A Report On Those First Hunts in Congo


Published: November - 2011

I you told in the September issue of The Hunting Report that Gert Saaiman had run into some problems conducting his first hunting safaris in the Republic of Congo. Subscriber Alden Glidden's hunt there in August was canceled because authorities had confiscated the firearms in Saaiman's camp, and Saaiman was unsuccessful getting them released. I have now spoken with the two Hunting Report subscribers who were there when the military police took those guns and later forced everyone to leave the camp.

Bob Caudle and Van Johnson were in Congo July 8-19, 2011. They were accompanied by South African PH Lambert van Straaten, who arranged the hunt. Like Glidden, the group had originally booked a hunt in Mozambique, but when Saaiman lost access to his concession there, they were offered a safari to Congo instead. When Caudle and Johnson arrived in Johannesburg before flying to Brazzaville, Caudle says they were told not to bring their own firearms, because "it had become difficult to import them." Caudle says they were not informed of any other problems. The first trouble they encountered was in Ouesso, after flying in from Brazzaville. Both Caudle and Johnson say they were immediately singled out and confronted by a man who demanded to see their passports. "He didn't have an identification badge or a uniform, but he took our passports and began walking away," Johnson tells me. They followed the man, despite being told there was no need to go with him. They ended up in "a dirt-floor hut" where an official took possession of their passports. Saaiman's PH, Andre Van Deventer, arrived protesting the official's demand for payment to release the passports. According to Caudle, Van Deventer was physically thrown from the hut. "Van Deventer called his fixer,' Edgar, on his cell phone. When he handed the phone to the officials so they could talk to Edgar, the phone was promptly thrown against the wall and flew apart. This was our first impression of the relationship Saaiman and company had with the Congolese," says Caudle.

Fortunately, there was a Congolese taxi-driver present who spoke English and........(continued)

 
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