Another South African Success Story?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Ricus, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. Ricus

    Ricus AH Senior Member

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    After a few encounters of late I decided to write a small article, focused on a very positive outcome on South Africa's hunting industry and the benefits now reaped from the correct combinations in conservation and hunting..

    Over the last number of years, we have all been following different stories, stigma's and varied opinions about South Africa's game industry.
    This can be a very touchy subject for many of us as true hunters and conservationists. Over the past ten to fifteen years we have seen many changes in our hunting industry, especially in South Africa, driven largely by an exploding ''live game industry''.
    Huge influences have been marked in prices of different game species. In many cases I felt that this industry grew to fast for it's own good, opening the doors for many to enter a potentially lucrative business, with very little to no knowledge of game animals, their distribution over certain parts of Africa and the reason's why; their basic well being etc. etc. Leaving behind all that could resemble ethics.
    We fell into a spiral of small game farms and fences jumping up everywhere. Smaller, more intensive, more money.. This created a stigma about hunting in South Africa in general and I believe that all of us as outfitters in South Africa could feel the difference during marketing season's in the USA and elsewhere. I feel that one of the reasons for this is that unfortunately, with the doors now wide open and ''the room'' filled with many newcomers and self made experts in what is called game farming, we now found ourselves in a hunting market where intensive breeding farms are standing on the show floor selling ''hunts'' at very affordable prices, to in most cases, unknowing customers and true hunters looking for an African safari. We have long passes the times where a good hunt in Africa is free or close to it, and this should be kept in mind when booking your hunt..
    Don't get me wrong, there are many other factor's that could also contribute to difficult sales or price fluctuations..

    I have experienced this as an outfitter looking for new hunting areas and concessions many times. Arriving at''Oom Piet'' on his farm that was advertised in a hunting magazine, offering some of the best buffalo hunting in all of Africa.. When we drive out in search for the buffalo, we have entered through three gates within the first half mile of road before arriving at the ''buffalo camp'' . As we enter the area, a glare catches my eye and I look to the right.. Behind the bush.. what is that.. maybe a lilac breasted roller??... What can be so colorful and bobbing up and down like that not afraid of our presence? Then it strikes me and the picture cleared up.. It is ''Oom Piet's'' buffalo bull herd, mostly pink and blue, but some also had large yellow tags in the ears. ''There they are, look said Oom Piet, Tag no.17 is 38 inches and 5 eight's.. When your client comes we will just tranquilize him and move him into the next camp.It is 200 acres and he will be the only bull there so you wont shoot the wrong one.."
    Or we can leave him here and you'll know by the tag number which one to ''hunt''.

    Here in lies the problem. I don't know how many hunters had to sadly endure this experience, hopefully not too many and unknowingly, but this is where things started going South for us quickly.

    Now, I said I want to focus on the success and yet I am rambling on about all the negatives, but, it is through all these negatives we had to grow to get to the success part in South Africa.

    We are blessed that there is and always will be a number of very good people and visionaries throughout this same industry. There are many land owners that found their core and their believe in looking after the animals interest as well as our guests looking for a true hunt. Looking after the ethical part of their dealings in this industry, but with the greater picture in mind.
    They realized that all the intensive breeding blocks or farms opens a huge window for the opposite. To be better, bigger with the same result in bringing back the numbers and genetics of for instance Roan and Sable antelope.

    By realizing the miss steps in the industry, the wrong doings to our reputation as a fantastic hunting destination, we were able to establish a number of very large and absolutely fantastic hunting areas. Places where you can truly come and have an African safari with a true hunt, but with the added benefit of hunting species that was once scarce with very poor genetics which are now in abundance with exceptional trophy quality.
    What made me decide to write this article, is a very beautiful 46 inch Sable bull I had the privilege guiding my client to. The animal was probably 14 or 15 years old with no more teeth, but still in relatively good shape. He was born and roaming free on 15 000 acres of land, all open and must have dodged many bullets and hunters to get to his age. A screaming example of a fantastic area, a fantastic hunt and experience for my client and a trophy of a lifetime hunted the right way, with a good number of trophies like this still out there. This is a success story in my books and this sets us apart from most other destinations..

    [​IMG]

    In my opinion South Africa is a first class hunting destination again, offering large open hunting areas with exceptional trophy quality that derived out of turbulent times with breeding and increasing trophy quality and genetics.
    With a much better ''educated'' customer base, knowing what to look for in a safari and outfitter in South Africa, we can offer a true African safari by hunting the right areas with the right land owners and outfitters that protects our industry with their ethics and love for the experience we offer at a FAIR price..
    With proper research, you can be one of the lucky hunters to experience a safari like this with complete peace of mind.

    Hope you all have a great week and happy hunting.

    Ricus de Villiers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016

  2. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Hi Ricus. First of all that is a fine sable. You and your client have every reason to be proud of it. I agree with you sentiments about true hunting. One of the reasons I have not written a hunt report for last year is that I felt that my sable in RSA was not the "hunt" that I had asked/planned/hoped for. I was also offered a nice buffalo on the same farm as the sable at a great price. I felt that it wouldn't be much of a hunt. More of a shoot. Makes me pretty skittish about an RSA buff hunt elsewhere too. Thanks for sharing. Bruce
     
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  3. firehuntfish

    firehuntfish AH Fanatic

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    I can understand your sentiment completely. However, I wouldn't be skittish about choosing an RSA buffalo hunt at all. I would replace "skittish" with being thorough and diligent in researching the outfitters than actually can offer the type of experience that you are looking for in RSA. There are several of them. In fact I'm very partial to one of them. (lol) PM me if you would like more details.

    I don't know if you are ruling out game ranch hunts altogether, but there are a handful of very reputable outfits that have huge concessions which can offer a very challenging hunt. There is also the option of hunting some truly free range buffalo up near Kruger. The biggest upside to RSA is that it will definitely offer you the best overall value. I'm sure you can find an outfit that will be able to match that value with the right experience.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016

  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Proper education of the hunters is precisely what is required. Make sure you know what you are buying and from whom.
    The number of ethical issues I have encountered with the use of "concession" and "camp" is astounding.

    An excellent trophy and it was "grown" to maturity the proper way.

    Congratulations.
     
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  5. jand

    jand AH Veteran

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    Ricus , This is truly a problem in our country as a hunting destination. Farm bred trophies. Fortunately not all of South Africa is this way. Unfortunately many of the Sable and Buffalo are . One just has to look at the advertised pictures of the animals ( probably in a breeding camp or fresh out of it ) . How else do outfitters produce these special packages ? I guess there's a demand for it , the problem lies not with the breeders but with the hunters " shooting " these animals. Always interesting how the PH's and hunters justify this -- not to talk about their agents...
    The good news is that there is still a good amount of fair chase hunting out there in South Africa. Its still the greatest hunting destination in Africa. I've just finished an Elephant and Buffalo hunt on a totally free range area in South Africa that I've been hunting for the past 12 years. It struck me how fortunate we are to be able to hunt in a true big 5 area that is properly managed and where " conservation through utilization " is practiced and where the hunting gets even better year after year. A true privilege.

    Happy hunting
     

  6. edward

    edward GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    good writing.
     
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