• AFRICAN HUNTING GAZETTE: When and where were you born?
Phlllip Mafuta: My name is Phillip Mafuta. I was born on 5 May 1985, on Humani Ranch (now Save Valley Concervancy) Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. I was born right on the farm and not in a hospital!
• AHG: Tell us all ‘about your family.
PM: I have two beautiful daughters, Leona 7 and Lorraine 4.
• AHG: How did you become a PH? How did it all begin
PM: Hunting runs in the family. It started with my father, Hama Mafuta, who was the head tracker and later PH for “Svikesvike” Whittal, father of Roger Whittal. My big brothers, Madya, Gadzira and Edmore were all Zimbabwe PHs and I would go with each of them every school holiday to hunt. This inspired to become a PH myself.
• AHG: Which countries have you hunted and where are you hunting these days?
PM: Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa. I am now hunting in the Eastern Cape at Kuduskop Safaris.
• AHG: If you could return to any time or place in Africa, where would it be?
PM: If Botswana was open to elephant hunting I would love to go back there. I hunted there for four years, mainly in the Okavango and Thuli Block which proved to be my most challenging elephant hunts.
• AHG: Which guns and ammo are you using to back-up on dangerous or wounded game?
PM: I like the CZ .375 H&H Magnum. PMP Super Solid (386gr)
• AHG: And what are your recommendations on guns and ammo – for dangerous game and for plains game – to your hunting clients?
PM: For me, it’s .the .300 Win Mag for plains game. It does the job all round.
And even though a .375 and upwards is suitable, for dangerous game, I have come to favor the .500 Nitro Express. The double barrel gives the client the speed and ammo gives the power to get the animal down.
• AHG: What is your favorite animal to hunt and why?
PM: Definitely elephant. I have my most experiences with this animal. I get excited when I find a fresh track, and use the telltale signs an elephant leaves behind to achieve a successful hunt. Most of my clients shoot the animal within 25m.
• AHG: Looking back, which was your greatest trophy and why?
PM: Until now I have never hunted nor even seen a 66” kudu bull, and so the one that I hunted in the Limpopo floodplain with my brother, Edmore, would be the greatest.
• AHG: What was your closest brush with death? Looking back: Anything you should have done differently?
PM: I was a tracker for my father, hunting leopard. From the blind we thought the client made a good shot, as the animal came falling out the tree, but it turned out that he had broken both back legs. Coming out from the blind, the second shot put the animal down in tall grass. Slowly we approached, and as I was in front I was the one to be attacked. The second shot only managed to break one of the front legs, and luckily for me he now only had one leg and his jaws with which to fight. The animal’s mouth was around my upper right arm looking for my neck. At the same time the remaining leg had enough power to cut open both my upper legs. With my left hand I was trying to push the head off me, and we tussled for what felt like forever. My father was standing right next to the scene ready with his rifle to shoot. Eventually the shot came and the animal collapsed on top of me. My father grabbed the leopard’s tail and pulled him off me. With the power of adrenalin I rolled away and then the shock set in. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was rushed to hospital and spent two weeks recovering.
We should never have been so sure of the shot, especially with leopard. We knew it was hit and that it would not survive, and we should have not followed immediately – perhaps even take track the next day to be sure it was dead.
• AHG: How has the hunting industry changed over the years? And the hunting clients themselves?
PM: There is now a lot of competition in the hunting industry, and trophies are harder to come by.
• AHG: Which qualities go into making a successful PH and or a successful hunting company?
PM: To be successful you need to work hard and be trustworthy. You need to work as a team with a tracker, the outfitter and lodge staff. Serve each client as if they were your first.
• AHG: And which qualities go into making a good safari client?
PM:Those that listen to their PH!
• AHG: If you should suggest one thing to your hunting clients to improve their experience of their safari, what would it be?
PM: Don’t rush it. Rather take more time off. The more time you have, the better the trophy and, just simply, the all-round experience.
• AHG: Based on your recent experience in the field, do you think that any species should be upgraded to Appendix I or downgraded to Appendix II or closed all together?
PM: Perhaps leopard for certain areas can be downgraded to Appendix II
• AHG: What, in your opinion, can the hunting industry do to contribute to the long-term conservation of Africa’s wildlife?
PM: The hunting industry brings in foreign currency and contributes a great deal to the GDP of a country. The more money government has, HOPEFULLY, the more money they will set aside for conservation.
• AHG: Ask your wife, if she could do it all over again, would she still?
PM: Yes! We get to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures.
• AHG: What is her advice to future wives of PHs? Are any of your children following in your footsteps?
PM: Her advice is to be patient if he is away and pray for him to come back. It is not only animals that kill, accidents can happen too. Only God is in control. My first daughter says she wants to be a huntress. She wears safari gear, too, while the second wants nothing to do with hunting.
• AHG: Anyone you want to say thanks to? Or to GTH (Go to Hell)?
PM: I would like to thank God for the talent. Secondly, my father for starting it all, and my late brother Edmore Mafuta who was the one to teach me all I know. Also thanks to my younger brother Aleck Mafuta, who supports me emotionally and financially. And lastly, a special thanks to all at Kuduskop Safaris, my manager Richard Strydom, and Luc and Isabelle Escoute who I feel took me from zero to hero.
• AHG: Any Last Words of Wisdom?
PM: There is no substitute for knowledge.