"Trophy fee is $10,000, all of which stays in the Caprivi. Entirely up to you, of course, but we must decide so I can grab the permit from the minister today, then it's two days' motoring to the East Caprivi." Three minutes later I say, to no one's surprise, "We should shoot an elephant." John is on the cell locating a hotel. He'll drop us, then he's off to the minister's office for the permit. .....We overnight with professional hunter Izak Grobbelaar and family; he'll help sort out the elephant. .... We collect two Kwe San Bushmen trackers from dismal wattle huts, then arrive at East Caprivi's dusty hub, Katima Mulilo, in the middle of a baking afternoon. We must visit the warden. Here, he's more powerful than the Conservation Minister (equivalent to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior) in Windhoek.
The Windhoek minister, it seems, handed Wamback the wrong permit. Phone calls are made, and the minister informs the warden the elephant permit exists and is valid and to allow us to hunt, but the warden's neck stiffens and he won't allow the hunt without a paper copy in hand. "Windhoek is Windhoek, and Caprivi is Caprivi," he says. To complicate matters, the minister's fax machine is down and the warden's office doesn't own one. "Bugger it. They want us to shoot a problem elephant but toss obstacles willy-nilly," Wamback says. Seems an office functionary in Windhoek has the actual copy of the permit and she is shopping for the day. We drive the dusty bustle of Katima streets and John deposits us at a bar. "Get a sandwich and I'll be back." He's on the cell phone hollering at someone in Windhoek as he and Izak drive off. It takes that afternoon and the next day to untangle the red tape. Anneli, John's wife, finally corners the woman with the permit, faxes it to a Katima shop with a fax machine, and John delivers it to the warden. The chief warden assigns a sub-warden to accompany us on the morrow. We're good to go. Almost. Though we can't shoot without the warden, that afternoon we drive narrow paths through bush to native huts searching for leads. People in every hut tell of rogue elephants that send us on snipe hunts; the natives reason that if we do find one, they'll get the meat. If none exist, nothing is lost except our time and petrol.