Electric excitement telegraphed from Botswana last month when a bona fide 100-pound elephant hit the ground in the first week of the hunting season. “It is no longer a myth or rumor,” Tharia Unwin wrote in a press release from Johan Calitz Hunting Safaris. “The BIG ONES are still out there!” E-mail Extra subscribers received a photo of the monster jumbo just after it was taken by Mexican hunter Manuel Pariente Gavito. It was officially weighed and measured by Debbie Peak of Mochaba Developments, who set the weight at an amazing 104 x 99 pounds. The full length of the tusks is 77.3 x 77.4 inches and the lip-to-tip measurement is 50.4 x 50.3 inches. The circumference is 21.7 and 21.1 inches. (See photo in Trophy Gallery section of our web site.)
Gavito hunted from the Joverega camp in NG41, also known as the African Field Sports concession, operated by Johan Calitz Safaris (011-27-56-2131633; www.johancalitzsafaris.co.za). The PH was Willy McDonald, booking agent Jay Leyendecker of Under the Sun Hunt Consultants and Wildlife Biologists (956-337-2808; http://underthesunhunts.com). According to the account sent to me, Gavito’s hunting party had just managed to free their hunting vehicle from the mud when they caught a brief glimpse of two elephant bulls, a young askari and a much older bull. After a pursuit on foot, Gavito got a clear shot at the big bull as it loomed out of some thick scrub.
NG41 is one of three community-based areas that Calitz is hunting. You may recall from my January report that a number of important government concessions in Botswana were closed to hunting, but the contracts for community-based areas like NG41 are good for the next three years. While many in the hunting community predict these community areas will be closed as well, operators in Botswana remain positive that elephant hunting will continue there, though possibly in different areas. There are many places within the elephant range in Botswana that are simply not conducive to eco-tourism/photo-safari activities. The terrain or cover in these areas simply does not provide the game viewing opportunities that these kinds of tourists expect. They are, however, perfectly conducive to hunting, and operators there say hunting remains a valuable contributor to conservation and to the economy of Botswana.
Jim Van Rensburg of Kgori Safaris (011-267-686-2049; www.kgorisafaris.com) is one of these operators. He owns the government concession NG43 and has three years left on his lease. NG43 borders the Okavango Delta and may possibly be at risk of becoming a single purpose area in the future. Despite that, Van Rensburg says his quota for 2010 was increased, not just for elephant but also for buffalo and plains game. “This gives us a sense of optimism,” he said. “Elephant hunting will continue in Botswana. With the right, meaningful dialogue with government, constant scientific input, and hard work from the hunting industry’s side, the rest also can be saved.....