How did the season go in Zimbabwe this year? As this issue went to press, authorities were still totaling up the figures and measuring trophies, but it is safe to say the end-of-year results were satisfactory. Given the political background, that is good news indeed.
"Generally speaking, the industry seems fairly satisfied with the past season," is how ZATSO's Sally Bown put it near press time. "Financial constraints caused by inflation pose the greatest problem to operators. But we're still here. And everyone is cautiously optimistic about 2005."
A full rundown on exceptional trophies was not available at press time, but Bown said she was personally aware of the following animals having been taken in Zimbabwe this past season. Figures given are ivory weights or unofficial SCI scores: Elephants (82 x 93 pounds; 81 x 78.5 pounds; 78.5 x 77.5 pounds; 70.5 x 79.5 pounds; and 52.89 x 48.49 pounds); Lion: (26 3/16 - tied for No. 14 in the book); Leopard: (18 8/16; and 17 - the former ties the No. 4 animal in the book and the latter ties No. 23); and kudu (151 4/8 - No. 4 in the book).
So, how does one square results like this with the constant flow of bad news from Zimbabwe? "The simple truth is, there is still a lot of good hunting in this country, especially on public land," Bown said. "And it has been overshadowed by the bad news that has gotten out about game conditions on some private properties."
Also muddying the water, she said, is continuing turmoil surrounding certain South African companies attempting to operate illegally in Zimbabwe. "Foreign companies are simply not allowed to operate here, and you need to tell your subscribers that. Any non-Zimbabwean company that is presenting itself as an outfitter in this country is misrepresenting what........(continued)