, if the quality of my product was less than par you would'nt be to happy. Then you need more concrete a couple of months later and figure for the price you can do without the quality, you call me up only to find out I have gone out of business because I wasn't making any money. Just a comparison.
    My main point here is you just do what you do best, provide a good hunt for a good price, and once this economic crunch is over you and your business will thrive. Thanks, Scott

    Got on my soapbox didn't I, sorry but, that's my two cents.
  7. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Big5 and Rastaman,

    I think some of my points was misunderstood I understand Capitalism maybe not all the in's and outs but you must think in the longer run and future if game is sold below market value it means that game itself looses any benefit it has had over cattle and sheep for example the reason why South Africa have so much game and game farms is exactly for that farmers changed their cattle farms into game over the years making the same or a better profit.

    Game was thriving and it came to a point that there is more game in South Africa than there ever was before anyone settled Africa !
    If game looses it's value in any African country it gets destroyed as an easy source on food/protein Kenya for example when they banned hunting have lost 60% of their wildlife since the 80's.

    That my friends are what I'm scared off because that will be the end of the hunting industry!
  8. hunting

    hunting AH Enthusiast

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    AMEN brothers nothing more i can say.
  9. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Frederik,
    I really have to disagree,for one reason, please don't get offended, Africa and it's animals have always had a place in every true hunters heart. If you ask anyone who has hunted abroad, I would venture to say that most would reply they loved Africa best. I have not been to Africa yet, but soon will be, everyone I know here who has been say's they can't wait to go back, whether plains game or DG, it really does'nt seem to matter, it's the country and all of it's spledor. So you have a commodity that no other country has, it's wildlife. As I stated before, you guys that are busting your arse, and creating a good name for yourselves, hang in there and don't give up, we are all feeling the global effect, but the strong will survive.
  10. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    35bore, That wildlife commodity cannot sustain itself when animals don't have any value its a concept that is not easy accepted especially where people like you dont pay for animals hunted in your own country unless hunting them on a stocked farm.

    For example at R540 for a 40kg blesbuck carcass chickens have more value pound for pound if you can understand that.

    Except for that our running costs in fuel only, normally bypass our accomodation fees sitting now at $4.62 per gallon of fuel. This for a country where minimum wage is less than $7 per day.

    So if I had a game farm and game was selling at those low prices I would rather farm with chickens as I will make more money on them. And that is the point I was trying to make if more and more people are selling game under their market value we will loose those game farms as quickly as it started to grow from the 80's
  11. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    Good day Gentleman

    Let’s look at the facts here they are harsh and quite frankly there would be no simple solution but here is how I see it.

    First and foremost I am a farmer, Outfitter and PH is very much a secondary thing since the first objective would be to farm with game and ensure that I run a business that will put me in to the position to keep my farm.

    Running a game farming business involves all dimensions, not just simply the PH and Outfitter element.

    The way I see it, is as follows:

    Ø In the first instance: South Africa operates as a democracy embracing the principles of capitalism, freedom of association and all those lovely things associated with it. None of us can change that. (The fact that the ruling party is committed to convert SA to a socialist dispensation is a topic for another day and a another forum).
    Ø A game farm business (like any other business) has to consider all the factors and responsibilities involved in running a sustainable business, inter alia:

    o The capital investment in establishing the farm, lodge, general infrastructure and game breeding herds
    o The operating capital required to exercise decent land management practices, maintaining international (quality) accommodation
    o The responsibility and cost as employer to provide quality employment and to ensure compliance to provisions of our Labour Relations Act (rated as one of the most progressive ones in the world).
    o The risk and exposure associated to ecological, agricultural, climatic, economical, social and political considerations.

    Ø Other role players (i.e. non-land owning/impendent PH’s, Outfitters, Agents, game capturers etc) in the “industry” do not necessarily have any of the above factors to consider (if it is the case, then the level if investment, operating capital, running cost and risk is at a far lower level)

    Gentleman as with any supply chain all around the world you get the producer (game farmer) supplier(all the middle men) and then the consumer (client).

    It would be up to you to decide where you fall in this particular model.

    Being a full time game farmer, Hunitng Outfitter and PH I am totally reliant on the hunting industry to generate an income, I also have to limit the numbers of hunters on my land as well as on my neighbouring concession.

    This leads to one having to manage the game at your disposal extremely effectively, you can’t make a mistake and shoot two young kudu bulls and just move on the next farmer you are dependent on you land.
    With regards to the cull hunt well it is simple Tom does not live on his farm nor is he reliant on generating an income only out of hunting so if he can just generate a bit of money to prevent him from constantly paying in he would be happy, but there is another side to the coin here. Should he have too much game on his land (and from what I can gather this is the case) he will have the following questions:

    For how long can I keep feeding the game without it bankrupting me? Is it not a better thing to take the numbers down immediately and I don’t need to carry the costs of feeding so much?

    What happens in a drought do I simply lose all my game remember then he does not get one cents for the game that dies.

    How can I generate a income on my farm to keep my camp staff, maintain my property please bear in mind he will be very lucky if he just breaks even costs vs. income.

    So for this reason I can understand the offer but as mentioned this is a cull hunt not a trophy hunt and by even doing cull hunting on those prices on a yearly basis there is no doubt in my mind that there will not be one animal left it is simply not sustainable?

    Also note the offer is limited so I am sure Tom has no intention of decimating his entire game farm.

    We can also look at this offer in a positive way by saying more, and more people will discover the beauty of Africa those that can afford to trophy hunt and do it properly will always be prepared to pay for it but cull options also open up the door to clients who would not have been able to afford hunting Africa in the past.

    So in short yes the change is hurting a lot and there will be people who would unfortunately have to close down but in the long run I think hunting will grow and it will become a lot more accessible to clients of all income brackets.

    Sorry for the painful truth……..

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
  12. Rastaman

    Rastaman AH Veteran

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    This has been a great discussion. Frederick, you are right about the loss of value issue. This is the flaw at the heart of pure preservation approaches like we see in Kenya. I cant say much more about this, or any better, than Mr. Ruark.
    However, that is really not the same issue identified in your original rant, which is your concern of being out priced and put out of business. Even if this happens, the game will still have value, you just will not be around to receive the benefit of such. In the end, an operation will take your place at the new lower value.

    Finally, and this is best illustrated by the real life example of 35 bore and the comments of others. Dont try to compete in price with a lower quality product. I would never buy a cull hunt. In fact, it would be a major delimma for me as to whether I would even take time off from work and family to fly over if someone offered this opportunity for free. some people feel diifferently and there is nothing wrong with that. So, to that regard, your competition can best be seen as in brackets. Those shopping in the cull bracket only are not your customers. Your customers are not shopping in that bracket so you dont need to compete as to price. I love to hunt buffalo and elephant, but cant really afford elephant. So, I spend my time looking in those two brackets.
    Again, thanks to everyone for this discussion.
  13. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    You guys are awesome...it brought me great pleasure in reading the forums today!

    I really like Rastaman's last post....he hit the nail on the head square!

    Everyone's made you terrific points. And you can tell how much Louis and Frederik love wildlife and wildlife conservation! Louis take on cull hunts on Tom's property is spot on target. 35 Bore made great comments on how to run a business correctly.

    In the end, I'm like Rastaman, I'm not going to take time away from my family and hard earned money to go on a cull hunt. Now if I shoot a cull animal here and there on a "trophy hunt...meaning we are hunting for a mature animal...the proper and right animal" then cull hunting gives you practice for hunting other animals. And truth be told, even I get rusty. And shooting does give you the necessary skills..practice makes perfect. And I know plenty of young and old hunters..that don't care about wildlife management they just want to hunt! And culling in Africa will do that for a person.

    I go to bed at night dreaming of leopard hunting, the sable, the bongo and all the other great animals of Africa! Not cull hunting.
  14. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    Louis. . . yes, there is a painful truth to it all. Yet I find your post to be an excellent response to Frederick's present concerns and to the concerns of anyone who is engaged in operating a business. The core principles contained in your post apply to all businesses whether they are product based, service based, manufacturing based, farming or any combination thereof. Quite simply, your post is a well articulated lesson in basic 'Business 101'.
  15. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Double post
  16. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Thank you all I will be sleeping much better tonight from this post I have learned that people still look at hunting properly and with quality.

    Sorry but it just seemed that there were too many deals out there way below norm.
  17. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    Frederik . . . from your many posts to this forum it's obvious that you are a man of principle and determination. I am therefore betting in the long run all things will turn out fine for you and the hunting industry in general.
  18. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    Thank you Big5.

    Frederik hang in there things will turn around, in the end quality will always outweigh quantity simple fact.;)

    Good luck and sleep well for tomorrow we live to fight another day!:thumb:

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
  19. andriesdeklerk

    andriesdeklerk AH Veteran

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    Truly a bizarre thread.
    As a local I think it being really expensive to shoot something at that price and not being able to take any memorabilia, not even the meat for some jerky. But I would pay that for my first whitetail or any North American game species. But with hindsight I would know this won’t be trophy quality and shooting something for the sake to say I have hunted that species will have serious shortcomings for me as a sportsman and trophy hunter. What should be mentioned in the add is the fact that you will be killing, not hunting. The quality of game will be restricted to females and maybe young males. The person posting the add is looking for suckers out there willing to pay to pull the shot and through this action saving them money on ammo and making some extra on accommodation and selling the meat. So in true they are making less than they would out of trophy's but then this won’t be trophy quality animals and secondly more money because locals won’t find it amusing paying these prices! You will be getting your monies worth when hunting with a proper operator at a competitive rate. He is a PROFESSIONAL HUNTER, this is his business and his business is to make your hunt enjoyable to the max and unforgettable. But most importantly his job is to make you longing to hunt Africa again. The mentioned add will make you miss the whole point and the experience won’t be remembered for long. Take your money and go relax in the Caribbean. But when you want to hunt the Dark Continent, well safe some extra and make it memorable!
    My two cents worth.
  20. CapeHunter

    CapeHunter AH Member

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    Hi Frederik,

    Hope you are well, I'm an Afrikaans Biltong hunter from Cape Town and will try using my best British language for this post.
    Even though I'm only a Biltong Hunter, I think I can safely say that I'm obsessed with hunting and everything that goes along with hunting. Nature, new equipment, learning new things, sustainable utilization (I'm forever fighting our cause with uninformed "Greenies" about this), making my own meat products, meeting other hunters, sitting alongside that campfire in the Bushveld or Karoo under our African sky. Most of the time I go hunt alone because my friends are not that keen and I go to the same farms, because most other farms don't want to take me in because I'm just by myself. I can understand that from their side for economic reasons. I always battle to find a hunt, cause I'm on my own. I sometimes leave Cape Town at 2 in the morning to be in the Veld at 6am somewhere in the Karoo.(My wife don't like that so much, i must add). I'm 31 now and my point is that I don't know other young city guys who feel the same about hunting. If i go with someone its normally with some of my friends dad's. So I want to get to a question I've been wondering about.
    By the way, that guy in the Eastern Cape with his specials won't have an influence on anything. Now back to your topic:".......destroying the hunting industry in SA".
    Are you guys, the farm owners, not worried about what's going to happen in 10/15/20 years time when we "run out of Biltong hunters" in SA. Something I think that can really destroy game farming and hunting in SA.
    Dr. Peet van der Merwe and Prof. Mellville Saayman from the Institute for tourism and freedom Studies numbers for study concluded for Hunting season 2008/9:
    There are 200000 Biltong hunters in SA vs 8000 trophy hunters that visited.
    Biltong hunting contributed R5000 000 000 (5Miljard in Afrikaans). Trophy hunting R973 000 000.
    The average age of Biltong hunter: 40-64!!!!
    I participated in a Hunting Rifle shoot yesterday. Probably 120 guys, average age around 45-50!!!
    All my dads friends are hunters and own a rifle, I probably have 5 or 6 friends that hunt and own a rifle.
    Fewer and fewer young guys hunt for various reasons, but I think affordability is one. Biltong hunting has become expensive.
    Are you guys worried about the long term when the current older generations starts packing away their rifles due to old age?
    In the meantime, I, as a younger hunter will continue my day dreaming about hunting every day of my life and continue to try and convert friends to hunting(maybe then I don't have to go hunt alone again) and continue to try and educate these city folk about the conservation benefits of hunting and sustainable utilization etc.
    I really respect what you guys do and go through on the farms and if it were up to me we will keep those camp fires burning for a long time still. I hope to get some insight from you guys about my question. All the best and may the winter come soon now!

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