on safariMarch 11, 2014
at present time I am on a safari throughout South Africa hunting for records. My posts will not be that regular as normal as I have limited access to computers and stuff but I had to post this one. Travelling through the small town of Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape a rather remarkable workshop caught my attention; Wild Africa Taxidermy. It is one of the few workshops in South Africa where trophies of hunted animals are being conserved and shipped all over the world.
A friendly guide gave me the tour and explained some of the work being done in the workshop. Making a trophy is considered here as a form of art. The process of the transformation of the killed animal into a well conserved and stuffed trophy goes something like this:
-after the kill the animal is immediately skinned and the meat is being sold or given to the local people. Then the skin, horns and all other body parts are being brought into the workshop
-all parts are being cleaned into a chemical bath
-skins are covered with salt, bones and some body parts are bleached
-skins are dried and peeled of any fat
-skins and all body parts are being mounted on a polyester mold
-the finished product, the trophy is now ready for delivery to the hunter or collector
I understood that hunters from all over the world, especially the USA, India and China are paying big bucks for a permit to kill a rhino, or other species of the so-called big five; elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion. The permits are distributed to the highest bidder. Sometimes a hunter will pay up to a half million dollar for a permit to kill a rhinoceros. I was informed that only old bulls and sick animals of this endangered species can be hunted.
The horn of a rhino is not being accepted by the staff of Wild Africa Taxidermy , it is replaced by a polyester placebo on the mold. Illegal poaching is not permitted and the workshop is being controlled extensively on a regular base for rare and endangered species.
The rare rhino is mostly shipped to China and the USA where some hunters take great pride in having a trophy of this endangered species on their walls. My guide told me that some people just kill a crocodile to have a rather peculiar floormat for their bathrooms. And what to think of a unique coffee table made of zebra feet!
I rather collect vinyl records then any stuffed animal but the bizarre practice of taxidermy is intriguing and no longer a mystery to me. But boy, was I glad to leave that workshop!