Over the past year, I have developed a great online friendship with Richter van der linden from African Elite Safaris. HERE is the first interview I did with Richter, back in March. It is no secret that Covid-19 has affected lives and businesses worldwide, and it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that the Guiding/Outfitting, Safari and Fishing Charter businesses have been affected as badly or worse – than any business. I wanted to check in with Richter to see how he was faring. ~DesertRat
1. This Covid has hurt businesses all around the globe. How has it affected your business?
Well, Covid-19 affected the whole tourism around the world, we are mainly in tourism; hunting safaris is what we do. We have a client base of about 70% foreign hunters and 30% South African hunters. 2020 would have been a good year for us but in March 2020 just before the first Clients would have started their safaris, South Africa got shut down due to Covid and all flights were cancelled. We could not hunt even with South African clients for about 7 weeks, if you go and do the math we needed to push a lot of South African Clients to make it in 2020. Good news is we strive in being one of the best and had a lot of referrals from clients so our business could go on and we will be here in 2021 ready for the foreign hunters.
2. Regarding safaris, have some countries been affected worse than others?
I think that regarding safaris all the countries are affected the same, the only difference is that some have opened up their borders for foreign hunters and some have not. We think that South Africa will open late 2020, but there will be strict protocols for foreign hunters to enter South Africa. Like Covid tests not older than 5 days etc.
3. When safaris suffer, how does it affect the locals?
I think this is one of the best questions; to answer this question we need to start at the top and work our way down to the locals. Let me explain: When we are busy with a safaris the following parties are involved, the Outfitter, land owner and workers (locals). African Elite Safaris have 4 families to support total of 14 peoples. The Landowner has a family of 4, and 8 workers (locals) with average of 4 per family so the total of 36 people dependent on safari. We have about 2500 registered Outfitters in South Africa and 10000 game farms, Outfitters and family members with dependents = 35 000 people.
Land owners with workers, family members and dependents= 360 000 peoples.
Hunting in South Africa is worth around one and a half billion dollars a year- more than half of which comes from trophy hunting. Now we can see what the effect of the Covid did only on hunting in South Africa.
4. What are some things you have been doing while business is down? I know you were doing some conservation projects..
Well I did a lot of varminting for surrounding farmers mostly Jackal culling; we also did some culling on game populations which helped the people a lot because game meat was pushed into the market at a lower rate than beef.
African Elite Safaris also donated an Eland cow that we hunted for a homeless soup kitchen, this happened in May 2020.
5. What can sportsmen do to help?
Sportsman can donate some of the meat they harvested to the less privileged people, because what happened in South Africa is that the poor are only worst of than before Covid.
6. Is business picking up at all, or is it still the same as the beginning of the Covid crisis?
Well at the moment business with the local clients is good, we do not have the same turnover as the years before but we will make it. Lucky for us we always have a SA client base = the term “do not burn your bridges” definitely applies. African Elite Safaris also introduced 12 kids to the sport this year with their first bucks from the age of 5-16, it is always a good year when new hunters are born. Some Outfitters only hunted with foreign clients and I think those had a tough year as a result. Below are some of the Trophies we hunted in 2020 with our South African Clients.
We cannot wait for 2021 season to have our foreign hunters coming back to South Africa.
7. Are you running any specials as incentives?
We had some awesome specials for 2021! At the moment we are going to implement them for 2021 that means that all the specials for 2020 will remain the same for 2021. One of our best package special was 6 nights 5 days hunting, 1 Zebra, 1 Waterbuck, 1 Warthog and 1 Impala for $ 3990 – 20%. This was an all-inclusive package.
Im grateful for Richter taking the time to answer some questions and relieved they are surviving the economic impacts of Covid. If an African hunt is on your 2021 Bucket List (or not!) there’s never been a better time to go. Richter and his staff will do an amazing job when you get there and he’s a great resource to create the best hunt for you. They also do ecotours, fishing trips, upland game, etc.
Have a look at their hunting information
Check out their fishing information
Not a hunter? Check out their tours