Trophy shipping costs
For decades our industry has faced, and continues to face, headwinds. Social media, the ‘Antis’, CITES and USFW regulations, industry’s infighting, controversies about color variants and captive-bred lions – you name it. Yet, despite all this – Africa and all she has to offer is where big game hunters still dream of coming. But for how long?
There is one growing danger that I am not sure our industry has fully taken on board. It’s possibly our biggest threat. Something that will for sure prevent African hunting reaching its full potential if left unchecked. And that is the cost of shipping.
It is no surprise that everything about the experience and memories of an international big-game trophy hunter centers around the trophy – particularly as, for years to come, that trophy is there to be admired with fond memories. Sure, some folks come for just the hunt, experiencing Africa’s wilderness, her wildlife, the stalk and finally the kill. But the majority want their trophy back home.
For now, I am not talking about whether you ‘dip and pack’ or fully process and mount your trophies - I am simply speaking of trophy shipping.
Three international surveys over the past twenty years consistently highlighted disappointment in an otherwise exceptional African hunting experience. Little has been done about it. And while covid recently brought this issue of the safari cost into sharp relief, air cargo rates tripling in some cases, this grudge purchase has always been there.
To address this, five years back, we opened AHG Shipping. We thought if we were the least expensive exporter out of South Africa, it would suffice. Our motto was simply – ‘Save money. Hunt More.’
While securing business directly from hunters asking for AHG Shipping, or wanting to compare their quotes, which often resulted in switching their shipment, we could not crack the link between taxidermists and their existing ‘contracted in’ shipping associates. This was despite our pricing model.
We needed to turn the model upside down somehow. And it dawned on me: Establish a unique taxidermy broker model. So, we contacted some established and reputable taxidermists, those who recognize the long-term problem this industry faces. They were prepared to render their service for a lot less, offering international big-game hunters a more financially viable solution through this brokerage that we run on behalf of hunters and taxidermists.
We introduced TTS - a taxidermy and trophy shipping solution. The rate you pay for the taxidermy is, roughly, 30% at least below ‘normal’ South African taxidermy costs, allowing the savings to largely cover the growing shipping costs which have ballooned globally.
Our service collects your trophies from the safari outfitter after it is salted and ready for transport. We take it to the ‘contracted-in’ taxidermist, pay the outfitter his due commission, pay the taxidermist their deposit to start the work, and from there on in, will give monthly updates. We’re the one point of contact from beginning to end, working with your import and clearing agent, or assigning you one, but never leaving the shipment till it is cleared and delivered. Nothing is shipped unless we are comfortable and thus ensuring your ‘After hunt’ experience is as good as, and lives up to, the actual hunt experience itself.
You have money and memories of your safari experience to protect – and we have our reputation to protect. It is as simple as that.
By offering this service across Dip & Pack, Tan & Shipping, and fully processed taxidermy work – hunters have more choice, whether it is to use your preferred taxidermists back home (receiving already tanned hides that are ready to hydrate and mount, saving time, money and weight to ship, or whether you wish to have both the tanning and taxidermy done back home, simply receiving dip-and-packed hides, or whether you wish to have the trophies mounted and ready to install on your trophy room.
AHG Shipping’s TTS service is a one-stop, hassle-free service that we have opened in our quest to keep promoting hunting in Africa.
Till next time, enjoy this month’s issue.