Both of these area withdrawals, occurring as they have in mid-season, have caused major disruptions in clients' hunting plans. They have also heightened some observers' concern about the overall stability of the industry. The word we have is, at least two more companies may be in danger of losing their areas.
So, what is behind the rash of area cancellations? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Some say non-Zambian companies have been targeted. Others say a clique in the hunting industry is using political connections to get back what it lost in the last area allocation. Still others say the area cancellations are valid steps that needed to be taken against companies that had misbehaved.
Reached in Lusaka last month shortly after the lease announcement, Leopard Ridge's Greg Michel- son said the latter reason certainly didn't apply to his company. He said the charges lodged against his company simply weren't true. Moreover, he said ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) had overstepped its authority in the way it went about terminating his lease.
We are challenging ZAWA in court for the way they handled this, Michelson said. We feel pretty confident we can get at least a stay of execution. After that, we plan to fight this to the bitter end.
Michelson went on to say that booked clients had no reason to fear for their deposits. ZAWA allowed him to finish ongoing safaris, he said, and only one other client had arrived since the lease termination. That client was re-booked into the Chiawa area, where his safari was conducted by Royal Zambezi Safaris.........(continued)