Row Over Treatment Of African Trophies


Published: December - 2000

Carl Schwarz, Jr. writes: My father always used to tell me that trophies from Africa are handled better than the average whitetail from Missouri. However, that was back when there were far fewer professional hunters and outfitters in Africa. These hunter/outfitters skinned, trimmed, salted and prepared the skins for shipment themselves. Today, in many African countries, professional hunters have no control over the skins after they leave their camps. Skins nowadays are prepared for shipment overseas by third parties, who quite often happen to be taxidermists.

Pardon my conspiracy theory here, but it is a fact that these taxidermists are losing business every time they ship a skin overseas. What alarms me about this the most is, a lot of these taxidermists (especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe) are dipping skins in some kind of solution to disinfect them, instead of dusting them with a powder in the traditional method. (Don Causey Note: We are still checking to see if dusting versus dipping is allowed in all exporting countries.) In fact, I don't believe that the skins are just being dipped; I believe they are being soaked! Worse yet, there is some evidence to suggest they are using formaldehyde in the process. This stiffens the skins and makes them almost unworkable. The end result is, these skins are virtually untannable when they reach the United States.

Both of the professional tanneries that I deal with have complained bitterly to me that the skins they are getting from some parts of Africa now will not rehydrate (soak up liquid), and thus cannot be properly thinned down and soft tanned. The skins I am receiving back from the tanneries are stiff and have no stretch or elasticity. They are very difficult to mount and certainly cannot be stretched back out to the animal's original size.

I just received a shipment back from one of the tanneries I use. It contained, among other things, two blesbok capes. One was from South Africa (dipped) and the other was from Namibia (dry powder). The difference is startling! The........(continued)

 
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