Namibian Hunting Outfitter Linked to SA Wildlife Scam

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    Namibian Hunting Outfitter Linked to SA Wildlife Scam

    TRACKS leading to what is being described as the biggest case of wildlife violations in South Africa's history may be traced back to Namibia.

    At the centre of the alleged wildlife scam is Barry Burchell, owner of the Eastern Cape hunting outfit Frontier Safaris.

    Barry Burchell of Frontier Safaris, who is alleged to have regularly brought hunting clients to two farms he owns in Namibia, has been at the centre of a major international investigation into cross-border trophy smuggling since 2009.

    According to sources, the investigation has been closed and a docket has been sent to South Africa's Prosecutor General for a decision on whether to prosecute Burchell.

    Yesterday, an official at the South African Department of Economic Affairs and Environmental Affairs (Dedea) confirmed that the investigation is done.

    "The docket will be sent to the Prosecutor General in the next week. We will see what they decide then," the source said.

    The investigation into Frontier Safaris and Barry Burchell focused on animal trophies hunted in Namibia and in South Africa and shipped to hunting clients in the United States.

    Questions were initially raised in 2009 about the transport of the raw animal trophies to South Africa, the processing and the way in which Burchell shipped them back to clients.

    The details of the wildlife violations are unclear, but claims have been made by former business partners that Burchell doctored labels and documentation related to the transportation of trophies.

    Ben Bytell, Director of Parks and Wildlife Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, last week confirmed that Namibian authorities assisted investigators to determine if Burchell was guilty of irregularities on Namibian soil.

    "He has two hunting farms here where he hunted with clients. Then he would transport the trophies to South Africa to his taxidermist business. The trophies were processed there". Beytell said that the hunting done by professional hunters on behalf of Burchell in Namibia was done with "valid permits ... our investigation could not uncover any evidence of fraud on this side", he said.

    Since 2009, several trophies have been confiscated by United States Fish and Wildlife authorities in a bid to uncover Burchell's alleged fraud.

    According to several hunters in the US, their trophies were confiscated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service due to incorrect labelling that were allegedly intended to disguise the fact that many of the animals were shot in Namibia and not in SA, as claimed by Burchell.

    In Namibia, Burchell's reputation has taken a beating in the past year, especially in view of the fact that his alleged criminal activities are "bad for Namibia's reputation as a hunting destination", according to a Namibian hunter.

    The investigation is independent of an ongoing N$12 million defamation lawsuit Burchell has brought against a former business partner, Scott Anglin, a Texan.

    Anglin retaliated towards the end of last year however, when he filed a lawsuit against Burchell and Cabela's Outdoor Adventures (COA), a major booking agent that worked closely with Burchell for almost ten years.

    In his affidavit, filed in December 2010, Anglin accused Burchell of breaking hunting, conservation and export-import laws of Namibia, South Africa and the United States. Anglin stated that Burchell "knowingly, continuously and regularly" violated game regulatory laws of South Africa, and he alleged, of Namibia.


    Source: The Namibian

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