SAFETY IN (SMALL) NUMBERS: WHY NAMIBIA IS THE IDEAL POST-COVID TRAVEL DESTINATION.
By Le Roux van Schalkwyk
Gone are the days of masses of tourists rubbing shoulders to see the Colosseum in Rome or bumping into each other while exploring La Rambla in Barcelona. The new normal will be destinations where social distancing is easy and where a sense of safety is paramount because let’s face it, no one wants to be on holiday while simultaneously stressed about well-being.
Having reached the halfway point of 2020, the entire world has its collective fingers crossed that the second half of the year will be considerably better than the first. It seems that each month has brought a new challenge, with the dark cloud of COVID-19 being the only constant. The only certainty in a year brimming with uncertainties. As I’m writing this, Namibia is one of few countries globally with less than 50 COVID cases, mostly thanks to our government’s progressive approach and rapid response to tackling the crisis.
With certain countries slowly opening their borders again and more planning to follow suit later, they are hoping to resuscitate a tourism industry that has been ravaged by the unprecedented state the planet has found itself in. It will be interesting to see how travel and tourism will change in a post-COVID world. Whereas before travellers chose destinations according to affordability etc. tons of additional factors are sure to come into play when people plan their next trip abroad. COVID-safe destinations will definitely be one of the main considerations – this is where Namibia has (and always had) one of the biggest competitive advantages: space. Loads of space!
With a population of around 2.5 million people (equivalent to 0.03% of the total world population), Namibia is well-known for being one of the least densely populated countries. Its population density is just under three people per square kilometre, second only to Mongolia. To put that in perspective, the earth’s population density is currently 50 people sharing each square kilometre. In comparison, Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest population densities at 7140 people/km2, in Europe a country like Germany has 240 people/km2, while neighbouring South Africa is on par with the world’s average at 49 people/km2.
Namibians are also not spread out equally as 40% of the inhabitants can be found in the extreme north-central area along the border with Angola. Furthermore, just over 50% of the country’s total population lives in urban centres. This means that out of a total area of 824,292km2 and a population localised to certain centres, there is ample space for social distancing.
Space is by no means the only selling card of Namibia. If you are reading this you have without a doubt seen the natural wonders and beautiful scenery the country has to offer. Space has and is one of the most valuable commodities that enhances any visit. What makes travellers venture deep into the Namib, the oldest desert in the world, is that sense of place. The experience of having an unbroken 360-degree view of some of the most picturesque landscapes on this earth has healing power like no other, sorely needed in these times we live in.
Couch planning your next trip for when travelling is allowed again? Skip the crowds and rather opt for the ample expanses, endless vistas, clear blue skies and healthy fresh air of Namibia. We can’t wait to welcome you when the time is right to travel again.
I am a third-generation Rhodesian, born in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia in 1954.
My Oupa (grandfather) was born in Cradock in the Eastern Cape in 1889. He, at the age of five or six years old, trekked with his family, on the Steyn Trek to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to live. This trek with ox wagons took six years to complete with many adventures along the way. They settled in the Melsetter region, in eastern Rhodesia. My Ouma (grandmother) came from the same area, being the first white baby girl to be born there in a portion of the area called Steynsbank. This is where my Oupa and Ouma met, and later married. The rest of my immediate family was born in then Umtali, except for my younger brother, who was born in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). My brothers both currently live in South Africa. My parents have both moved on to a better life, but not forgotten.
I am married to my lovely wife Rose, born in Bulawayo, in Southern Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe). We have been married 34 years. I have one stepdaughter, Tracey, four grandchildren and currently have two great grandchildren. Sadly, we lost one of our grandsons in a vehicle accident 14 months ago.
How did you get into hunting and become a PH?
I can say my passion for hunting began at a young age, when my older brother and I used to frequently accompany both my Oupa and Dad hunting for the pot on my Oupa’s farm 20 km south of Umtali. The main meat supply was duiker, reedbuck and occasionally kudu. When I was 12, we brothers were given the OK to conduct these meat hunts on our own, which was naturally just every boy’s dream. I used to sit in awe and listen to my father’s many hunting stories when he and his great friend hunted in the Sabe Valley. There were two stories that remain etched in my head, one being of his eland hunting days, when they shot eland from horseback with an old military .45 Webley Revolver, and the other being when he was nearly killed by a wounded roan and saved by his trusted tracker. I guess, this is how and when the hunting bug bit me.
It was, however, not for a very long time that I was able to pursue my childhood dreams of being a hunter – not a professional hunter, as I had never heard of that profession as a child. I just wanted to hunt and spend as much time as I could in the bush. The love of the bush and hunting for self-subsistence was my dream. The PH side of this life only came to the fore at a much later stage, when professional hunting and hunting safaris kind of took off in earnest in the late 60s.
All my dreams were put on the backburner for quite some time, as I had to finish my schooling and a little while later, unbeknown to me and thousands of other young men, we were destined to be enlisted to fight in a war on home soil to protect our sovereignty of Ian Smith’s 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence. I joined the military in 1973 and remained with the army until 1980, which was when the war abruptly ended. It was then that my desire to become a PH was rekindled.
With whom did you apprentice?
I was very fortunate to apply and be accepted for apprenticeship training with well-known dangerous-game PH Fred Rademeyer, owner of Chete Safaris. He is certainly a legend of his era in the hunting industry, and achieved many great accolades throughout his colorful life as a PH. I could not have wished for a better mentor: Uncompromising, knowledgeable, tough as nails and, most of all, now a great and respected friend of mine.
What was the most important thing you learned during those early years?
I learnt very early on from my green years in this hunting industry, that nothing comes easy. One definitely has to start at rock bottom, be prepared to grind it out, and to endure all the hardships in those apprentice years. Many a night I was left thinking and doubting my chosen career, but the future far outweighed the present, so I continued to tough it out. I was confident that I had the mental capacity and resolve to see this through, as I was then in my late 20s, mature, and had been through and experienced many personal hardships, both mentally and physically during the bush war. That period had certainly stood me in good stead to pursue and enjoy this way of life/career hopefully, long into the future.
That was 37 years ago, and I’m still loving each and every day I am out hunting. I learnt that honesty, hard work, making many difficult judgement calls, mistakes – and being able to learn from those mistakes – was of paramount importance in moving forward. Humility was another trait that was taught to me, as hunting, always at some stage, will bring you back to earth with a bang when you least expect it.
One last point that I constantly remind myself of while hunting, is that no matter what the animal, no two hunts are ever the same, and one needs to tackle each hunt on its merit. As the saying goes, “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” It was taught to me early on that the hunt is not about me, it’s about, and for, the client. It is imperative to strive to do everything possible to have the client enjoy the hunt. To share your bush knowledge with the client; teach him interesting topics about the fauna and flora; keep the days interesting and informative, especially when the hunt is slow going and the days are long. However, at the same time, one always needs to remain focused on the job in hand, and never to compromise one’s ethics and integrity, no matter the circumstances. One has to have fun, keep the client relaxed, but at the same time, keep the client well informed of plans or ideas during the hunt proceedings. Clients like to be totally involved in the hunt and don’t like to feel alienated. This interaction with the client will go a long way in forming a good hunting relationship for the duration of the hunt.
Which countries have you hunted and where are you hunting these days?
I have hunted in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia. I am now hunting in Namibia and have done so since 1987, where I started my Namibian hunting career with Jan Oelofse of Mt. Etjo Hunting Safaris. I have been both a freelance hunter and also worked permanently for two reputable big-game companies – Kuzikus Hunting Safaris and Ndumo Hunting Safaris predominantly in Bushmanland, and in the Caprivi Regions of Namibia. I have for the past six years hunted permanently with Karl Stumpfe of Ndumo Safaris in the Caprivi Region, where we operate three dangerous-game concessions.
If you could return to any time or place in Africa, where would it be?
Knowing what I know now, and from my seemingly average career compared to the “Legends” that have come and gone before me, I would love to travel back in time to have hunted during the era of 1920 to late 1960s in Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Bechuanaland (Botswana).
Which is your favorite trophy animal to hunt, and why?
Without question, elephant hunting is for me, my favorite hunt. I qualify this for a multitude of reasons but to mention a few I can say this: it’s not so much the trophy size that excites me, but the thrill of the chase. Of course, for the client, the tusks are his ultimate goal. Always finding a good suitable track to follow, conjures up in me many emotions; I kind of block out the world for a time, and nothing else seems to matter, except in finding the elephant. The anticipation of what I will find standing in that track when we finally catch up to him, is intriguing. I always get to experience and feel the excitement of the client when getting close, not to mention that of the whole team involved. Adrenaline/energy, as well as being constantly prepared for any unforeseen situations that one might encounter during the follow up, together with the added responsibility of protecting the hunting party are the feelings that reaffirm my passion for this type of hunt. An elephant hunt is one incredible experience, and very addictive.
Tell us about one of your most memorable hunts.
I have had numerous memorable hunts. However, one I remember fondly was that of a lady hunter who shot an excellent free-ranging lion in the Caprivi.
The client was a 50-year-old lady from Belgium. At sighting in of the rifle I saw she was both very comfortable and proficient with the rifle of choice, a 9.3×62. She had requested that this lion hunt was to be a tracking hunt and not to be hunted from any blind setup. I explained to her how this kind of hunt would take place and she embraced and accepted the challenge without reservations and was confident this was achievable. There was one limiting factor that was quite disturbing, and that was that she had Multiple Sclerosis, meaning she was limited in her movements and walking distances. To get to the chase, she was up every morning at 4.00 am for coffee, whereafter we would drive to the different baited areas where we hoped to pick up fresh tracks to follow. No blinds were built at the bait sites, as this was to be, at her request, a tracking lion hunt. We followed this rigid routine for 10 days and she never ever kept me waiting at the breakfast table, always happy, and keen to get out there. The morning of the tenth day, in the darkest bush, she walked as usual with her walking stick in her one had, rifle slung over her shoulder. We set out for one of the baited sites where there had been some female lion activity the night before.
I remember the previous day, telling myself I needed to oil the squeaking spring at the base of her walking stick, which acted like a shock absorber. I had forgotten to do this, and some 200 meters into the walk from the vehicle I heard the first squeak. In the dead of the early morning, this sound was magnified. I stopped immediately, ran back to the Cruiser with the walking stick, pulled out the dipstick and liberally oiled the irritating spring.
We continued in a blissful silence until a kilometer from the bait we were abruptly awoken from the tranquility of the coming dawn by a blood curdling roar some 50 meters to our right. This was a prelude to a chorus of roars from two other lions in close proximity. I made the decision to stay put until dawn broke and we could see into the gloomy depths of our surroundings. This wouldn’t be for another hour, during which time we were serenaded for at least 20 mins by the three lions. The crescendo suddenly ended as abruptly as it had started, and we were left in complete silence, not knowing if the lions had remained or moved off.
At sunrise, in the chilling winter air, we continued towards the bait, another kilometer. By this time, my lady client was literally dragging her left leg along, relying totally on her walking stick so as to put one foot in front of the other. I asked her a few times if she wanted to continue, and each time, received the same reply: “Don’t worry about me, keep moving, the lions will be there today.”
Well, we arrived at the bait tree, as the first rays of sunlight caressed the yellow dry grass in front of us. We stood in silence some 80 meters from the bait. No lion. No anything. Just silence. Next thing, movement: A hyena stood up from behind the tree, he looked suspiciously in our direction, as if not sure of what he was seeing. After a few minutes, he nonchalantly walked away, stopped suddenly, stared inquisitively ahead, and then sloped loped off to his right.
We remained motionless, when one of the trackers whispered to me that he could see the ears of a lion some 100 meters in front of us. I looked through the binoculars and could barely make out the round ears in the grass. This was a lioness, and she had seen us, but lay dead still. After some 15 minutes of staring at one another, she got up and started to walk rapidly away heading for the tree line on our left side. Moments later 30 meters beyond and behind this lioness, out trotted a magnificent maned male lion. He was completely oblivious to us, totally focused on his female companion walking away.
I immediately got the lady on the sticks and asked if she was confident to shoot at this distance of 150 meters. She was, so with no time to waste, I told her I would make a sound of sorts to stop the lion long enough for her to shoot. This I did. The lion stopped, quartering slightly away, looking back over his shoulder at the origin of the sound, and the shot rang out.
The lion erupted into a frenzied roar, spun round, and then sprinted in the direction from where he had come. After 20 minutes we cautiously proceeded to where he had disappeared into the tree line, and to our relief we could see from about 80 meters off, the lion lying in a clear open patch of sand. His body looked as if he had been perfectly posed in the Sphinx position. The bullet had entered just behind the left front shoulder and exited just in front of the offside shoulder. No mean feat off shooting sticks at the best of times. We didn’t have to move his body at all, besides curl the tail for the photos. Needless to say, this is when the adrenaline and elations suddenly kicked in. This was one determined and gusty woman, with a never-give-up confident attitude, despite her ailments. A testimony to the words, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes, because that’s where the fruit is.”
Without naming names, tell us about a disaster of a client and what you had to deal with/endure?
About 16 years ago, I had a nightmare of an elephant hunt with an American client in Bushmanland. This client wanted an elephant of 60+ lbs, and as he arrived by private charter at Tsumkwe airstrip, the problems began. He told me on his arrival that I should get in the plane with him and we will quickly go for a flight and recce for elephants. In a polite way I told him that I was not prepared to do this. He said he had already paid the pilot for an extra hour, to which I replied that he was welcome to fly on his own and on his return we would drive 40 minutes to the camp and we could not proceed with the hunt for a minimum of 24 hours. My response was definitely not well received by the client, who after some heated discussions sent his charter plane back to Windhoek, without doing the recce flight.
After this issue was settled, we proceeded to the camp in virtual silence, an unpleasant and stressful start to the hunt. We drove around for the next six days and tracked at least two good bulls each day, however, none that met the client’s expectations. On the seventh day we tracked a lone bull for more than four hours, and on finally catching up to him, we found now one bull had become two bulls. They were standing under a tree next to a large termite mound. Relaxed as they were, I had time to discuss the situation at length with the client. We finally made a decision to take the right side bull which was lazily feeding on a few branches above him. This was going to be a clear “easy” 35-meter side brain shot. Well, that was the plan. I had with me my two Jack Russell hunting dogs, who had accompanied me on every hunt for the past six years. They were both sitting at my side in complete silence observing the scene as this was not their first elephant hunt, so they were probably the most relaxed of the entire hunting party.
The client set up on the shooting sticks and I gave him final instructions on bullet placement and, if necessary, an immediate follow-up shot. Moments before shooting, he gave me an explicit demand that I was NOT to back him up in any eventuality. Needless to say I was not happy, but this was not the time to argue. I swallowed hard and told him to go ahead and take the shot. The shot rang out and all hell broke loose. The elephant did not drop as he had assumed it would. The two elephants burst out from beneath the tree and momentarily headed straight for us. I told him to front-brain shoot it again, but no second shot was forthcoming. The two elephants swung away to our right, and still no follow-up shot came from the client. I then instinctively leveled my rifle and fired a quartering raking shot into the animal’s rightside ribcage. Another follow-up shot was not possible as the unwounded elephant ran in behind the first. Long story short, no blood was visible for more than 300/400 meters where the elephants separated in the thick bush.
While walking on the tracks I kept telling the client not to worry, we would find the bull and the dogs would pick up any blood spoor. With this, he told me in no uncertain terms what he thought of my useless lap dogs and that their efforts would be in vain. He ranted that they were a waste of time and should have remained at camp. I chose to ignore his anger and frustrations and continued on one of the tracks that the dogs seemed keen on, while the bushman trackers followed the other. Within 100 meters the dogs stopped and I found they were sniffing at a minute drop of blood. I called the Bushmen, and together, with hunter in tow, I sarcastically mentioned to him that my useless lapdogs had found the correct track to follow. We proceeded on this single track for about a kilometer and, thankfully, there to our front at around 80 meters, stood the elephant. I urged the client to quickly come with me and approach the animal from the rear as it was standing in about an acre of open ground. As we stalked up closer and now 50 meters away, a shot went off. I was totally unaware that the client had stopped behind me and taken it upon himself to shoot. Needless to say, my entire French Dictionary came out in rebuke to his actions.
The elephant started running, upon which the client fired two more shots before the animal disappeared into thick bush. I told him to reload, and we followed into the thicket where there was copious amounts blood sprayed from top to bottom on all the bushes and trees. We slowly made our way into the thicket and had blood dripping all over us off the bushes. I was focused on a heavily blooded tree to my front when movement to my right side caught my eye. I turned to look and saw the massive elephant head looming over us at no more than 15 paces. I told the client to brain it, which he did. Nothing happened! He shot a second and then a third and the animal merely rocked back and remained standing. The client shouted that he was out of rounds and he needed to use my rifle…
No time to argue, I gave him my .425 Wesley Richards and with a single frontal shot, the elephant collapsed. After this debacle, and standing next to the dead elephant, I examined all the three shots from the client on the elephant’s forehead and could not understand why the animal did not react to those shots. It finally came to light that he had only brought four solids and unbeknown to me, the last rounds he had reloaded from his belt prior to entering that thicket and which he had used on the three frontal shots, were all Soft Points. The one tracker was carrying his other spare ammo, which were also Soft Points. To this day I still cannot understand why that elephant had not charged us in that bush at that moment. Thankfully it didn’t as it would have ended up a total disaster. Without question, this was a nightmare of a client and hunt, and one that I will never forget. This particular hunt taught me many valuable lessons which I have since applied on many other elephant hunts.
What are your recommendations on guns, ammo or equipment for the first-time hunter to Africa?
Which rifles do I consider best for African hunting? Well this is a very personal topic, and varies from person to person. However, in brief, for medium to large plains-game animals, I would recommend any of the .30 caliber rifles using quality Premium Bullets, (160 gr to 210 gr.) with an average velocity of +-2800fps. For dangerous game .375 is a recommended minimum. However, any .400 caliber rifle, and up to .577, are probably the most common calibers used with Premium Bullets (400gr & upwards). Double rifles have become very popular of late for both clients and PHs. However, the debate of which rifle is the best for big-game hunting will rage on for years to come. Let me say this, for specific hunts and situations, they both have their pros and cons for a number of varying reasons. At the end of the day, it basically boils down to the individual; what rifle he can afford and which rifle he is both proficient and comfortable shooting. I sure this is why we all shoot what we shoot and do the best we can. In the end there remains two important criteria for a successful hunt, they being, the use of (a) premium bullets and (b) bullet placement. There can be NO substitute for these.
Which gun do you use to back-up on wounded or dangerous game?
I personally use a .458Lott as my back-up rifle, shooting 470gr. and 500 gr. Monolithic Solids.
What was your closest brush with death?
To be totally honest I have had probably one very close encounter that was a touch and go situation. I don’t know the reasons for this. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, or probably because I have been lucky enough to have had clients that, by and large, have shot well and listened to given instructions.
The one time death or injury was on my doorstep was during an elephant hunt when we were following a few good-sized bull tracks which were following a medium-sized breeding group of elephants. The bush was extremely thick as the hunt was right at the end of a good rainy season. The group consisted of the client, client’s wife, two trackers, apprentice PH, and game scout. During the follow-up we were mock charged once at close quarters by a young bull that had winded, us probably due to light clouds forming overhead causing the wind to swirl.
I pushed on as I needed to try to get sight of this group to look for a shootable bull before sunset. We moved a 100 meters further forward when I called a stop to the stalk as the elephants were in thick bush, no more than 50 meters to our front. I left the group close to a large camel thorn tree while I and the client edged forward another 20 meters to see if I could get a better look at a bull standing on the other side of the thicket.
I was kneeling with my rifle cradled against my shoulder and the client standing directly behind me. While I was looking with binos through an opening at the bull, 10 meters to my right the bush exploded open and with a high-pitched scream an elephant came bursting through at speed. I reacted instinctively, bringing my rifle up to bear and pulled the trigger. The elephant collapsed, thundering to the ground a mere two meters from myself and the client. I do remember hearing another shot, which was that from the client as he tripped and fell backwards to avoid the animal. Luckily his shot missed me but unfortunately missed the elephant too. The good Lord was obviously with me at that moment as my single shot had killed it instantly. The bullet, because of the elephant’s closeness – maybe six meters – had entered the skull below the right eye and had exited through the top left side of the skull above the left ear. I doubt that I had had the time to properly shoulder my rifle from my crouched position, so this was purely an instinctive point and shoot reaction shot, which found its mark. Needless to say, there were many fluttering hearts and relief from us all. This cow, we figured out later, had targeted the group I had left standing at the tree and had not seen either myself or the client as she burst through the bush. Probably that was our saving grace in that split second of events.
How has the hunting industry changed over the past 30 years?
The hunting industry has been through many changes over the par 10 years and will continue to change as political pressures and restrictions continue to mount. We have definitely seen how the ‘antis’ have grown and their momentum ever increasing. We are continually having to fight off and respond to the negativities of trophy hunting as an industry. Social media has certainly played a major part in our battles against the Greenies and our industry continually has to safeguard against what we post such as photos and comments as this is ammunition turned around and used to promote themselves for all those bleeding hearts out there. The many restrictions on the export and import of trophy-hunted animals namely to the USA has really hurt our industry and is definitely changing how we now need to market to sell hunts, and has become an ever increasing challenge for outfitters.
To compound this, there is a saturation of big-game outfitters selling the very same animals, which at times has resulted in outfitters cheapening their hunts to make sales and the end of the day this trend is hurting our industry and certainly cannot be sustained. At this time and without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit our entire industry like a sledge hammer and I believe only the strongest and more grounded companies will have the best chance of resurrecting their businesses. The industry is now faced with many enormous challenges and it will only be through the unified efforts of everyone concerned with a vested interest in hunting, conservation and tourism that we can hopefully get back as soon as possible to some form of sanity and prosperity.
How have the hunting clients themselves changed too?
This is a broad question. I believe every client is different in the way they approach and perceive a hunt to be. Generally speaking a hunt, for whatever the duration, is actually a vacation for the hunter. We, as PHs have to remember and respect this at all times. It’s his time and money that he is spending, and we need to make every effort to accommodate his request. Having said that, we always have a few clients that make our work just that little more challenging; by that I mean some clients are much more demanding and success-oriented.
To them, a successful hunt begins and ends with the animal being shot. Failure for them is not an option, no matter the circumstances. They are at most, restricted by time, money and egos. Fortunately, over the years, the good clients have far outweighed the difficult ones. There has definitely been a mental change and awareness as to what clients now actually recognize and understand what really constitutes being a good trophy: Age! This is something we as PHs have been advocating for years and which we need to keep advocating and educating the clients on. In so doing we will protect and ensure the sustainable utilization of the animals and protect against the good genetics being shot out too soon. Clients also, on the whole nowadays, seem better mentally and physically prepared for their safaris and are putting a lot more emphasis on practicing and honing their shooting skills.
Which qualities go into making a successful PH?
Definitely he must be passionate about the chosen career. He must be ambitious, humble, honest, and above all have integrity. He must be able to accept constructive criticism and be prepared to make mistakes. Failure is to be seen as success in progress. He must definitely have self-esteem as this will reflect in his work ethics. He always needs to respect the clients, no matter what their disposition might be. Patience, being a good listener and understanding will go a long way in furthering his career. He must also remember that he may have lots of ambition but if he does not persist when the going gets tough he will never reap success.
Which qualities go into making a good safari client?
A good hunting client is one who comes to hunt and to have fun and is both physically and mentally prepared for any eventuality, be it success or failure. He must have adequately prepared and trained sufficiently beforehand to be proficient and confident with his rifle. His expectations of a trophy should be realistic and attainable, and he should be adaptable to situations that may arise and influence his goals. A happy, easygoing client will ultimately bring out the best in his PH. and lead to a good, hardworking, and fun hunt for them both.
If you should suggest one thing to your hunting clients to improve their safari experience, what would it be?
I always try to reiterate with the client that this is his time/vacation. He must relax, have fun and as his PH, I will endeavor to a meet all his wishes and expectations of the hunt. Last thing, communication between us is very important, and we must always feel free and comfortable to ask / discuss anything that crops up to ensure a good hunt.
What can the industry do to contribute to the long-term conservation of Africa’swildlife?
I feel right now every company, no matter whether on hunting concessions or on Private hunting properties have already and for quite some time now, been very proactive in ensuring in some way, the longevity of the hunting industry. We, as an industry, are re-thinking our strategies on how to educate the misinformed. Thanks to social media, we are able to voice our opinions and proposed solutions to the ever-increasing war of negativity being directed by the Greenies at or industry. Continued protection of the hunting industry needs to be implemented to starve the ‘antis’ of ammunition (photos, unsavory comments) that they can use and to their advantage in their continued war on our industry.
We have to continually work closely with all the communities in rural hunting concessions to reinforce their role in recognizing the value of the animals in their areas. Regular interaction between the stakeholders (outfitters and conservancy management personnel) is imperative for the continued success of hunting operations within the conservancies. Ultimately, the end result gives rise to monetary benefits (concession and animal fees), employment opportunities, and a constant meat supply (protein) for their respective communities. Correct quota settings need to put in, as currently, in many areas, there are very unrealistic quotas and this is certainly not in the best interest for sustainable conservation. This issue needs to be addressed sooner than later, with the emphasis of protecting certain species and without impacting on or altering the monetary benefits for the respective communities.
How would you describe the future of safari hunting in Africa?
Right now, the hunting industry is on a knife edge. The current red tape now in existence, especially on the importation of certain high-end trophies, like elephant, into the USA is certainly detrimental to the industry. This situation has increased the already mounting challenges the industry is facing. Marketing and the sale of these species is increasingly becoming more challenging not to mention the exhausting and frustrating challenges the outfitters face back home in trying to make communities understand the ever-changing political and economic dynamics of the industry. However, we always find a way to make things work and manage to keep the industry moving forward. We are no different from any other business entity out there and need to be more vigilant and prepared for any eventuality such as has just happened: COVID-19. No one can predict the future. However, we can solidify our present situation for the future by being more cautious, shrewd and more proactive in monitoring the ever changing challenges arising in our industry.
Ask your wife, if she could do it all over again, would she?
My wife’s response to this question was, if it meant being with me for all these years and being a part of my experiences, she absolutely would do it all again. Even though my work/career took me away from home for long periods at a time, this way of life is what I am all about. And, as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and she loves me for who I am.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t believe I would have done anything differently as I accept and am proud of everything I have achieved so far in my chosen career. I am where I am with no regrets, as regrets will only spoil the future. In difficult times I like to remind myself of a meaningful quote: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift from God, which is why we call it the present.”
Hope you are coping well throughout these un-settled times.
I wish i could make it to the show this year to catch-up for the sake of old times.
Never thought i'd say this but genuinely miss our annual catch-ups and your company. Pleasing to see you and your company going from strength to strength.
Quality hunting, quality service, dependable, trustworthy and reliable, you certainly have worked it all out and deliver the goods.
Hope our paths cross again some day down the track.
Best wishes to you and your family.
Keep up the outstanding service to our hunting community