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NEWS FROM News from Peter Flack
Hunter, Writer, Conservationist, Retired Game Rancher

25 January 2016 | www.peterflack.co.za      Connect with me on Facebook

MY LATEST NEWS

Dear <<First Name>>

On balance, the last few months have been good ones for me and I thought I would share some of this with you. The most pleasing news has been that book sales for the last quarter of 2015 were the best I have ever experienced, almost entirely made up of overseas sales. Local sales have been slow and, when I launched the Sitatunga Book at the Safari & Outdoor outlets in Pretoria and Johannesburg in October last year, they were much less than those at the previous events for the Bushbuck Book the year before. I was concerned and not sure whether it was the state of the South African economy, the book itself or something else. I must confess that I never expected the Sitatunga Book to sell as well as the previous three glamour antelopes – it is far less well known and far fewer people hunt them - in the five book series but, even so, the slow sales took me by surprise. So, good to know the slow sales in RSA was not caused by the book itself but something else. Probably the same ‘something else’ that caused our currency to fall from about 10 to 17 to the US dollar in just over one year!

This was confirmed by sales at the Dallas Safari Club convention in January – one book sale every 15 minutes - which were also the best of the eight consecutive years I have attended and a very pleasant change from last year’s sales, which were my worst. Despite the fact that Dallas is heavily dependent on oil and the dramatic drop in these prices, my own impression was that the show was well attended and South African outfitters did well. This is still my favourite hunting show made more so by the fact that it is almost entirely run by friendly, helpful, go-the-extra-mile, local volunteers who are members of the club, as opposed to professional, paid, indifferent, convention organisers.

Bataleur Award
Then I would like to brag a bit if I may. It is always nice to receive recognition from your peers and I was honoured, humbled and flattered to receive not one but two awards in the last three months. Firstly, the Bataleur Award from SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA), with 40 000 members the largest such body in Africa and the southern hemisphere. The kind letter from the CEO of SAHGCA, Mr Fred Campher, had this to say, “The association decided to make its most prestigious conservation award, the Order of the Bateleur to you in recognition of the conservation work you do and have done over your lifetime.

We really appreciate your contribution to conservation in RSA and it is a privilege, to make this award in recognition of your contribution in this regard.”

In January, 2016, The African Professional Hunters Association gave me their inaugural Selous Award. In his speech at the banquet, organised to make this and three other awards at the Dallas Safari Club Convention, Jason Roussos, vice president and secretary general of the organisation, had this to say:

"Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the African Professional Hunters Association I’m honoured to be here tonight to make the inaugural APHA Selous Award. The APHA is an organization made up of members that represent some of Africa’s top professional hunters. Making this award truly unique, is the fact that it is actually these professional hunters who have nominated and decided the first ever winner of this prestigious award.

Unlike other awards, which determine a winner based on criteria such as species counts and trophy sizes, the Selous Award is fundamentally based on a single criterion – a passion for African hunting.

One cannot quantify passion…..instead one can only feel it and experience it. As a result, there is no better group of people to choose a winner for this award than the people who live, breath and, sometimes, even die for the African hunt. These people are the African PHs themselves.

Finally, I would like to say something about the award itself. With the help of world renowned artist, TD Kelsey, who is an avid African hunter and honorary member of the APHA, we have created an award that embodies what the concept of the Selous Award is all about. Rather than focusing on our quarry, it captures a scene that epitomizes the African hunt. Before the night is over, I suggest you try and catch a glimpse of it. It is a truly magnificent piece of art and only 10 castings will ever be made of this award.

And now fellow hunters, it is truly my honour to announce that the PHs of the African Professional Hunters Association have chosen the first ever winner of Selous Award to be ---- Mr. Peter Flack.

Normally this is the time when accolades are showered upon the recipient and their accomplishments are listed one after the other. However, as I explained earlier, achievement is not what this award is about. This award is about what is in here….your heart. And Peter, I cannot think of a more worthy winner…. congratulations.”

What can I say but that this has been the cherry on top of the cream on top of the cake. When you have a look at the APHA 2016 guide, view their membership, the cream of professional hunters in Africa – their president is the former president of France, Giscard D’estaing - note the strong stance they have taken early on against canned killings and the intensive breeding and domestication of wildlife to produce animals with exaggerated horn lengths and unnatural colour variants, you know this is an organisation any hunter would be proud to belong to. For me to receive an award such as this, from the men and women I admire most in the African hunting fields, is something I will always cherish. All I have to do now is to work out how to pay for TD’s brilliant statue!

My ninth and probably last, consecutive, annual hunt for an elusive, plus 30 inch common nyala, said to be hiding under every second tree in Mocambique’s sand forests in the Zambezi Delta, was as disappointing as my previous year’s hunt for Livingstone’s eland in Mocambique’s Niassa National Reserve was delightful. If I compare the two hunts they were almost diametrically opposite. This time my entry and exit from Mocambique was difficult, time consuming and unpleasant, the camp I occupied was hot, grubby and uncomfortable and the runaway veld fires, which burned every day throughout the concession, ultimately destroying nearly 80% of it, changed game patterns and I did not see a nyala remotely close to the magical 30 inch mark. This was compounded by the ever present daily signs of rampant and unremitting poaching which, time and again, sucked the joy out of being in the bush. While it is true that the Chinese seem to be behind virtually all the poaching of natural resources in the country – from fish to timber to wildlife - the Mocambique government is rapidly acquiring the well-deserved reputation as eager and willing aiders and abetters of these rapacious army ant lookalikes - they destroy everything in their path!

We had an excellent, well attended meeting at the offices of SA Hunters in Pretoria and they are keen to host the new unashamedly ethical hunting body, which many of us are keen to form to implement a well thought out public relations strategy, managed by a professional PR firm, to promote hunting as well as providing support for clearly identified conservation programs and hunting education for youngsters. A number of attendees were tasked to prepare various documents by the end of this month and a follow up meeting is due to be held in Pretoria next month with a view to forming the body, which is provisionally being called the Fair Chase Guild, by April.

I attended a breakfast meeting in Dallas with the current and immediate past president of CIC and was interested to hear that there are moves afoot to establish a global body to co-ordinate public relations efforts of the various major hunting organisations worldwide. I also spent time with George Chamblee, a past president of the Dallas Safari Club, who is actively involved with the Dallas Ecological Foundation, which currently is responsible for bringing hunting education courses to some 25 000 school children in Texas. They hope to double the number of children attending these courses in the next three years and extend it to schools outside Texas. This is certainly something I would like the Fair Chase Guild to look at during the course of the year.

I was interviewed by the very professional team from the BBC World Service in December and then chosen to be part of the program, The Why Factor. The program was broadcast on New Year’s Day under the heading, Hunting. Why do we hunt? Why do we kill animals when we no longer need to do so to eat? See the link - www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03bg3lt - You can listen to and download the program until 7 February, 2016.

It is clear that there is a lot of confusion amongst non-hunters about trophy hunting, as opposed to culling or hunting for food. This was brought home to me at a recent dinner with Shane Mahoney. Shane is the world famous, Canadian, wildlife biologist who produced the North American Conservation Model and then collaborated with me to produce and narrate The South African Conservation Success Story. His research shows that, in North America, nearly 80% of people approve of those who hunt for food. This drops to just over 50% for those who hunt for sport and plummets to 22% for those who hunt for trophies, despite the fact that supposed meat hunters try hard to and enjoy hunting big animals and sometimes keep a memento of them and that supposed trophy hunters and the people who guide them eat the meat of the animals they hunt. I have written an article on this topic which will be published in SA Hunter - rapidly becoming one of, if not the, best hunting magazine in Africa - in the near future. Please watch out for it.

The layout of the Bongo Nyala Book is well under way and we are on track to have it out on the shelves in October. I have made a start on the Buffalo Book and already started to receive contributions and photos. I am very excited about the book as the stories thus far, written especially for the book, are exciting, true and contain many helpful hints on how to hunt these behemoths. The Bongo Nyala book is such a big book and took so much time and effort to complete on time that I wondered out loud whether it might not be my second last book – I was already committed to the Buffalo Book – but a break and the buffalo articles and photos I have seen have given me new life. We will have to see. At any rate, my wife, Jane, has been encouraging me to carry on. She says too many people want me to do so. I am not sure whether she is being honest, flattering me or merely concerned that, if I stop writing, I may end up getting under her feet. We will have to wait and see.

At any rate, I am back in training for my forest sitatunga hunt in the Republic of Congo with Christophe Beau in July and have just booked my favourite hunt for Lord Derby’s eland with Franz Coupe in January/February 2017 in Cameroon. So you can see that I am more than hopeful that the heart surgery which awaits me next Friday in the UCT Private Hospital will be a big success and I will be able to lead a more normal life once again.

Kind Regards,

Copyright © 2016 Peter Flack, All rights reserved.


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