Fortunately, there is still time this year for clients to decide what to do about 2008 safaris. And that means I have time, too, to refine my recommendation. But, for the re- cord, here is what I am edging toward as a position on CAR. I do not think it is productive, or smart, for safari operators in CAR to be openly linked to para-military organizations conducting lethal anti-poaching efforts. Not only are the Arab poachers, in my view, too numerous and well-armed to be repelled by a private force, but trying to do so turns hunting blocks into war-like zones, too dangerous for all but adrenalin junkies to enter.
I am still open to all suggestions on CAR, and to positive developments that may make the above position moot. For one thing, international news media are suggesting that the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, may lend his support to re-authorizing a European Union force that was carrying out more effectively the operations now being performed by private militias.
Barring that, our interim recommendation is that would-be CAR clients grill their intended operators about on-the-ground conditions in their areas. Are Arab poachers present? Have there been armed confrontations with them?........(continued)