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Congo – A First-Hand Report From A Chasse Libre Hunter
(posted July - 2011)
 

The Republic of Congo has been on The Hunting Report's radar since Gert Saaiman of Saaiman Safaris (shsafari@mweb.co.za; www.saaimanhunting.com) told me he would be conducting organized safaris there this season. You may recall that such ventures ended when Eric Stockenstroom of Congo Safaris pulled out in the early 2000s due to problems getting sufficient quota and permits from the new government there. Word reaching me now is that Saaiman has completed his first safaris, although I have no other information on how they went. Saaiman had told me that he would be hunting bongo among other desirable species, but I have since heard that while permits for bongo are "in process," they have not been issued yet. Hunting in Congo is definitely open, however, and I received a fascinating report on a chasse libre hunt there conducted recently by Cam Grieg. Continuing subscribers know Grieg has been organizing old-fashioned, self-guided, portered hunts in Cameroon for years. Having lived and worked in this part of the world, Grieg has an intimate knowledge of the cultures and people and is able to function effectively there. He e-mailed me fresh out of the jungle:

"There seems to be a buzz about Congo Brazzaville 'opening up.' Well, that is not really the case, as it never really closed. Hunting permits have always been available for chasse libre hunts. The government just chose to make it impossible for a professional hunter to make a profitable business there, so Stockenstroom quit. I know, because I was at the meeting with the government and the NGO where the bongo permits issued to him were reduced from eight to two. With only two permits for the species most coveted, Stockenstroom could not make a go of the business and left the country. It was a shame because he had a well-thought-out conservation program where he was actually saving way more bongo than he was harvesting. But the very presence of a hunter was not acceptable to the NGO there, and they put considerable pressure on the government to pull his permits. It worked. Stockenstroom left, and the poachers came in to replace him with market hunting of all species, including gorilla, chimps and elephants.....


  


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