Testimony by Dr. James M. Stevison
It is with the greatest of conviction and pride that I nominate Quagga Safaris, Erik Visser, for the Dallas Safari Club, Outfitter of the Year! I do so based on three primary demonstrated characteristics that I believe place Quagga Safaris ahead of its peers within the hunting and conservation business practice: 1) A Greater Good Perspective; 2) A Commitment to Community, Employees, and the Prosperity of the African People and Their Way of Life; and 3) A Superior Commitment to Excellence and Experience for Clients! These three attributes are deeply interrelated but Erik and the Quagga Team’s efforts are uniquely distinguishable in each.
My wife, Cindy, and I made our first trip to Africa in 2019. We selected Quagga as our outfitter of choice based on recommendations from those more experienced than us, as most of us who are dedicated conservationist and hunters do. However, upon meeting Erik and the team, their motto of “Conservation Through Utilization” came through not only in their words but in the actions of each member of the Quagga Team. The family atmosphere Erik has created and the desire the Quagga Team had in making our trip about the experience was superior to any other outfitter I have used. That alone was enough for me to make this recommendation but what was most distinguishable about Erik and the Quagga Team was their desire to instill a love for Africa and its fragile ecosystem, requiring more than a conservation mindset to advance, into each person sharing the camp fires with them. They demonstrated a magnetic passion and love for Africa and the need to protect this global treasure, which brought us and those with us to an internalization of the greater good cause of African conservation and preservation. The Quagga Team has simply changed our lives and I can say with confidence that they have done the same for that of the greater than 80% return clients they have enjoyed since they were first established 30 years ago. When I say a “Greater Good Perspective,” I am referring to their passion and love for Country, Continent and preserving a heritage which includes not only animal conservation to sustain hunting but active support to organizations such as DSC, PHASA, SCI, and HSC that ensure a way of life is maintained and advanced for the enjoyment of future generations.
I could write a book on Erik’s and the Quagga Team’s commitment to community and employees. However, 2020, a year which changed the world, provides a snapshot into how Erik and his team have defined themselves as community leaders. For over 30 years, they have conducted numerous community projects within the Limpopo region of South Africa, which had an emphasis on those in need. Helping village schools with supplies and providing meat to the needy have always been a priority. Additionality, they actively provided training and employment for community peoples. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, robbing outfitters of an entire year of business. Yet, under Erik’s leadership, Quagga DID NOT take the easy road which could have led to mass layoffs as well as elimination of essential conservation practices to protect animals and land sustainability. Instead, he leaned into the challenge and held firm to his vison for Quagga, took on personal risk and positioned his business and employees for growth within the Community. During this time of most need, Erik kept his employees and engaged them in tasks (at his own expense) that would enhance the experience for clients and support future community growth. Erik, ever the conservationist, did not ignore wildlife sustainment and with the absence of hunters and the greater community need, he undertook a culling program which helped meet the significantly heightened need for meat in the schools, community, and region. Erik demonstrated compassionate and servant leadership during the most difficult of times making him and the Quagga team most deserving of recognition and solidifying the loyalty of his clientele.
“The African experience!” We heard this phrase in 2019 on our first trip, again on our trip this year and know we will hear it next year when we return in 2022 because this is the most important part of Quagga’s inculcated values. Erik and the Quagga Team are focused and go the extra mile in every way to ensure all clients fulfill their safari expectations. They are not a “numbers” outfitter, rather Quagga is a deliver of dreams. Every detail is thought of and nothing is spared to ensure clients’ complete satisfaction. Although this may be true for many outfitters in regards to hunting and hospiZtality, I dare say that Quagga is unmatched in these areas. However, let me provide two small examples of what going above and beyond really means to me. First, my daughter accompanied me and my wife on our most recent trip. She is not a hunter and had never been hunting despite my best efforts. Through their individual and gentle educational efforts, my daughter who said she would only stay in the vehicle as we drove the properties, was stalking animals with us by the time we left. Where I had failed, the Quagga team succeeded. My daughter is now excited about her next trip back to Quagga Safaris and to a place, South Africa, she loves. Quagga, created an ambassador by going the extra mile.
Second, while the food and hospitality are beyond anything I have experienced with other outfitters, the fact that Erik opened up his home to us as friends, not simply clients was another special touch that I cannot fully explain. He provided us opportunities to do more than hunt and demonstrated that our relationship was far more than transactional. Whether it was skeet shooting or bird hunting or fishing or any number of special activities they provided, it was about creating an experience and delivering dreams. On our last evening there this year, they installed us as ambassadors for Quagga, a title we value and honor. However, as part of this, they made a contribution to rhino conservation in our name which once again demonstrated who they are as people who care about what they stand for beyond simple words. Erik and the Quagga Team are people of action committed to their clients’ experience and excellence in every possible way!
I end this recommendation by noting Erik and the Quagga team’s vision. They are not resting on their previous accomplishments. Their vison continues to grow and through this extraordinary vision, their commitment to community, employees and clients continues to evolve and expand. In 2022, they will expand their greater good reach with the new 56,000-acre Manketti Game Reserve concession. Quagga Safaris will be increasing their involvement in community projects such as education, training and social economic support. They will be adding and training new camp staff and 2 new Professional Hunters every season from the community people in the Manketti region, educating them with the noble objective of expanding the safaris and tourism industry within the Manketti and greater Limpopo regions of South Africa. Erik Visser and Quagga Safaris are setting the standard for outfitter excellence across the globe and I give them my full endorsement to anyone planning a safari to Africa!