At the age of six, Joaquin Morales made a career choice. “I began to hunt by holding my father’s hand, and I owe him my love for hunting, my attachment to nature and respect for the animals,” he explains. Though he began hunting in Spain, his family relocated to Cameroon when he was 20 years old.
In 1985, Joaquin secured a contract with the Environment/Fauna Ministry for management of a camp in the Boubandjidah National Park and developed his career as a professional hunter in Cameroon.
Joaquin manages five camps for Mayo Oldiri Safaris in an area called the Sudanese Savannah. The hunt in this open area is exciting because the traditional method of following tracks is used. Specializing in Lord Derby eland hunts, Joaquin has taken more than 125 trophies for his clients during the past 25 years. The camp accommodations, food and atmosphere are first class.
Mayo Oldiri also offers hunts in the Cameroon rain forest area.
When guiding clients, Joaquin carries a powerful .460 Weatherby Magnum for the client’s safety in case of problems with African big game. When hunting alone, he carries a .375 H&H Magnum topped with a Zeiss 1.5-6x scope, a gift from his father.
The serious business of hunting does have its lighter moments. Joaquin recalls a nine-day hunt tracking a dwarf buffalo. Weather conditions were so bad the hunter wanted to quit unless Joaquin thought there might be one more chance. “When we found the track of a buffalo, the client asked, ”How old?” Joaquin replied, “I think about 12 years old.” The hunter could not understand how a track that old could be followed. “When I explained I was referring to the age of the animal, we had a good laugh.”
Joaquin recalls another memorable for elephant hunt with a Spanish client.
“Hunting is to go to the bush and forget about time, suffer from the Harmattan wind, the dust or the infernal heat. Hunting means getting up at dawn and walking for a long hard day. The hunter had these experiences and more.
When we finally found the elephant, late one April afternoon, we could not take photos because it was too dark. We posted guards, planning to return the next morning. We returned to find someone had extracted the tusks from our elephant.
“My client became discouraged and confused. We returned to camp, but I did not want to give up so easily and brought up this case with the traditional authority, the Sultan of Rey Bouba. With his support, we initiated an investigation with the help of the Sultan’s entourage. He sent messengers to the chiefs of all his settlements and provided us with a group of trackers to return to the crime scene to help with the investigation.
“After three days, the Sultan’s representative reported they had located the thief and the tusks were in the hands of a merchant who agreed to return them because he was unaware they were stolen. The safari ended happily when the tusks were returned to my client.”
Mayo Oldiri Safaris has an active 12-year-old anti-poaching program. A year ago, an association called Mayo Rey Conservation was established. Its objective is the conservation of natural resources in all the areas bordering Boubandjidah Park. The association brings together the traditional authority represented by the Sultan of Rey Bouba; the management of Boubandjidah Park; the Department of Environment , represented by the Conservation Service of the Park; and Mayo Oldiri Safaris, which has five hunting areas in the sector. Safari Club International is an honorary member of the association. Negotiations are underway to enable SCI to become an active member by contributing directly to Mayo Rey Conservation Association. Mayo Oldiri is a founding member of the Mayo Rey Hospital Foundation, which provides clinical services and surgery.
Joaquin has guided many SCI members and past presidents. Mayo Oldiri Safaris, a long-tenured SCI member, is seventh in the SCI exhibitor ranking list. In 2012, Antonio Reguera, owner of Mayo Oldiri, received SCI’s Outstanding International Professional Hunter of the Year Award.