The Blind - Leading the Blind
My wife says I'm too aggressive - I cuss at people when I drive - there are too many a-holes on the road because of course I'm the perfect driver. So to hear me 'F-ing and blinding' as she calls it, from the livingroom while I am watching a documentary by that most famous geographic organization about one of my most favorite places and things in Zambia, had her rushing over thinking something had finally tripped inside and I was about to fire my newly acquired 45-70 lever gun into the TV.
Let's step back a bit - one week to be exact - and I'm also in a foul mood, again in front of the television watching the famous Today show - it's barely gone 7am and I'm swearing at the TV. Why you may ask - there's a new TV documentary called 'The Last Lions' filmed by Dereck Joubert for National Geographic and it is about to be released. I have no doubt that the imagery is spectacular - you cannot film in that idealistic teacup of a country called Botswana and not get great footage. Botswana is an African Eden and without a doubt has some of the most spectacular wildlife in Africa - but I'll get to this a little later.
My wife is arguing with me - I'm saying that Lions are the perfect predators, they are massive and they don't give a damn and when they kill there's blood and screams and bleating from baby antelope - this is nature, in it's purest form and this is what really happens. The warning to the greater American audience is that this documentary may be too gruesome for kids and may even go so far as offending and upsetting kids and certain adults. Now perhaps it is too gruesome to see a Lion killing a antelope baby but what gets me is they are trying to hide this fact from kids - they want them all to grow up believing that simba is friends with Timone and Pumba and they don't eat each other - which in turn means that lions are cute and cuddly and live in perfect harmony in Africa except for us bad hunters who do everything in our power to eradicate them from the earth just for fun.
I get so upset over little things like this that my wife looks at me in disbelief and gently pats my arm and says things like there there dear, have you had your medication yet this morning?
But here's the thing bwana, little things like this all add up and I've said it before - America is a TV nation - if it's on TV then it must be true - I mean who are you going to believe me or your lying eyes!?! So slowly but surely they eat away at the hunters and how bad we are and cold blooded and evil hearted - who would kill a fluffy lion that hangs out with baby antelope - only a bad person - a hunter!
To add to my blood pressure, the release of this documentary coincides with the filing of a petition by a coalition of wildlife groups with the U.S. Department of Interior to list African lions as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act . (this is just a petition and the African Lion has NOT been listed as endangered under the ESA yet)
QUOTE - “The United States is the leading importer of lions and lion parts for commercial and recreational trade – this includes skulls, claws, hides, and live lions,” said Teresa Telecky, director of the wildlife department at The HSUS. “Americans' thirst for exotic goods and trophies to hang on their walls is driving lions to extinction. The African lion
simply cannot endure this level of exploitation if their long-term survival is to be ensured.” - UNQUOTE. You can read the entire article on the NatGeo website HERE!
Now here's where you may be thinking that I'm picking up the arms readying for the cause - we have to fight these bastards tooth and nail so to speak - they provoke, we retaliate!
Those of you who have followed my articles and stories on this website know my background, you know how I feel about the modern commercialization of hunting and mostly you will know how I regard those animals we hunt, particularly the magnificent cats, with nothing but respect and often when I am party to their killing, remorse. I'm Zambian born, I have grown up in the Zambian bush since I can remember and no one can take away from me what I personally have experienced over my lifetime in this part of Africa. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm witness, personally, to the slow decline of our wildlife and believe it or not, do not hold trophy hunting as the savior of the African Lion or any of her other beasts.
From the very beginning, when the Portuguese sailors first sailed the coasts of Africa beyond the equator, the continent was hostile, foreboding and never allowed easy access and solution to problems encountered. Today it still remains the same - African solutions are to be found in Africa, not from the west, and therefore I say trophy hunting is not the only contributor to wildlife conservation, it is an essential part but it plays a complicated dual role. The workings of African politicians and governments is very complex and no solution from the west is going to change this culture of entitlement and greed - it is a simple fact we have to accept - not in my lifetime will there be a change in this culture.
The Lion debate is not a matter of black and white, it is far too complex to simply initiate one set of rules and expect a strong predicted outcome - stopping the LEGAL off take of Africa's Lions is NOT the answer, it is a VERY BAD IDEA which runs on the shirtsleeves of emotion. The debate should be mature and grown up, it must focus on the reality of the situation in Africa not upon the emotions and fund raising efforts of anti hunting groups, it should not be a fight and it should always focus on the very thing that started it - the long term protection of the Arican Lion - AND simply put, without exaggeration or partisanship towards the hunting community, stopping Lion trophies from import into the United States will only damage the Lion populations in Africa further, NOT increase their numbers.
OK to get back to my foul mood - the one I was having in my living room while watching a program on the great rivers of Africa and my favorite one, where I have caught many tiger fish on lazy afternoons as the sun set into a golden pool of liquid - the mighty Zambezi. Now the footage was good, as can be expected but what started getting me irate was the fact that (now you have remember this is a National Geographic film) they couldn't even get the name of the national park which lies in western Zambia right, calling it LUPO instead of LIUWA. Further they went on to portray vast herds of Cape Buffalo on the western plains of Zambia (which is simply not true) and they portrayed a herd of Roan antelope as female Giant or Royal Sable antelope. Now perhaps I'm a stickler of fact but here's the thing - and it goes back to what I was saying earlier - the rest of the world watching this (other than the few Zambians) would happily go on believing what they have just seen on TV - so they got a name wrong what's the big deal? OK so there are no buffalo on the western plains and sable and roan look similar anyway don't they?
It is these small facts that turn the tide, that can be manipulated into larger beliefs amongst an ignorant public and despite plain hard truth to the contrary could spark a revolution which does not affect those making the decision BUT has a major affect in another part of the world that these self proclaimed freedom fighters have no knowledge over, except for what they view on the NatGeo channel.
This petition to list the African Lion on the United States ESA has far reaching effects not only for Lions but for all wild animals and habitat in those countries of Africa where trophy hunting forms an important part of the conservation initiative. It effects the livelihood of people and children in Africa, it will severely dent conservation funds and the sad but hard truth is that the Lions will still be under threat, in fact much larger and more dangerous than ever before from the east and their appetite for animal body parts.
Of Lions and Lambies
Over the next months I'll make this Lion issue my favorite discussion because there is allot to talk about both good and bad.
HOWEVER for the first time I will ask those who have subscribed to this newsletter - the true conservationists and ethical hunters - to consider donations to two organizations who protect our hunting rights at the highest levels. In my next newsletter I'll link you to their sites, you probably know who I'm talking about but they are the only ones capable of taking on this fight at Washington level. If you feel you have insight to share please email me and I'll include it in the discussion - EMAIL
Mozambique Calling - last year I started out looking at Mozambique as a new hunting destination for SafariBwana and I have been quite busy with two very big safari hunting projects there, one of which has recently come to fruition and the other which lies in the pipeline. BOTH offer classic big game safari hunting in large remote wilderness areas and in partnership with a local professional hunter Niassaland Safaris Mozambique has been established to conduct safaris in the country.
In partnership with the local community we have acquired 160,000 acres of hunting land which we will be opening up and developing this year. The good news is that the land in question has been frequently hunted since 2006 by our Mozambique PH with great results - so this is not a hunting area where we don't know what to expect. We are the legal owners and leaseholders of this land, we have hunting rights to it, we have a good big game quota AND past success points to elephant in the 70lbs class, black mane lion as well as a full complement of big Leopard.
As part of our initial stabilization process we are offering low priced hunts in this pristine wilderness and we are confident beyond hesitation that we are going to pull out a great big old Lion as none have been hunted here since 2007. IN addition you can expect a good Elephant if you hunt for 24 days during the late season. Leopard will be 100 percent success as well as a full plains game bag. We also have very BIG Crocodiles on the Zambezi - seriously, there are some monsters on sections of the river that has never been hunted - our 7 day Crocodile Hippo package starts at $8,900 for a 2x1 inclusive of trophy fees - MORE HERE
But here's the better part of this deal - if you book a Lion or Elephant or Leopard hunt, we'll throw in some of the more common plains game for free. This is an opportunity for those who have always wanted to hunt the classical African countries to do so at a price that you'll not find again. If you're already a seasoned African veteran then this is a cheap way to come and tramp around the bush with us and if your fancy takes, shoot some big critters.
Take a look at our pricing for Mozambique HERE and then give me a call if something takes your fancy - phone
Pete Swanepoel @ 720-277 1920
ZAMBIA DEALS 2011
OK so I tend to get allot of PH's and operators emailing me what they have left for the season in Zambia - these are the traditional classical hunts that you see in the fancy magazines and to be honest they are magnificent but a bit long in the tooth these days. What I always look for is something new, a proper hunt with unique animals OR perhaps a new property that hold some magnificent beasts.
So for me, the rough hunts we have in Zambia still offer the true wilderness experience, no luxury and fanfare, just plain hunting at reasonable prices. Our Buffalo hunting packages are all based in the Luangwa Valley with 100 percent success and the ability to add on Hippo and Crocodile - remember these hunts are in areas I have hunted since a child and I'm the PH so you know what you're getting - Take a look at our Zambia Safaris for 2011
Still one of the favorite safaris to Zambia is our 10 Day Sitatunga rough hunt - great Sitatunga trophies, the endemic Black Lechwe, Tsessebbe, Oribi and Reedbuck - all in one of the Zambia's most remote and distinctive hunting areas, the Bangweulu swamps. Our 2x1 price is only $11,900 ALL inclusive - you just need to pitch up at the airport and head out - as I said a true hunt like we used to do it in the very old days - EMAIL ME for further details
If you're after world record Sable antelope then I have the rights to Mumbwa West GMA, my fathers hunting concession, where the current record book Sable was taken 4 years ago - it measured 53 plus inches. Although not the cheapest Sable hunt, you get to hunt what is without a doubt the BEST hunting concession in Zambia for that iconic royal prince the Zambian Sable antelope - EMAIL ME for further details
Last week I was called by a good friend of mine, one of the older true PH's in Zambia who left school at 15 and started his career in hunting - he now works for some wealthy gents from the far east - runs their private hunting property in the Kafue alongside the crystal flowing waters of that great Zambian river. He has some excess quota for 2011, game which his bosses are not going to be shooting in 2011 and he has been given the go to sell the safaris. This property is magnificent, in fact one of the most highly sought after destinations in Zambia and now we have exclusive access to this for this year. I must stress that the Leopard here are nothing short of monsters, the Sable magnificent and all the other Kafue species are available. What I bank on more is the ability of this PH, hunting with him is a true experience as he is one of the last to have been schooled in the traditional PH manner - he's not a an old fart who reminisces about the good old days - he get s the job done and is a pleasure to hunt alongside - EMAIL ME for further details
Zambia has no shortage of good ranch hunting properties, some are fenced like in South Africa, while others are open land very much like the government concessions, some even lie next to these or on the boundaries with National Parks. I have tied up with the local Taxidermist in Zambia - Mike Borman and his partner Kirk Hoffman who have a great selection of game ranch packages on their new website - it is worth a look - Bangweulu Bushcraft Safaris - they have some hunts which are quick and easy.
ALSO of interest for 2011 is our attempt at finally setting up a proper wingshooting Safari for Zambia - a kind of species collecting trip for the serious wingshooter. We have an incredible amount of of wild birds - waterfowl numbers and variety on the two major wetlands of Zambia (the Kafue Flats and the Bangweulu Swamps) is incredible while the many types of Francolin, Spurfowl and Guineas provide the essential walk up sporting adventure. We have a trip planned for September this year, an exploratory one as trying to set this operation up will not be without it's hiccups - but the effort will be well worth it and we need a group of at least 6 guns at around $4,800 each to make this work - EMAIL ME for further details
The South African Experience
This country, although not the classical African Safari destination, offers the best variety hunting on the continent at prices that are easy on the pocket. My younger brother has recently stepped away from the family cocoon and established his own Safari Operation there - Swanepoel & Furstenburg Safaris - offering the best of the country at reasonable rates - if you're after a South African Lion (approx. $22,000 all in for a big male) then they can help you - in addition they have an excellent property lying on the Kruger National park where the owner guarantees 43 inch buffalo - I have personally see the bulls here, and they are massive and it is not a set-up situation. In addition they offer 7 - 14 day traditional plains game hunts, not just a ranch hunt but a proper safari. Both these PH's have cut their teeth in Zambia and Botswana so they are not the typical 14 day PH fresh out of PH school - EMAIL ME for further details on these two youngsters and their hunts.
We have some excellent package deals for the traditional plains game safaris as well starting at $4,950 for 10 days inclusive of Gemsbok OR Red Hartebeest, Blesbok, Impala, Springbok AND Warthog OR Duiker OR Steenbok.
In Natal we have a classic Nyala Package hunt over 7 days at $7,950 inclusive of Nyala OR Kudu, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Mountain Reedbuck and Warthog.
EMAIL ME for further details on these package safaris to South Africa
Johannesburg - Cape Town
- Got time to kill between flights?...don't waste time hanging out at the airport! Hunt just outside Johannesburg or Cape Town for a variety of South African species including Cape Eland, Bontebok, Gemsbok, Blue and Black Wildebeest and Red Hartebeest. Quick and easy - email Pete
Desert Wilderness Expeditions in Namibia
In Namibia we have access to a true hunt, one of open spaces, camping beneath the stars, pursuit of hardy desert animals in their natural environment, nomadic herding tribes, a true exploration. No fences, these hunts are based on conservancies belonging to the Himba and Herero people, they make their living off the land, they are some of the last remaining true nomadic herders of Africa and very little has changed in their culture and habits.
Embark upon the classic 10 day expedition hunt - after the desert prince, the magnificent Gemsbok and the wiley Kalahari Springbok in a true desert wilderness - 2x1 10 day Hunts start at $7800 per client inclusive of trophy fees.
EMAIL FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CLASSICAL EXPEDITION!