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Taxidermy Questions and Answers

Q. Why should I use a Cape to Cairo preferred taxidermist in Africa as apposed to one in the United States?

A. The typical African trophy animal is short haired and lives in warm to hot climates. The stress of handling, salting, drying, dipping, shipping, rehydrating for dipping and the typical tanning process to ultimately mount the trophy is lengthy and very harsh on the delicate hides. The time alone can result in damage beyond repair due to parasites and bacteria that are unseen by the naked eye. It is far better to have these delicate hides processed as quickly as possible. By the mere nature of the various import/export laws it is practically impossible to process quickly when shipping to countries outside Africa. The other benefit is that in the unfortunate situation where a hide is ruined in the field or during shipment, there are many more options available to an African Taxidermist to rectify the problem.

Q. I have heard of hunters losing their trophies and never seeing them again once they Leave Africa. How can I avoid this tragedy?

A. The only way to ensure proper handling and transport of your sport hunted trophies is to book your hunt with a reputable outfitter, professional hunter (PH) or Safari Company. Lost trophies are only one of many pitfalls of inexperience or unscrupulous outfitters, professional hunters and safari companies. What may seem like a bargain hunt may end up costing you everything the hunt was worth and more.

Q. I am not sure of all the choices involved in mounting my sport hunted trophies, Can you help?

A. Yes, our preferred taxidermists have been in the taxidermy business for many years and they can make suggestions and provide you with photos via email of some of the more popular mounts. It is important for you to consider how you want to arrange your trophy room and let us know. We can work with you to make it a success. We encourage all of our clients to visit our taxidermist’s studios in person whenever they are near Johannesburg or Windhoek. We can normally arrange to pick you up and return you to your hotel on your way to and from your hunting area. A visit will give you an opportunity to discuss the many options available and a first hand look of the variety of mounts that will make your decision easier. 

Q. I will not be able to visit a studio, how will I be able to communicate my final decisions to you?

A. The ideal situation is to have your PH or Cape to Cairo plan a visit to our studios after your hunt. In this way we can sit and discuss your order in detail. However, in a case where this is not possible we have knowledgeable and cheerful staff standing by to discuss your choices by email. We have found this a simple and effective form of correspondence. We can also communicate by phone or fax in order to help you make the important decisions with regards to preserving your most precious hunting memories from South Africa.

Q. What if I am hunting in an African country other than South Africa and I want to use one of your Preferred Taxidermists as my taxidermist?

A. Arrangements can be made to ship your trophies to our preferred taxidermists. The PH or Safari Company will organize the necessary shipping arrangements and export permits from the country that you visited. They will contact us to arrange the import permits here in South Africa/Namibia. Once all the permits are issued by the Governments of each country, the shipment will be made. If you contact us well in advance of your hunt we can provide you with shipping tags for each and every piece of your trophy shipment.

Q. I am a taxidermist and I want to skin my trophies, is that allowed?

A. Yes of course, most Safari Companies and PH's allow this. Be sure to discuss this with your PH before your hunt. 

Q. How do I ensure that the trophies are skinned and treated properly in the field?

A. As is the case with lost trophies, only experienced and reputable PH's and Safari Companies employ the most skilled skinners and maintain consistently high standards. Our preferred taxidermists is capable of correcting some serious errors such as wounds and skinning mistakes, but as with any taxidermist, they are limited to the raw materials provided. Proper field treatment is the best foundation for the beautiful finished product you will want to treasure for years to come.

Q. I took a beautiful Impala trophy but shot the cape to pieces, is there anything your taxidermists can do to fix that?

A. Yes, they maintain warehouses of high quality capes consisting of many of the more common and popular species. In many cases they replace a damaged skin. Although this is done on a case by case basis, it may save an otherwise totally lost trophy.

Q. I have heard that African taxidermists use inferior chemicals and processes, Is that true?

A. There is no truth to that statement. Our taxidermists use only the finest materials available in the industry. We produce museum quality mounts that will maintain their original beauty for several lifetimes.

Q. How do trophies get from the field to your studio?

A. Your PH or Cape to Cairo will arrange for transportation to our taxidermists studios. It is wise to discuss this with your PH or Cape to Cairo when you book your hunt. In some cases there is a transportation charge for shipping to our studios, depending on the location of the hunting area as arranged through Cape to Cairo.

Q. How long will it take you to finish my trophies?

A. The typical turn around time is 12 to 15 months depending on the shop loading and the trophies received. Full body Elephants, Rhino, Giraffe etc, will require more time. Estimates are provided when we receive the trophies.

Q. Does this mean that I will receive my trophies 12 to 14 months?

A. There will be additional time required beyond our control including the transportation once the trophies leave our studio. The time required will depend on the method you choose. Air freight averages 2 to 3 weeks and ocean freight adds 8 to 10 weeks but at a substantial cost saving over air freight.

Q. Will my trophies be safe by sea freight?

A. Yes, the trophies are crated in sealed wooden crates and loaded in sealed ocean transfer "sea train" containers. The entire container is shipped to the destination. This ensures a minimum chance of loss or damage.

Q. How are the trophies prepared for shipment?

A. The trophies are carefully packed in specially designed crates to minimize the size and cost to you. After crating we contact our shipping company, Safari Cargo Systems Inc. (SCS), who collect the crate from our shop and make all of the necessary arrangements for transport to the United States. You will be notified when the shipment leaves our studios and will be provided with the contact at SCS to make arrangements for payment and choice of shipping method. 

Q. How much will it cost to ship my trophies?

A. The cost will depend on the size and weight of the crate and the destination. We Do all we can to minimize the size of the crate by carefully packing the trophies in the smallest space possible. The cost is calculated on the total weight of the crate or in most cases the total volume of the crate. The volume is typically the determining factor, since the shipping companies charge based on the amount of weight they could have transported in that space. You may see an equivalent weight charged based on the volume. You can contact SCS for shipping costs.

 Q. Once the trophies arrive in the United States, will they be sent to my home address?

A. The shipment requires clearance by the US Fish and Game Department, US Customs, and the US Department of Agriculture. These inspections are arranged by your import broker and may take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks and is depending on how busy the port of arrival is and the time of the year. After the inspections are completed and the shipment is released you can make arrangements for home delivery or warehouse pickup as you desire.

Q. You mentioned an import broker, what is that and how do I get one?

A. The import broker is a company that specializes in the receiving of shipments from foreign countries. (For example we use, Fauna and Flora in New York city as the import broker. Our Taxidermists have worked with F&F for many years and have a close working relationship and they are experienced in all matters relating to you getting your trophies). We take care of all of the paper work and notify you when the trophies are ready to ship. SCS then works closely with you to coordinate the shipment and payment of transport fees. You will be provided with a point of contact at the import broker. Once the shipment arrives at the destination port of entry, the import broker will contact you to make arrangements for payment and coordinating the necessary inspections and final delivery to your door.

Q. What if my uncle is a taxidermist and in order to keep peace in the family I must have him do the taxidermy work?

A. When un-mounted trophies are sent to the United States they still must go through a process at our Taxidermists in order to be allowed to ship. The "green" skins and skulls must be treated, often called "dipped" to ensure that there is no transfer of bacteria or other microscopic organisms that would be harmful if transported to another country. Our taxidermists are authorized to perform all of the necessary treatments to safely ship green trophies to any destination. Once they are dipped and shipped they will pass through the same inspections coordinated by the import broker. The import broker will then ship the green trophies to a taxidermist certified to receive green trophies in the United States. There the trophies will be treated again and can be mounted there or sent to the taxidermist of your choice.

Q. How much does it cost to have my trophies done in Africa?

A. See our taxidermy pricelists. Additionally we only require a 30% deposit at the time the trophies arrive in our studio. The final balance due will be requested as the work nears completion, typically one or two months before they ship. That means that you would have nearly a year to make the final payment. 

Q. What form of payment do you accept?

A. We accept cash, wire transfers and various forms of checks. Checks will not be credited to the account until they clear payment at the bank. When making the final payment by checks, the shipping date could be delayed due to bank processing times. If you know you will be paying by personal check let us know and we can prepare the final bill with sufficient time to prevent added delays.

Q. When do you use sea-freight versus airfreight?

A. As a rule of thumb, we normally use shipping by airfreight in most cases. When there is a large group of hunters and a full container of trophies can be shipped by boat to one location, there is normally a significant savings. We do consolidate containers and ship trophies by sea freight for customers that live within a radius of 150 Miles from NY. Should you live anywhere else in the USA, we normally use airfreight as the final costs are then cheaper.

Q. What other costs can I expect to pay?

A. Other costs will be billed by your Import broker. It normally includes Import Documentation and freight to your preferred destination. In the event you need Cites permits, to import into the USA, you will also be charged for that. 

Q. What is dipping and disinfection?

A. Also called Dip & Pack or just Dipping, this is a veterinary regulated process where the aim is to kill all bacteria and pathogens in order to make raw trophies safe for export.

For export from South Africa to the EU, USA and most other countries, we are required to perform the following process on raw material in order for it to be considered “Dipped”:

  • Skins & capes & skulls were submersed in a organic acid solution with a ph of 2.5 for 48 hours
  • Skins & capes were then neutralized and dry-salted or wet-salted for a minimum of 14 days before dispatch
  • The consignment: has undergone all precautions to avoid recontamination with pathogenic agents after treatment and has not been in contact with any product of a lesser health status.
  • Skulls & bones have been soaked, boiled for 1½ hours, degreased and bleached in a concentrated solution of hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and then dried.
  • In addition to the above, EU countries and Canada require the following: Skins, capes & skulls are packed in individual, transparent and closed, leak proof packages, which prevent contamination.

Dipped trophies are still considered as raw trophies, so no tanning of the hides has taken place to preserve the hides. This means that the hides will still deteriorate if left for a long time or if they get wet after the process. The aim of Dipping is simply to make sure that the trophies are safe for export with regards to disease control.

For this reason, no guarantee on dipping trophies can be offered by the facility doing the process. No insurance will cover the trophies for damage due to hair loss or deterioration due to bacterial damage, so the client runs the risk of the hides arriving at their taxidermist and being unusable without having recourse for this damage.

Q. What are the typical costs involved with shipping of the taxidermy work?

A. Normally the following costs make up your freight bill:

  • Cartage and Trucking
  • Fuel and Security
  • Export Documentation & CBP
  • Insurance (optional)
  • Transit Permits
  • Air-freight / Sea-freight
  • Facility Fee

 

AIR AND SEA-FREIGHT CALCULATIONS FOR SHIPMENTS FROM NAMIBIA: The figures below are merely for our customers to get a good idea of what the costs are to ship mounted trophies from Windhoek Namibia to the USA or Canada. Costs may fluctuate from time to time as we are dealing with 3rd party service providers such as airlines and freight companies.

        1. Example of costs for Dipping, Packing and Air Freighting Skins, Sculls and Horns to your taxidermist of choice in USA:

We normally lean towards airfreight on dipped and packed trophies for all shipments less than 500 Kilograms (Kg). Prices are quoted to your closest Fish and Wildlife Port in USA. Custom clearance and road delivery to your taxidermist is excluded and for your own pocket. Included in the estimate below are insurance costs at 1.5% of value of trophies (including transport costs and Tax) – Note that there is a 10% excess on insurance claims.

Airfreight Costs can be broken down by weight:

    • <100Kg = $1700  (6 Animals – Zebra, Kudu, Gemsbuck, Baboon, Klipspringer, Steenbuck)
    • >100Kg and <300Kg = $3900
    • >300Kg and <500Kg = $5700
    • > 500Kg - Sea freight. (See Below)

Customs Clearance for 6 Animals is approximately $400.00. Packing costs is roughly = $200. Road transfer of your dipped trophies to your taxidermy in US (50 miles) = $400 at best. It will therefore cost you approximately ($1700 + $400 +  $200 + $400) = $2700 for 6 animals or roughly  an average of $450 per animal to get it to your taxidermy in the USA. This does not include the dipping and packing costs.

Dipping costs is roughly $175/animal. Thus, Dipping and Packing, Customs Clearance, Shipping(airfreight) and road transportation to your taxidermy roughly works out to $625/animal.

NOTE! Keep in mind that on top of your US Taxidermy Bill it will cost you $70/mount for packing your finished mounts and $80/ mount for shipping of your Trophy from theUS Taxidermy to your house.

 

2. Example of costs for seafreight of completed shoulder mount trophies. Total Combed Freight  > 500Kg

Weight and Volumetric Weight determine sea freight costs. Most vessels go to NY/NJ. Below we will show the cost of shipping your goods when sharing a container with other customers which have also hunted in Namibia. (There are various hunter’s trophies in packed in one container). We also added cost of road transfer of trophies from NY to Dallas TX.

The following example is based on:

    • Mounted animals (4 to 6 animals per hunter.)
    • Volumetric Weight = 400Kg and actual Weight = 200Kg.
    • 1 Cites permit per hunter incl.(Class H).
    • The estimate below includes sea freight from Namibia to Port of NY, road transfer of trophies to the state of TX and Customs clearance in the USA. (We did not include costs for any inspections by Fish and Wildlife and/or Customs).

Please note there is always a chance that your trophy shipments may be stopped for inspection and those cost will be for your own pocket.

Costs for crating of mounted trophies, shipping by sea freight to NY, customs clearance, USA inland freight in with delivery to your doorstep roughly works out to between $300 to $480/trophy.   The cost of your Namibia taxidermy work is not included.