A Trophy Is a Token of that Experience

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By Surihe Gaomas ROOIKRAAL Trophy hunting is not only an interesting hobby but the memory of big trophies, the pictures and friends that hunting expeditions gather along the way, add an exciting twist to Hawaiian tourist, Richard Dick May’s life. Rooted in a life-long fascination for wild animals, hunting for 63-year-old May equals a 30-years-old love affair. The passion is not only in finding interesting trophies, but learning about nature’s diversities, graciously offered by a country like Namibia. A self-acclaimed recreational hunter, May is on his first hunting expedition in the country. His mission is one of the best hunting safaris in the Omaheke Region; the Rooikraal Game Reserve operated by Hunters Namibia Safaris, east of the capital, Windhoek, in the Omitara district. If you think trophy hunting for a tourist is just the collection of many trophies, you are mistaken. It is more about living the safari experience and becoming one with nature. “It is like an enduring reminder of the wonderful experience that one has watching the animals and since I’m interested in birdlife as well, I am looking forward to see new species as well,” says May wearing a smile. Taking home a trophy is just a token of that entire experience at the end of the day. “I am first a conservationist, then secondly a hunter,” he adds. Accompanied by his son, Mike, all the way from Germany, May was looking forward to a rather interesting and fulfilling experience at Hunters Namibia Safaris owned by the Namibian Lamprecht family. With years of trophy hunting experience behind him, May, a Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Paci-fic regional manager based in Honolulu, says he has done similar ventures in countries like Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Canada, United States, India and Sri Lanka. Through his hunting expeditions, and with the guidance of professional hunters, May has taken down several hundred wild game. Among the ones he wanted to take in from Namibia are a kudu, gemsbok, eland and hartebeest. “Let’s go out and enjoy the hunt,” enthuses the tourist clad in a naturally khaki outfit and armed with a 3.33 rifle. Whilst in Namibia he undertook a 14-day hunting experience and seven-day safari experience. Trophy hunting is today seen as a big lucrative business in the country. Tourists do not only come here to hunt but spend foreign currencies on buying souvenirs and other tokens to take home. May says since Namibia is a peaceful, stable and democratic country, more trophy hunters would feel more inclined to come and conduct their expeditions here. He chose the Lamprecht family’s reserve on recommendation by other tourists. “You need to have time to relax and enjoy by spending at least two to three weeks here in Namibia. The benefits, unlike most countries, are the wide open spaces. Trophy hunting is therefore more than just the animals,” he explains. In the same vein, he adds that trophy hunting is more about conservation where only the oldest wild games are taken by professional hunters to allow younger bulls to herd the troops. At the same time while the horns or trophy would be of interest to a hunting tourist to take home, the communities staying on the hunting ranch use the rest of the meat. “I’m only interested in the old animals (old bulls) that have already contributed their genes to the herd. As hunting tourists we look at the health of the animal and the land they survive on. Nothing is wasted and I will only take home the horns (trophy) and the hides and meat will be used by the communities,” explains May pleased over the whole conservation aspect behind trophy hunting. This is what’s called effective game management based on the principle of conservation through selective hunting. Although May took most of the trophies he wanted, he was keen to come back to Namibia for another exciting experience with his entire family. After all, trophy hunting is not only about hunting but the safari experience.