It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you what we at Southern Cross Safaris believe to be an integral part of preserving our hunting heritage to an ever diminishing cultural heritage and forgotten past time.
A Safari Leadership course was started by my father, the Late Mike Cawood, in the mid 1980's, and was tried and tested on the market of the day. It was incredibly well received with 3 courses completed very successfully. Unfortunately it had to be mothballed due to the rise in political instability in South Africa at the time. Since we have now been through the transition to a multi party democracy I believe that the time is right to re-launch this wonderful opportunity to the kids of the free world.
It is a sad fact that the present generation is generally negative on conservation issues.
They have let themselves be convinced by pessimists and high-tech whiz kids that the day is nigh when only man and computer will walk the Earth. They have allowed themselves to become alienated from wild things and wild places.
I also believe, however, that many of them realise they have lost, or are losing, something that is good. Somewhere in every man's head a few brain cells still pulse out the messages and meanings of wild nature. No mother easily gives up her child. And are we not the children of nature?
And what of the children - today's children?
It is a fact, however, that the majority of today's youth is moving (or being led) farther and farther away from nature, from a healthy life in a healthy world. Here, too, I need not go into detail; just pick up today's newspaper and read all about it: drug abuse, alcoholism, teenage prostitution, violent videos, etc.
I cannot believe that the kids voluntarily choose these evils, that they would not rather involve themselves in healthier, more meaningful activities - were they given the opportunity of doing so.
I know they should "go for it" - because I have seen those who have been given the chance to take to finer pursuits with all the energy and enthusiasm a child is capable of. And I know you, the reader, have seen it, too.
You are asking yourself what all this amateur philosophy can be leading up to. It is this: We can have wild nature, and we can have good children. The wild animals and wild places we still have can instil in our children knowledge of and a love for a world where there is no evil.
I know - beyond any doubt - that the children, in appreciation, will strive to protect that which has given them so much. Nothing but good can come from such a mutually beneficial relationship. But the children must be given the chance.
I do not believe that a hunter is an anachronism. I think that hunting and fishing provide the two ways in which man comes closest to knowing and understanding nature. I do not know of any true, ethical hunter who is not a conservationist.
I know of some non-hunters who are true conservationists; yet, they do not condemn hunting.
I also know of some so-called conservationists who cannot conceive that anyone who can hunt for and kill a wild animal can be a conservationist.
I have but little time for this third group, with their largely misdirected conservation efforts.
So, to sum up, I believe that nature can be of immense benefit to our children, giving them a healthy life and a healthy outlook on life, a true sense of value for something that is of inestimable value, and the opportunity to choose between what is good and what is not good.
In return, these children (tomorrow's adults) will protect and conserve nature.
I will be exaggerating if I say that these courses will be offering the youth of the Hunting community around the world a unique opportunity in outdoor learning and adventure.
I don't think, Not from natural history books in the classroom, not from wildlife shows on TV, not from the inside of a car in the game reserve - but absolutely first-hand.
They will be right there in the action - participating. And while they are participating, they will be seeing and learning things - good things - that they will never forget.
They will take much away with them, but each will also be leaving a little behind.
When you have lain in the shade and watched the eagle circling high above in the clear sky; when you have seen the Springbuck "pronking" against a backdrop of blue mountains; when you have sat at the campfire at night and listened to the jackals singing to each other across the valley; when you have fallen asleep under big, bright stars - a part of you will stay.
No matter where you go or what you do, you will have only to close your eyes for a second - and you will be back.
To the fathers and mothers who read this, I ask you to give it some serious and deep thought. It could just possibly be the best thing you ever do for conservation, your child - and yourself.
And to the boys who read this - the best of luck in your campaigning. We would like to have you with us.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce in bullet form what the course comprises of and offer this to the Hunting community as a world first in the training and education of the younger generation that are fast becoming less interested in Hunting and conservation due to the pressure being exuded by the anti hunting lobbyists.
I do believe that it will go a long way to claiming our rights to hunt by helping the next generation really understand what we are all about.
The idea is to get 10 to 12students from the ages of 12 to 18 on a 10 day course with the next course starting the day the first leaves and so forth. I realise that the best time to run these courses will be in conjunction with the US summer break.
It would be recommended that the students have a chaperone to accompany them on the flight and through the duration of the course. Southern Cross would be happy to sponsor the stay of this person.
The course will comprise of the following:
1) Marksmanship and the use of Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles
3) Reloading and Ballistics
4) Camp building and maintenance
8) Conservation versus Preservation
9) Sustainable use of wildlife and the Economics thereof
11) Trophy Judging
12) Range Management
13) Traditions of the hunt and safari
14) Skinning and trophy preparation
16) Camp Fire talks on
17) Camp discipline, etiquette and manners
18) Hunting Traditions
19) The hunter as conservationist
20) Hunting equipment in general
This will all culminate in the hunting of a trophy animal by the student with a diploma from the course director.
All the different facets of the course will be learned both in the classroom and the field and the instruction will be done by some of the foremost experts in their field.
Attached is a short statement made by Dr. Byron Christie, one of the first students on the course and today a worldwide hunter.
Testimonial by Dr. Byron Christie
As I sit in my own house, a middle aged man with three teenage children, I reflect back upon my experiences during the Safari Leadership Course that I attended in 1984 and I am amazed.
I find that experiences gained in the very short span of two or three weeks can profoundly change a person's life.
This is especially true in the earlier parts of one's life. That period of time between adolescence and early adulthood can be such fruitful ground in which to plant good seed.
I was given my trip to Gannahoek in the Southern Cape of South Africa as a high school graduation gift. Little did I realize how much I would come to value those short two weeks of time out of mind?
It wasn't that I had led any kind of life sheltered from the outdoors; quite the opposite was true actually. However, the chance to camp in such a wild and unfamiliar setting on a far away continent which had previously only existed in my daydreams was truly the beginning of lifelong passion.
Learning bush craft as well as being taught fundamentals of African ecology were only the more obvious benefits to me. Exposure to a set of learned and, for me, revered persons whose ways were so traditional and seemingly from another age gave me a whole different perspective.
I have indeed kept many lessons with me from those two weeks, many that have become part of my adult personality and many that I credit with whatever effectiveness I have had in my family life and professional pursuits.
I have been back many times since and now my own children have been as well.
Don't be surprised to see a somewhat different, more worldly, confident, and polite young man or young lady return home from the Dark Continent, and don't be surprised when they want to go back.