Problems For West African Safaris


Published: January - 2001

We have been wrestling with the question of how to report what is going on in Liberia. Seems copies of an official-looking letter from that country have been circulating, informing Tom Banks of West African Safaris, Inc. that his permission to conduct eco-tourism safaris has been revoked because of his failure to meet certain financial obligations. The letter is dated July 12, 2000, and is signed by the Managing Director of the Forest Development Authority. Further complicating things is some static being created by a former partner of Banks, Morris Dougba, who claims to be setting up a safari company of his own.

The Liberia confusion needs to be sorted out quickly because Banks has a large number of clients booked into Liberia this year, and many others prepared to pay deposits as soon as they feel more comfortable about the overall situation. Is Banks going to make it? Is Dougba a serious competitor? Should you, after all, book a safari into this country?

Here at The Hunting Report, we simply don't think it's possible to be definitive about Liberia right now. However, we do feel we have a better handle on the whole situation after a long phone conversation with bush pilot Bill Nesler, who has operated a charter service in Liberia for 20 years. Nesler used to fly clients into the forest camp of Harry Gilmore, back when he operated duiker hunts here, so he has the closest thing we have found to a historical perspective on what Banks is trying to do in Liberia.

Nesler says Banks has the support of many people in Liberia, and "...they want to work with him." The current brouhaha over nonpayment of fees is being smoothed out, he says, laying much of the blame for it on some "bad business associates" Banks had the misfortune to ally himself with. When we spoke with Nesler in late December, he had just returned from a trip to Liberia devoted to helping Banks sort out the financial mess. He says most of the monies outstanding are owed to........(continued)

 
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