Tipping Guide

Chago

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This horse has been beaten to death but I do have a simple question . . . is tipping the "recommended amount" on an outfitters website ever considered to be insufficient? I only ask because I see suggested daily tip rates (in $ for PH and Staff) on websites that, in aggregate, are small percentage of the potential cost of the hunt.

For example, if the cost of a 7 day hunt is $35k but the suggested tip amount is $100/day for PH + $100/day for camp staff, does $1400 in total tip not seem a bit light @ 4.0% ?

I was told by my first Africa guide $125 per day for the ph. $25 per dayy Skinner's (I had two Skinner/trackers). And $20 per day for house staff to share. So I brought $190 per day. I don't think looking at the hunt total as a benchmark makes sense. If I shoot a kudu or a sable, it's the exact same work for the team. But the cost of the hunt is drastic difference. Paying per day seems to make the most sense. I think the hunt cost percentage is more something that happens with north american guides, where you typically are paying for one or two animals in 10 days.
 

JLF

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And what is the reason why I have to use a guide, I consider it necessary to the Professional Hunter, as a means of controlling that the hunter does not make a big mistake, but I do not understand the reason for using the guides.
 

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Hey Everyone! First post and have my first trip coming up, doing a South Africa plains game hunt with a friend in 57 days! So excited. Looking for a little advice. I read most of this thread but admittedly not all of it. My apologies if it was already addressed!

My friend and I are going on a voucher that was donated to the Safari Club Auction (we are in the US). It covers everything, 2 animals, day rates, etc. Also gives credit towards flight and taxidermy to be discounted on other animals, I am getting 2 more he is getting 1. We are younger and it is our first trip, neither of us would be able to afford this if we didn't get the donated voucher for pennies on the dollar of value at the Auction. So we are also keeping it relatively affordable animal wise also (I am adding 2 affordable ones, he is adding 1). I figured out what the rate would likely cost with the day rates, animal fees they charge etc.

Being a 2 x 1 hunt, does that effect how you tip? I assume we are going to pool our tips together and contribute equally. What is customary? Would we each tip less that combined would be "normal"? Is the total hunt % per person or total if we did it that way? Looking at it as a total is really low, but per person seems like it gets it in the right ballpark. (Value is around 4400-4800/person). Any guidance or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
I hope you get your trip rescheduled. I recommend a very generous tip being that you are on a donated Safari. That is provided things go well. I would make sure to be at least 20% of the retail price of your hunt. If you want a donated hunt to go well make sure and book extra animals and/or extra days. This is my advice. Have a great safari!
Philip
 

sierraone

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I hope you get your trip rescheduled. I recommend a very generous tip being that you are on a donated Safari. That is provided things go well. I would make sure to be at least 20% of the retail price of your hunt. If you want a donated hunt to go well make sure and book extra animals and/or extra days. This is my advice. Have a great safari!
Philip
Philip, this is a six month old post. I think its long over, for better or for worse.
 

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In that case, I (and many others) would top less than you normally would if they were an employee. He is already making profit (theoretically) off of you so there is not a professional reason to double dip. A small tip is still important because he should be keeping his business income separate from his personal income.
I wouldn’t tip less.
 

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During my first and only safari, the owner told me to give him the money for the tracker, skinners, and kitchen staff. He said that if I gave them the money, they would disappear for a couple of days and drink it all. I was not happy with this, but it is his business. I did give the PH a tip of 15% of the cost of the safari, I could tell he was not happy. Not sure why, I believed it was a very generous tip. I also brought him several gifts, a Leatherman tool, a Benchmade knife, and couple of 5.11 shirts & socks. I guess sometimes you just can't win.
 

Hank2211

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During my first and only safari, the owner told me to give him the money for the tracker, skinners, and kitchen staff. He said that if I gave them the money, they would disappear for a couple of days and drink it all. I was not happy with this, but it is his business. I did give the PH a tip of 15% of the cost of the safari, I could tell he was not happy. Not sure why, I believed it was a very generous tip. I also brought him several gifts, a Leatherman tool, a Benchmade knife, and couple of 5.11 shirts & socks. I guess sometimes you just can't win.
It’s not unusual in some places for the outfitter to want the tips, to avoid the exact problem you mention here. However, in the few cases where I’ve had that request, the outfitter has always asked two members of the staff - always the cook (who seems to be the senior staff member in every case) as well as one other - to see me handing over the money and telling them what the amount was. I then got to thank them. They then allocated the tips based on some system which they had come up with themselves.

As for the behavior of your PH, I would say that 15% of the cost of the hunt is generous, even without the other gifts. The only lesson you should take from this is that next time, you need a different PH.
 

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It’s not unusual in some places for the outfitter to want the tips, to avoid the exact problem you mention here. However, in the few cases where I’ve had that request, the outfitter has always asked two members of the staff - always the cook (who seems to be the senior staff member in every case) as well as one other - to see me handing over the money and telling them what the amount was. I then got to thank them. They then allocated the tips based on some system which they had come up with themselves.

As for the behavior of your PH, I would say that 15% of the cost of the hunt is generous, even without the other gifts. The only lesson you should take from this is that next time, you need a different PH.
A true 15% is a generous tip.
 

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@Hank2211, no worries on that aspect, I will probably never hunt with that outfitter ever again. Great animals, and great experience, until the day I received my trophies. My taxidermist experience was a catastrophe, and when I asked for the outfitter assistance, they basically sided with the taxidermist and gave me the finger.
 

Hank2211

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@Hank2211, no worries on that aspect, I will probably never hunt with that outfitter ever again. Great animals, and great experience, until the day I received my trophies. My taxidermist experience was a catastrophe, and when I asked for the outfitter assistance, they basically sided with the taxidermist and gave me the finger.
Sorry to hear about the taxidermy. That’s probably an issue for another thread but . . . If you use a taxidermist recommended by your outfitter, one he takes you to visit, etc., you can be virtually certain that he’s received a kickback from the taxidermist.

I don’t object to that in principle, but it should always be disclosed (but never is) and in one sense, you could (and likely should) factor that into the compensation your outfitter has received from the hunt.

I wonder if the kickback the outfitter likely received was enough to compensate him for the fact that you will never return . . .
 

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During my first and only safari, the owner told me to give him the money for the tracker, skinners, and kitchen staff. He said that if I gave them the money, they would disappear for a couple of days and drink it all. I was not happy with this, but it is his business. I did give the PH a tip of 15% of the cost of the safari, I could tell he was not happy. Not sure why, I believed it was a very generous tip. I also brought him several gifts, a Leatherman tool, a Benchmade knife, and couple of 5.11 shirts & socks. I guess sometimes you just can't win.

they hate gifts so that might be part of it. They sell theM, for pennies instantly. Your gifts were worth $200-$300 in a first world country. $5 over there.
 

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they hate gifts so that might be part of it. They sell theM, for pennies instantly. Your gifts were worth $200-$300 in a first world country. $5 over there.
It really does depend on the gift. Last time I was in Africa my PH asked me to leave my Leica CRF instead of a cash tip. Like so many things like rifles, ammunition, rifle scopes and the like they cost on the order of two to four times as much in South Africa as you can buy them for in Canada and they can't just import them easily. The other thing that is VERY expensive and hard for the staff to come by is pain meds like over the counter Aleve, Tylenol etc. We had a tracker with a badly injured leg who was very happy with Aleve as a bonus tip.

You are however completely correct that other types of gifts are not a replacement for cash, we use knives, sunglasses, shirts and the like for a thank you on the spot to trackers, camp staff, for something extra and still tip the same amount at the end.
 

rookhawk

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It really does depend on the gift. Last time I was in Africa my PH asked me to leave my Leica CRF instead of a cash tip. Like so many things like rifles, ammunition, rifle scopes and the like they cost on the order of two to four times as much in South Africa as you can buy them for in Canada and they can't just import them easily. The other thing that is VERY expensive and hard for the staff to come by is pain meds like over the counter Aleve, Tylenol etc. We had a tracker with a badly injured leg who was very happy with Aleve as a bonus tip.

You are however completely correct that other types of gifts are not a replacement for cash, we use knives, sunglasses, shirts and the like for a thank you on the spot to trackers, camp staff, for something extra and still tip the same amount at the end.

I’m talking about staff making $10 a week from starving villages. They want cash, they sell any gift you give them. They sell them for 1/10th what anyone reading this would pay for them.

PHs may ask for things because they are not subsistence living and need tools of the trade.
 

Areaonereal

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Other than cash in local currency, I have given gifts of gloves(leather), socks or on one occasion gave my jacket to a young tracker when I left, I noticed on cold mornings he only wore two shirts and was shiverining on the back of the Bakkie, only to find out later he had no coat or jacket....I gave him a fleece pullover then and my jacket when I left. These young guys..trackers, drivers, and skinners have very little and normally are living with relatives on the farm. I even have given shoe laces when they did not have any on their worn out,split, coming apart Boots. For these guys a little means a lot.
 

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During my first and only safari, the owner told me to give him the money for the tracker, skinners, and kitchen staff. He said that if I gave them the money, they would disappear for a couple of days and drink it all. I was not happy with this, but it is his business. I did give the PH a tip of 15% of the cost of the safari, I could tell he was not happy. Not sure why, I believed it was a very generous tip. I also brought him several gifts, a Leatherman tool, a Benchmade knife, and couple of 5.11 shirts & socks. I guess sometimes you just can't win.
15 % is extremely generous, if you check the tipping guide here you will see that. I don’t like giving someone else a tip that’s intended for skinners, cook etc. I personally want to make sure they receive the intended amount I wanted them to have. I’ve heard some PH’s keep a good amount of tip money for themselves. Funny cause just yesterday I spoke to a well known booking agent here in Georgia about his recommendation on tipping for my up coming hunt in Sonora.
 

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They want cash, they sell any gift you give them. They sell them for 1/10th what anyone reading this would pay for them.

A nice story,could be Ive told it years before:
during a visit in one of my frist Africa hunt in Namibia , I rode from time to time with the headman over the plains, checking cows and fences, a work i could do horseback all day long. I noticed that my black companion was only wearing old office shoes, even without laces, he had no other shoes(as a farmworker !), I gave him my spare boots, used, but still in good shape (Meindl Tracking, good and expensive)

On the day of my departure I was surprised to see my riding buddy in his dark blue suit, a suit that was much too small for him, but still looked very chic.
When the farmer took me to the airport, I wondered where it came from and why he was so well dressed.
Then the farmer said "Now he's someone at home, exchanged for your boots" :giggle: .

A hunting buddi from Hamburg experienced his PH's remark "I'm sure this will give a big tip" every time he shot a good trophy .
I prefer to stay at home,
 
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Here is an article that I wrote about tipping, feel free to comment and discuss this subject further, give your opinion or share examples of what you have given as a tip.


Tipping Guide


Tipping is something that I get asked about quite regularly, I believe this is because there is a lot of conflicting advice and confusion surrounding this topic. I have heard complaints, usually from hunters who are very satisfied with their hunt, but then have felt pressured to leave more of a tip than they were comfortable with or even told what they should leave. I will let you know what I think the beneficial or normal practices are and expose some of the less ethical ones. I will try to clarify a rather ambiguous subject so that you can make an educated choice as to how much of a tip you wish to leave, because after all it is a choice.

What is tipping for?
Tipping is a good thing, it is a straight forward way to encourage great service. However tipping looses it's most important purpose when others start deciding or dictating who should get tips, how much you should give or pooling tips and redistributing them however they see fit. These practices do not allow workers to make that connection between their effort and their compensation, after all what is a tip for?

Tipping is customary but it's also discretionary
In the hunting industry a tip is customary and should always be figured into your budget during the planning stages of your hunt. That being said, a tip is also always a reflection of the level and quality of service that you have received during the entirety of your hunt and should not be considered mandatory. It should however be a VERY rare occasion and a completely bungled hunt, due to human error, not nature or weather, when skimping on a tip should be considered acceptable. You should absolutely inform the owner or person in charge if you are dissatisfied to the extent that you do not feel that a tip is deserved by anyone involved in your hunting safari.

Why is tipping so important?
The reason is simple, P.H.'s, trackers and camp staff derive much of their income from the tips they receive which creates the incentive for them to perform at their highest level for each and every client. After all we must remember that hunting is a service industry. The custom of tipping has evolved over a long period of time and is responsible for creating an environment of ever evolving higher standards and better quality of service, leaving behind those who are less than hard working. I would like to point out however than if your P.H. is also the owner of the hunting outfit, you still need to give him a tip as you would with any other P.H., based upon your overall satisfaction no more, no less.

When to tip
Most people give their tip at the end of the hunt, which makes sense because it should be based upon overall satisfaction. There are some hunters who swear they get better service by offering a portion of the tip at the beginning of the hunt to the trackers and skinner, as an incentive. They explain to the hunting team that they will be well compensated at the end of the hunt in addition to what they have already received if they work hard and do their very best. Even if they spend no more than they had planned to originally, they believe this method to be an effective stimulus that makes the team want to work harder. This may be of particular importance with the skinner who often gets little attention, even though the fate of your trophies rests in their hands. My thought is that this theory is hard to prove as you will never know how hard the hunting team would have worked for you otherwise but perhaps that is not a concern if you spent no more on your tip by doing it this way. But there are definitely risks, such as a member of your hunting team, with cash in hand, may decide to take an impromptu vacation which has been known to happen.

This tip has nothing to do with tipping
Here is my tip to you which has nothing to do with tipping! Your behavior has more to do with the outcome of your hunt than your tip. You should know that the outcome of your hunt is highly dependent upon the performance of your entire hunting team and that the effort they put forth from one hunt to another can be drastically different depending on how they "feel" about the hunter as a person. It's not always about money, just being nice goes a long way too. How important it is that the P.H. and hunting team perceive you positively, for whatever reason, is not something that you will ever hear discussed, but it is really a factor that can play a huge role in how hard the hunting team works for you and how successful your hunt is.

From the moment you arrive it is important to go out of your way to have warm and friendly interactions with the staff... and I mean all of them. Remember they work together, live together and are often related to each other, if you are disrespectful to one person they will all know about it in short order. Not to say that you shouldn't complain if there is something that you're unhappy about, but I suggest you take it to the P.H. or lodge manager and let them deal with it.

Preferred form of payment for tipping
A tip should be given in cash or can be given with traveler's cheques. If a voucher system is used by the hunting outfitter, you may wish to ask the outfitter if it matters if that cash is in local currency or US$. You may be surprised to hear that many prefer US$, which should make it easier for you in terms of knowing what you are giving and not needing to exchange currency, however some still prefer local currency as it is hassle for some workers to exchange money depending on the country.

When it is okay to give an item as your tip instead of cash?
It is always very generous for hunters to bring "extras" (such as clothes, knives, cigarettes, candy, even perfume or chocolates for the lady of the house), however these items should not be considered a tip. If you wish to offer an item in lieu of a cash tip the choice should be that of the recipient, for example you might propose leaving behind a pair of binoculars or a nice hunting knife instead of a cash tip, if the person agrees great, but if they prefer cash, you should be prepared to leave the tip in that form. I do believe that those types of "extras", given before or shared throughout the hunt, can buy you a lot of good graces; these small gestures are very well received and just a nice thing to do.

How to make sure your tip gets where you intend it to?
You should make an effort to hand your tip or voucher directly to the person it is for. In this way you can help to insure that your wishes are being respected. It is fine if you wish to put your tip into an envelope or give a group tip to be divided evenly, or as you see fit, for the lodge/camp staff to the house manager if you are more comfortable or if it is too time consuming.

Factors to consider when tipping
- Satisfaction with hunting safari
- Success of hunting safari
- Country where hunt takes place
- Price of hunt
- Number of days of hunt
- Type of hunting safari (plains game, dangerous game or combination of both)
- Number of hunters with PH (1x1, 2x1, etc.)
- Number of non-hunting observers

You may not have as much contact with the lodge/camp personnel as you do with your hunting team but they are still an important component of your whole hunting safari experience. These people should also be taken into consideration when tipping as they care for your day to day needs behind the scenes. The hunting and camp staff are a complete team, each doing their part to make you hunt great and stay enjoyable, however some hunters may be inclined only to tip those who they have had the most contact with (ie. PH, trackers, driver) but it is really a team effort in every way.

Typical personnel to tip
- Professional Hunter
- Tracker(s)
- Driver
- Skinner
- Cook
- Servers
- Maids
- Laundress

Additional personnel you may need to tip
(all of these personnel may not be a part of your hunting safari)
- Meet and greet
- Lodge/camp manager
- Porter(s)
- Game scout/game guards (they expect to be tipped even though they are government employees)
- Tour guide

Who is it normal to tip and why?
A general guideline for me as to who should receive a tip goes back to something I mentioned earlier: the purpose of a tip is to reward and encourage good service. That being said, I believe anyone directly providing service to you should be tipped, as outlined in the list above. This general rule will help you to clarify when or if an outfitter is asking you to tip personnel that should be salaried workers. If someone is driving, cooking cleaning for me or otherwise involved directly in the hunting they should be tipped, however if they maintain the vehicles, garden, pool or other property they should be considered non service employees that the hunting outfitter should pay.

Asking your hunting outfitter for guidelines
You may wish to ask your hunting outfitter for some guidelines regarding who and how much to tip, however be prepared for a less than clear response as many PHs and hunting outfitters are uncomfortable providing advice regarding this subject. Always remember that any suggestion is merely a point of reference and not what you should tip, ultimately the decision is yours.

Tipping guidelines to be wary of
Something that I would be very wary of is an outfitter who supplies a detailed and excessively lengthy list of employees who should be tipped and how much. This list may include non service empolyees and in some cases add up to an unreasonable sum of money, not within the guidelines that we discuss below. It may be hard to know if all of those employees actually exist or it may be a sign that some or all of these employees may not be receiving any salary from the outfitter and their only income is being given to them by you and other hunters. It is hard to know where these unethical practices are occurring so it is important to use your best instincts, if an outfitter seems too pushy or they mandate tipping in any fashion, I would avoid hunting with them.

There are some outfitters who, in an effort to avoid inequality or jealousy among camp staff, believe that all tips, including those of the hunting team and camp staff, should be pooled and divided evenly or as they decide, and I am not a proponent of that. I believe there is a hierarchy among workers and I would never hunt with an outfitter who would dictate how my tip should be allocated.

The only way to prevent getting caught up in these types of situations is to ask the right questions BEFORE you book; ask if they have any type of tipping requirements or pool tips. If they say we ASK that you tip a certain way, you're probably still okay as many outfitters do have some guidelines in place and for good reasons, (which I will outline below) but if they have strict or inflexible rules or requirements ask to see them before booking and use your best judgment.

What tipping guidelines are normal and why
Most guidelines concerning tipping have arisen out of necessity and are in place to help the hunting outfitter avoid known problems. These problems can range from workers accumulating too much cash through a long hunting season in the bush and the risks associated with having that cash lost or stolen from them. Some workers, with cash in hand, have been known to disappear half way through the hunting season on an unplanned "vacation" for a few weeks, not so good for the next guy who comes to hunt. Another issue is that alcohol problems are rampant in Africa and it is not uncommon for a worker to binge drink given a pocket full of cash.

Why some hunting outfitters use vouchers
The above mentioned scenarios are a few reasons why hunting outfitters may use a voucher system and ask that you comply during the active part of the hunting season. A voucher may not seem as satisfying to give to a great tracker for a job well done, but in the long run it may be what is in his best interests as well as the hunting outfitters. I personally really like to give someone their tip in cash, but I understand and am willing to give them a voucher as long as I am able to write the amount that I am leaving them and give it to them directly so they know how much I appreciated their hard work, skill and effort. And also for the simple fact that I know that they can keep tabs on what they are owed at the end of the hunting season.

How much to tip on a plains game hunt
There is a lot of advice and theories out there regarding how much to tip, which often creates more confusion than actually helping you get a better grasp on a fuzzy subject. I will share with you my method for how I decide how much of a tip to leave and knowing from the other side of the equation how much people really do leave. This method really works for all hunting safaris from a bargain plains game hunting package all the way up to a big five hunting safari.

I base my tip for the Professional Hunter on the total cost of the hunt, daily rate and trophy fees combined, excluding tax. Using that figure, I multiplying it by:

For professional hunter:
5% for an average tip
6% for a better than average tip
7% for a very good tip
8% plus for a very generous tip

I believe that this method works well because it figures in the cost level of the hunt, the number of species you take and allows for you to express your appreciation by giving you the ability to choose the percentage based upon your overall satisfaction.

As for the rest of the hunting team and lodge/camp staff I break it down as follows:

For a typical hunting safari:
Tracker: from $5 to $10 per person/day
Driver: from $5 to $10 per day
Skinner: from $5 to $10 per person/day
Lodge/camp staff: $3 to $5 per person/day

Typical personnel for a basic hunting safari:
Hunting team will usually consist of one to two trackers, one driver who may also double as a tracker, one skinner.
Lodge staff will usually consist of one cook, one server, one to two maids, one laundress. The more high end the lodge the more personnel you can expect.

For a big five or concession camp hunting safari:
Tracker: from $8 to $13 per person/day
Driver: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per day
Skinner: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per person/day
Porter: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per person/day
Lodge/camp staff: $3 (average) to $7 (generous) per person/day

Typical personnel for a big five or concession camp hunting safari:
Hunting team will usually consist of two trackers, one driver who may also work as a third tracker, one porter who may also work as a third tracker, one skinner.
Camp staff will usually consist of one to two cooks, two servers, two maids, two laundress. The more high end the lodge the more personnel you can expect.

Additional personnel you may need to tip
(all of these personnel may not be a part of your hunting safari)
- Meet and greet: a tip should be considered for a service outside of your hunting outfitter
- Lodge/camp manager
- Game scout/game guard: $10 per person/day, some hunters give incentives
- Tour guide
 

JPmbogo

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My personal feeling is that "tipping" is absolutely the most debasing practice in dealing with out fellow humans that exists.
 

Red Leg

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My personal feeling is that "tipping" is absolutely the most debasing practice in dealing with out fellow humans that exists.

That is a fine and noble attitude to have until you have a job where such a gratuity is an important part of your income. At that point you become merely sanctimonious. I would suggest it is important to understand the culture in which you are enjoying your experience (meal, hunt, fishing trip, whatever) before assuming too much about debasing you’re fellow human beings.
 

AfricaHunting.com

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My personal feeling is that "tipping" is absolutely the most debasing practice in dealing with out fellow humans that exists.
On the contrary I think it is a form of appreciation for hard work, good service and good results. We get compensated in many ways and this is just another form of compensation, especially in the service and hunting/travel sector. It's a form of compensation based quality of service and results. Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on tips as an important source of income, not sure they would agree with you.
 
 

 

 

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I have factory loaded Hornady 450 NE 3 1/4 DGS that I am selling for not much more than the brass itself at $75/box - see my listing for same.
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