Dear <<First Name>>
It’s been almost a year since my last Newsletter and, a few weeks ago, I attended my fourth Dallas Safari Club Convention to officially launch the second in the spiral horn series, Hunting the Spiral Horns – Eland, Everymans Elephant. Apart from the usual scare as to whether the books were going to make it to the show on time, it was by far the best of the shows that I have attended. All my books that were taken to the show, including the Eland Book, were sold by the Sunday morning. A first for me and I was very pleased at the reception the Eland book received both at the show and by the five magazines who reviewed it.
The main topic of conversation was the auction of a Namibian black rhino and the convention organisers obviously took the threats by animal rightists to disrupt the show seriously, as the convention centre was surrounded by a high fence and barriers. Not one put in an appearance but their threats did deprive the Namibian government of substantial revenue for the conservation of these iconic animals as a number of bidders, who had indicated their willingness to bid substantially more than the winning bid of $350 000, did not do so out of concern that they and their families might be targeted by these blustering bigots. I was informed that a member of the club had told the organisers he was prepared to bid as high as $1 million and, apparently, he could easily have afforded it.
Years ago I hired two trackers from Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia and tracked a free range black rhino on foot in a remote part of the country. Armed with my trusty Nikon, we caught up to the beast in the afternoon and I was able to take a number of shots from close range. It was an exciting and never to be forgotten experience and I envy the man who won the bidding. This will be a genuine, free range, fair chase hunt for an old animal, in all likelihood out of the breeding cycle, and the money will go to the conservation of these endangered animals.
The owner of Rowland Ward has indicated that she is thinking of making changes to the business next year and so, given the success of the spiral horn series, I have decided to publish, market, distribute and sell my books myself. I do not particularly want to do so but, having spoken to one or two people in the publishing business, I have come to the conclusion that authors are, for the most part, merely seen as cows to be milked. While I have never made the mistake of thinking that writing was going to provide me with a means of making a living, I would prefer to work for myself rather than for someone else, particularly if they expect me to effectively pay them for the privilege. They seem to think that I have the money and they have the experience and they would like to organise a swop.
My tenure as a co-editor of African Indaba (AI) was very short-lived and I resigned the post and my membership of CIC simultaneously. I was accused of not being sufficiently diplomatic and tactful and the accusations were correct, especially if they meant I did not take kindly to being told what to write and how to write it. The matter in question related to the egregious cancellation of hunting in Zambia. For those of you who may be interested, I attach the article that gave rise to the difference of opinion and which, after amending it a number of times, became such a pale shadow of what it was that I could no longer go along with the demands. Having said that, I still have a great respect and liking for Gerhard Damm, the founder of AI and will continue to write the odd article for him.
In this regard, the attempt by the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) to persuade people that their recent approval of the “hunting” of captive bred lions is anything other than the killing of canned lions by a different name and which was previously banned by the organisation in 2006, is a cause for real concern and Gerhard and I have written and will continue to write on this topic in the months ahead in AI, including publishing the response of PHASA itself to our article as well as bodies such as WWF Southern Africa and the SA Wildlife College. The initial article in AI can be read by following the link – www.africanindaba.co.za.
My hunting has really taken a back seat to my writing since I started the spiral horn book project and committed to writing a book a year. Last year, however, I combined the two and went on a Cape bushbuck hunt with my old friend, that expert spiral horn hunter, Peter Kennedy – who incidentally wrote the How To chapter in Hunting the Spiral Horns – Bushbuck, The Little Big Buck, which is currently in production and is due out in September/October. We had a wonderful week together in the massive free range Umkomaas and Nhlamvini Valleys, which have not been kind to me on the previous two occasions I have hunted them but, this time, they and Pete delivered and I found the legendary bushbuck called The Donkey, so named because he was so big and old and grey and which others had hunted without success over the preceding four or five years. Magnum will carry a copy of the story in the coming months.
My wife has often accused me of suffering from the worst case of arrested development that she knows of because everything I really like revolves around guns and cars. As I have started work on the fourth in the series – Hunting the Spiral Horns – Sitatunga, The Shy, Sly, Secretive One and am ahead of schedule, I have planned to take off a bit more time this year and have a number of trips planned as I am determined not to descend into a boring dullness if I can help it. But more about those in the next newsletter.