I met with Congo's Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas Claude Etienne Massimba to discuss hunting there and the problems experienced during the first season since the reopening. The meeting took place at the Safari Club International (SCI) Convention last month and was facilitated by the SCI Conservation Committee, through Cam Grieg. The committee, I'm told, wants to assist with conservation projects and the reopening of hunting in Congo. Grieg went to great lengths to ensure Massimba attended the convention. Naturally, Director Massimba wished to discuss our recent coverage of Congo and the future of hunting there, on which he is quite bullish. He told me he sees hunting as an important part of Congo's developing conservation efforts, and he wants Hunting Report subscribers to know what is being done to provide a better experience than what Bob Caudle and Van Johnson (see hunt report 8365) had on the first safaris conducted there this past season by Gert Saaiman (011-27-12-346-8055; firstname.lastname@example.org). You can re-read all about those hunts in the November issue of The Hunting Report. (See Article ID 2755.) I won't rehash the problems they experienced, but suffice it to say that Massimba told me that Saaiman definitely has the concession rights and quota for the area he is hunting, and everyone concerned has been informed of that. He also made clear to me that the uniformed authorities who confronted the hunters and Saaiman's partner and PH, Andre Van Deventer, were not military or local police but rather conservation officers from Massimba's own department.
The camp firearms were taken from them, he said, because the firearms permits had not been finalized. The hunters were asked to leave camp because hunting licenses in Congo are linked to firearms permits, and they were, essentially hunting without a license. Those issues have since been resolved, and Saaiman and Van Deventer should be able to conduct safaris this season without these problems.
I found Andre Van Deventer at the convention, and we discussed these issues. He says he and Saaiman thought they had everything they needed, as they........(continued)