Next door in Congo Brazzaville, those hunting safaris Gert Saaiman has been conducting have been put on hold. Subscriber Alden Glidden was scheduled to hunt in Congo in mid-August, but literally as he was preparing to leave, he received word that his hunt was cancelled. The reason was a problem with firearm and vehicle permits. In a telephone call to me from Africa, Saaiman said he'd run into a situation with the local police near his concession. He says that despite having all his paperwork in order, the police confiscated all of his camp rifles, and he has been working to get them released ever since. Saaiman blames a conflict with a wildlife conservation organization in a neighboring area. He says this NGO is unhappy to see a hunting operation set up shop in Congo and has been problematic, possibly exerting its influence with the local police. Indeed, I had heard that NGOs in Congo Brazzaville were unhappy that bongo had been allocated for hunting and were questioning the process by which Saaiman received his quota. As for getting the situation resolved, Saaiman says forestry officials in Brazzaville assured him that everything was in order in early August and that he could claim his firearms. But when Saaiman's representative arrived at the police station (more than 500 miles/900 kilometers from Brazzaville), the police refused to release the firearms because they did not believe the paperwork was authentic. At that point, Saaiman decided to cancel the hunt before Glidden and his partner left the United States. "I thought it was best to stop them from coming rather than to let them get to Congo and not be able to hunt," he told me. Saaiman says he will make Glidden and his friend whole, reimbursing them for lost airfare and providing the hunt as he promised but at a later date. Glidden is understandably a bit put out, as he lost all the vacation time he set aside for this hunt.
Additionally, this hunt in Congo was supposed to be a make-up for a safari in Mozambique that Saaiman canceled when he........(continued)