This is a Leaping lion mount by Animal Artistry.

Trophies—What’s Taking So Long?

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Mike-Boyce-headshotWhen will my trophies arrive from Africa? This time gap causes frustration and risk and is getting longer.

What’s causing the problem?

  1. In some cases, marginal operators are not paying the trophy fees to the government in a timely manner. They are using your trophy fees to stay afloat, waiting for the next deposits. In the meantime, none of the paperwork can be processed. Of course, when pressed for explanations, they say it’s the government’s fault, when in fact we see consistently that quality operators pay their trophy fees immediately and trophies are expedited.
  2. In many cases, the “expeditor” is a taxidermist himself. This is a fundamental conflict of interest. Your safari represents a potential revenue source for them if they do the work. When they are not mounting them, it represents little revenue to process and ship the trophies. They are in no hurry.
  3. In the US Fish & Wildlife Service, there is a new generation replacing the retirees that is hyper-sensitive to paperwork. The smallest of errors such as an incorrect number or letter causes your trophies to be confiscated or sent back for re-importation.
  4. Until just recently, the union dockworkers’ strike held up a great number of shipments.


Leopard mount by Animal Artistry.
Leopard mount by Animal Artistry.

Possible Solutions:

All of this should be addressed with your Outfitter before booking. Many Outfitters feel their job is finished when you board the plane home. It leaves your shipment “orphaned.” Nobody is shepherding it through the final stages.

  1. Make sure you receive confirmation when the trophy fees are paid to the government. Let them know that this is what you expect. It’s your money.
  2. Use independent expeditors who have no conflict of interest. They will get your trophies packed and shipped quicker. In most cases, this is accomplished in 4 to 6 months. Demand that these folks export your trophies, not a Taxidermist who wants to do your work.
  3. Make sure your Outfitter and forwarder know how important accuracy is when completing your export/import paperwork. Have them send you a copy in advance of shipping as well as your Broker so the documents are checked for errors as well as you having copies so in the event that the airline loses the documents, you at the very least can supply copies to US Fish & Wildlife. In rare cases, those copies were able to be utilized to clear shipments.

All of this needs to be addressed during the booking process! Get the pre-nup before the wedding. Of course I can be wrong, it’s just my opinion—Mike Boyce is the owner of Animal Artistry and has been in the hunting industry for more than 50 years.

2 thoughts on “Trophies—What’s Taking So Long?”

  1. Very interesting text, You put the finger at a very hot spot. My own trophies arrived 9 month after my hunting trip, among the other trophys that I delevered to the taxidermist was very big Blue Wildebeest. But when I open the big box that arrived to me, there was a small head with small horn´s, from a totaly other WildeBeest. I reclaim this at once to the taxidermist, but they do not know anything at all. It take more than another year to get compensation for that error. 14 month´s of correspondence and the wrong trophy, that´s what I got, the taxid-work with all the trophy´s was very exelent.

    Lars Blomqvist SWEDEN

  2. In South Africa no trophy fees are payable to the Government. There has been a change in the permit issuing procedure that has delayed the issuing of permits by up to 4 months.

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