A Matter of Trust…
Trust – firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something
When you’re buying something – particularly the higher it is in value – this underlying element of trust is becoming all too important. The world is offering more of everything. Promises are spouted, choices abound. Everyone and anyone is being told everything and anything. Decisions become difficult. Once great bastions of truth – like BBC, CNN – distort the facts for the sake of agendas, viewers and stakeholders.
With international travel to Africa, when your precious time and personal cash is spent on a classic safari – the last thing you want is to be sold is some story. How do you tell who has got what concession, or the exclusive right to hunt where they say they have? Or have even got their license from that country’s association? Forums exist, but many use pseudonyms, and right of reply is seldom offered before there is trial by media. Associations exist, but don’t have enough clout. Ethics committees abound – but with well over ten thousand hunters to Africa each year – how many rotten apples are removed?
With offering peace of mind, we launched the Visited & Verified Program. There’s no grading system for now – it was merely a means to independently confirm, via our platforms, what the Outfitter said they offered. Our reputation was on the line.
While there’s space for all types of hunting operations and areas, just like any restaurant, hotel, tourist attraction or motor vehicle for that matter, simply state what it is that you offer. Don’t say with a straight face you are a Mercedes, when you’re a Toyota and have stuck a star badge on the hood. We know it happens, and thankfully the V&V program has gone some way to alleviate the problem. Our goal is to move this forward.
While everyone is a publisher, or a journalist, and there is too much keyboard courage and cyber ranting, we want to offer a refuge for those serious about hunting in Africa. As we expand the program, we will do what we can to build on that age-old quality that is all too quickly eroding in today’s world. Billy Joel sang about it in his 1986 hit, A Matter of Trust. And for us – promoting safaris to this great continent is what we do, so we take this seriously, and it is a matter of trust.
The Story of Two Shoe Salesmen in Africa – Once upon a time, a shoe company sent two salesmen to Africa to determine the market potential for their products. One salesman was sent to the east coast of Africa, while the other was sent to the west coast. Both the salesmen completed a basic survey of the target market and called back to the office. The salesman sent to the east coast of Africa reported, “No one here wears any shoes, there is no market for us here!” The other salesman sent a message, “No one here wears any shoes, there is a huge market for us, send inventory fast!” And so, the story went. Different perceptions of potential with the same scenario.
For those sitting in the northern hemisphere and reading this – there has never been a better time to visit Africa. I keep saying this, and each time there are more reasons: The currency exchange rate, the declining cost of game, (essentially an economic factor of constant demand and rising supply), the increasing number and frequency of airlines to Africa, and then the low barriers to entry for PHs and Outfitters to ‘get into’ this industry. Game farm owners are becoming hunting outfitters, wealthy businessmen are becoming game farmers – you name it, the reasons are many. Yet, the outfitters tend to bemoan the fact that competitors respond to the economic reality of rising supply and discount their hunts.
I flew to the USA from South Africa, via UK in May 1993 to start a summer internship at 3M, Minnesota. At an exchange rate of 3.18 SA Rand to the US$, it was $943. I have googled the cheapest flight right now, and it is SAR 11 073 to get to the USA, and at today’s exchange of 14.41 to the US$ – that would mean my flight would be $768. More than 20% cheaper than it was 26 years ago!
This continent offers so much, as each area opens up – be it wilderness areas in Zambia, Botswana lifting its ban, Mozambique’s Zambeze Delta team managing the greatest relocation of lions, ever – or South Africa’s Karoo, of all places, offering a wonderland of big open skies. The potential abounds. Wildlife is hardy and survives in extreme areas, Namibia’s desert game being the best example. And so, hunters, if you know of friends that have dreamt of hunting our great continent – there really is no better time. We challenge you – in fact politely beg you to tell your buddies, share this magazine, or electronically send it from our website to your contacts – just spread the word.
Outfitters and professional hunters. If the fish are not biting, or they appear smaller than before – it is time to explore new waters. There are hunters from across the globe that are nuts about Africa. We see them at Afton Guest House, from Slovakia to Sweden, Argentina to Australia. When you are presenting the diversity and wealth of our wildlife, our scenery, people and weather, the odds are stacked in your favour. Period.
Our mission and my job is to promote hunting in Africa, and 2019 will be a telling time. We will be unveiling a plan to promote this continent and outfitters, not only to our primary markets – but to establish larger secondary markets and, equally important, to new and potential markets. We started it in Canada 10 years back, so we know there is potential. We can’t do it alone and we will be working with the industry we are a part of and so committed to. So, as you read through the next hundred and something pages – please bear in mind that this is the turning point. We are on a mission. And like the shoe salesman who noted nobody wore shoes in Africa – “bring more inventory!”