(Editor Note: Hunting Report President/Publisher Don Causey filed the following report on new developments in Africa.)
What is going to happen in Zimbabwe and what should I do about a hunt I have booked there? That was a question I was getting as this issue went to press. More than likely, by the time you read this, election tensions will be over and the way forward will be clear. If not, the advice we have given before still stands – namely, stay in touch with your outfitter. Do so right up until the time you book your flight. Another good contact is SOAZ – Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe. You can reach SOAZ at 011-263-4-702-402, dialed from the US. Sally Bown is an excellent person to ask for.
Once in the country, do not discuss politics at all, even with your PH if others are listening. Avoid public gatherings and try to arrange to be met at your arrival airport. A new wrinkle in the warnings emanating from the US Embassy in Harare is to be careful taking photos of anything that could be interpreted as controversial. Your best bet may be to keep your camera hidden in urban areas. The value of this warning about photographic equipment was borne out by a note we received from a subscriber last month who said the individual he brought with him to film his safari was held up at the airport. You can expect that if you are traveling with equipment that could be used for shooting news footage. The current government is extraordinarily sensitive to negative news coverage. Don’t do anything that would result in your activities being viewed as surreptitious news coverage. You could be jailed for that.
The situation in Zimbabwe is murky indeed, but it is worth keeping in mind that to date (April 21) the US State Department has not issued a formal Travel Warning. You can see if that has changed by going to our web site and clicking on Recent Travel Warnings. While you are there, you may want to click your way to that part of the web site where the latest information on Zimbabwe is available. In particular, look for a section devoted to Warden’s Messages. The URL is http://harare.usembassy.gov/warden2008.html. The Embassy in Harare has been issuing travel-related bulletins on Zimbabwe on a regular basis. It had issued three in April alone as this issue went to press.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the possible downside of visiting Zimbabwe because, at this writing hunters are continuing to come and go. That will almost certainly be the case when you read this. I do not have sufficient information to advise anyone what to do about a booked safari to Zimbabwe, but I can tell you on April 21 that I would still go there myself, and I would take my wife with me.
Next door in South Africa, the new President of PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa), Peter Butland, has taken huge exception to the report I wrote last month about captive-bred lion hunting in that country. The report, you’ll recall, reassured would-be captive-bred lion hunters that already booked hunts for 2008 will be honored irrespective of the outcome of the lawsuit that has been filed by the South African Predator Breeders Association (SAPBA). SAPBA is challenging the government ruling that captive-bred lions have to be released two years before they can be shot. SAPBA wants that period reduced to six months.....