There are many pitfalls in the safari and hunting game in Africa and unfortunately there are those opportunists looking for an unaware and inexperienced victim, especially the first time visitor and the inexperienced person. It is your responsibility not to trust everybody and to ensure that you get the professional service you pay for.
Some people choose to go on an African hunting safari to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and get in touch with the great outdoors of Africa. Others go to see the exotic animals and enjoy the foreign wildlife. A Safari in Africa is certainly one of those dreams everyone desires to do, even if it is once in a lifetime. One safari is clearly not enough for many of the tourists and a great number of them return year after year. It is an unforgettable experience! The main aim of this article is to provide the first time visitor or the inexperienced person with the necessary information to make the right choice.
African safaris requires meticulous planning due to the very nature of what is intended. Apart from the normal passport / visum some other permits might be required and restrictions are placed on what kinds of animals can be shot and how many can be shot at one time in the event of a hunting safari.
Before even attempt to secure a booking, please do yourself the favor to do a thorough background check of the booking agency. Secondly, make sure of the credentials of the professional hunter (PH) the booking agency is linked up with. Do they own the game farm or do they rely on the issuing of permits or concessions from a foreigner or the jurisdiction of another state or province? The following tips are a guidance only and you should ensure to get what you pay for.
Prior to your booking make sure that you are acquainted with the conditions of the safari you plan and shop around, and remember to be cautious when choosing the type of African safari. Confirm whether the deposit is refundable should you have to cancel the booking in an emergency.
The cheapest type of hunting while on safari is known as non-trophy hunting. You may not be able to choose the type of animal or the number you want to hunt. This is a matter of managing the wildlife numbers for a specific game farm and might enjoy exquisite accommodation, excellent food and struck friendships forever.
Find out if you pay:
· for all shots fired at game?
· extra for the guide and if so, at what extra charge?
· for game wounded? What criteria is set to determine if an animal was wounded or not? This is normally the case when blood is found and the wounded animal could not be found. Another criteria might be the full price for a shot at an animal and totally missed.
Trophy hunting is a more expensive type of hunting especially if you’re looking to bag yourself a member of the Big Five. They consists of the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and the black rhinoceros. You’ll need the services of a professional hunter (PH). An experienced and professional PH is the most important factor between a successful hunting safari or a bad experience you’ll never forget!
The method of hunt is crucial! In the thicket don’t expect to shoot the trophy of a lifetime from a vehicle. It will be purely luck if it happens and 99% of the time when the chance presents itself, you will not be ready or prepared to take a shot. Nor will it wait for you to load and prepare yourself for a shot. You are entering the terrain of the wild and any vehicle noise or other noise such as boots on gravel, the cracking of dry leaves and sticks are factors that determine your success or failure. Your own physique, health and fitness and therefore crucial and you need to know beforehand what you are letting you into.
Hiding in a hideout or tree-stand might be not that physically challenging except for taking enough fluids.
Also avoid to end up in a position where the hunt depends solely on you. You pay for a service and make sure you get the best!
If you are hunting on the open plains then taking your trophy from a vehicle is normal practice. The game normally running from the vehicle, relaxes the moment they enter their comfort zone which may vary in distance depending on the species. The opportunity will present itself to find the right trophy since the distance to the game is normally in your favor giving you more time to make the right choice. Tracking a wounded animal is also easier on the open plains.
Confirm the following:
· do you pay for the game shot or do you pay for all the game in the booking / hunting packet?
· do you pay by weight, what is weighed, is the head off, are legs, the gut, the skin, head, etc. removed or not when weighed? The latter may contribute up to 40% of the carcass weight and many hunters discovered that too late and felt cheated.
· do you pay for the trophy skinning and appropriate caring and delivery thereof to a taxidermist. Who takes responsibility for the trophy at what stages?
· do you pay for every shot fired at game?
· what criteria is applied to determine if an animal is wounded?
· are you held liable for payment of the amount when a trophy animal has been spotted but not taken?
· What standards are used to determine when it is a trophy? This is crucial to non- trophy hunters.
· How to go about to obtain your hunting license.
The determining factors for choosing the caliber of a suitable rifle(s) are the following:
type of game you intend to hunt; and
Many game farm owners in heavy bushed areas are adamant not to allow any caliber smaller than a 300 series and bullets not less than 180gr.
Remember you can kill small game with a large caliber but not vice versa!
The following type of caliber is a guideline only:
· the 308, 30-06, 300 Win Mag with 180 – 200gr bullet: impala, bushbuck, hartebees, zebra, kudu, wildebeest, sable, leopard.
· the 375 with 300 gr and 458 with 510gr bullet for lion, hippo, buffalo, rhino and elephant.
· the 22-250 with 55gr bullet an 243 with 90gr bullet: springbuck and blesbuck
· the 270 with 130gr bullet and 300 Win Mag with 180gr bullet: hartebees, eland and gemsbuck (oryx).
Ensure that the vehicles and equipment to be utilized during your safari are in good shape and fit for the task. Make sure that the method of hunting offered is what you want, i.e. don’t end up with a walk and stalk if that is not part of the original agreement. Establish whether you are you billed separately for each drive or are all drives included in the package irrespective of the number of outings.
Confirm the preferred method of payment i.e. internet bank transfer, credit card or type of acceptable payment. Payment by cheque is in the process to be phased out.
Things to know beforehand are i.a. the following:
· Is electricity available?
· Do you need to provide your own bedding, mosquito net and mosquito repellent?
· Are there telephone facilities? (Land line, cell phone coverage or satellite phone)
· Do they provide handheld or other global positioning systems (GPS)?
· Do you need to provide for your own first aid kit (band aid, bandages, lip-ice, pain killers, anti-diarrhea medicine, broad spectrum antibiotics, petroleum jelly / Vaseline, eye-drops, anti-histamine tablets, flue medicine, sunburn protection, etc.)
· A battery operated alarm clock if no electricity is available.
If the following costs are not included in the cost of daily rates, specify separately:
· transport during the hunt?
· meals and soft drinks; is self- catering an option?
· alcoholic beverages included?
· the services of a qualified PH?
· skinners and trackers?
· preparation of trophies?
Other rates to consider:
· air transfers.
· hotel accommodation before or after the hunt.
· taxidermy cost, dip and ship or mounting.
· export cost of trophies.
· tips to the staff.
· the carcasses on trophy hunts.
· hunting license fees.
· What about your safety and the safety of your property during your stay?
· Are they geared to cope with an emergency? If so, gather all the information such as emergency flights, nearest hospital, are they trained as a paramedic or just trained in first aid?
Quite often your hunt takes place far from the nearest international airport and the safari location far and wide from the nearest town. Some small town or village shops close early in the afternoon and stay closed over weekends. Ensure that your host buy these required items prior to your arrival otherwise it might be inconvenient and you caught in a problematic situation.
Items to remember:
· LED head light / hand held torch with extra batteries.
· Water bottle with 1x liter capacity.
· Hat / camouflage cap
· Hunting clothes (khaki, jeans or camouflage) for each day. Try to avoid black or white clothing as it reflects more light and you become more visible to the animals. A hunting vest may be a great asset to carry additional ammo.
· A warm type windbreaker as it is cold during the winter specially the evenings and early morning. This also depends on which part of Africa you visit.
· Gloves and small scarf.
· Well-worn and comfortable walking boots with thick socks and spare laces.
· Odorless insect repellent to spray your clothes and especially your trousers to keep ticks away.
· Camera or video camera with extra SD cards / flash drives and battery recharge equipment and tripod.
· Laptop to download and secure your recordings and/or photos and to write your diary of the events every day.
· Binoculars, not too heavy or large.
· A Leatherman or good pocket knife.
· Matches or fire lighter.
· Rifle cleaning kit and tools for accessories.
· Gun Tripod / sticks for hunting.
Insist on a formal written contract between the parties. Insist that your lawyer cover the total spectrum of the safari arrangement and ensure that it is sealed and signed before you pay any deposit or depart from home.
Ensure to cover the liability aspect thereof at all times. The host will protect its interest against liability for any damage, losses and expenses suffered by the client as a result of sickness, quarantine, weather conditions, war, strikes, riots or any other cause outside his control, and will not accepts liability in respect of death, injury, loss or damage to person or property arising out of any act, omission or negligence. It is further normal practice to request the client to waive, renounce and abandon any and all right for entitlement which the client may be entitled to under the provisions of the law of the country you intended hunting in including any loss or damage to person or property.
What about your responsibilities? It must be clearly stipulated and ensure that these conditions are fair and that you agree with it.
Remember to add a clause regulating the jurisdiction of how and under what laws disputes will be adjudicated.
Visit our website www.buffalosafarishop.com for more information.
Find More Safari Photography Articles