Last month I told you that at least two operators had carried out hunting safaris in the Central African Republic this past January/February despite the activities of the rebel group Seleka. You'll recall this rebel group swept through the countryside and threatened to take Bangui if President Francois Bozize did not step down. They have since done so; more on that in a moment. However, despite the unrest, it seems there was a third operator who successfully carried out safaris during this upheaval, namely Dave Rademeyer of Northern Operations Africa (305-733-1873; www.northernoperationsafrica.com). Despite postponing his first group (scheduled for January 3), just as peace talks with Seleka leaders were underway, Rademeyer ran four other safaris in a partnership of sorts with Central African Wildlife Adventures (CAWA), one of the other companies that conducted hunts there this season. Rademeyer says that while he uses CAWA's infrastructure, his clients hunt an area exclusive to Northern Operations Africa (NOA) and are guided by NOA PHs Pete Wood and Thierry Labat. They report producing some very good trophies for clients, including a 51 3/8 inch Lord Derby eland for Steve Bridges, a seven-inch yellow-backed duiker that may be the new number 10 SCI for Dennis Leistico, and a Lelwel hartebeest that should also make the new number 10 for Dennis Campbell. (See photos in our online Trophy Gallery.)
Like CAWA, NOA operates in southwestern CAR. This region of the country was untouched by the rebels. Seleka had marched southwest from Oudad, N'Délé and Kabo in the north, completely bypassing the area hunted by CAWA and NOA. Despite this, their clients still had to enter and exit the country through Bangui.
Literally as our April issue went to press in late March, the Seleka rebels had abandoned the peace accord with President Bozize and taken over Bangui. There were several days of unrest, in which about 70 people were reported killed and numerous businesses, and storage and parking facilities were looted. CAWA reportedly had clients in the field at the time. While they were perfectly safe, they had to wait several days before returning to........(continued)