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Harry Claassens : Oh! The Mighty Have Fallen!

Harry Claasens

I was truly saddened to see an old acquaintance of mine mentioned in a very disturbing article in the LA Times recently. I took part in many hunting adventures with Harry Claasens in Africa from 1989 until 2004. Over those years I spent well over 150 days hunting with Harry and staying with his welcoming and friendly family. We had some great times and more than our fair share of hair-raising experiences stalking and hunting big game. He was by my side as I took a number of my Safari Club Gold Medals and I always felt confident that he "had my back" should things ever go bad.

I considered him to be a good friend and a stalwart hunting companion and I was happy to promote his business and praise his expertise to my fans, friends and customers.

I'm sad to say that Harry and I didn't part on the best of terms. As anyone who knows me will testify I am a tireless perfectionist and quite a driven individual. I work hard and I expect everyone around me to do the same. It is only through motivation, determination and devotion that we can do great things. I continue to push myself and strive for better and, without wanting to sound cruel, I found the last time I hunted with Harry he had lost that fire. He frankly didn't want to work hard any more and for me that was unacceptable. A few choice words were spoken and Harry and I parted ways. I didn't speak to him again, and though I bore him no ill will, I no longer recommended his services or promoted his business.

I was deeply saddened therefore to see his name mentioned in a recent LA Times article concerning a poaching scandal! Reading more about this disturbing case I discovered the South Africa Mail & Guardian Newspaper had claimed that Harry was a suspect in a series of illegal "pseudo hunts" that were set up as a front for a Thai Rhino Horn trafficking syndicate! Furthermore, according to the LA Times, he was then granted immunity from prosecution for turning state's witness.

Should anyone wish to read more into this horrendous case, both of these articles can be found here:

The more I read about this story the more frustrated I became, and I have to admit my first response was that of anger. It may seem unusual to those who do not hunt, but any true hunter has a great love of nature and of wildlife. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to hunt and there is also a big responsibility to ensure that these magnificent animals and their beautiful habitats to not die out. My company, Cold Steel is a sponsor of the FCF (Friedkin Conservation Fund) and I am a supporter of several Anti-Poaching organizations. I was sickened and infuriated that my one-time hunting companion was connected in any way to this filth!

Truth be told, I had intended to write a very angry and condemning article about Harry. This story truly appalled me! However, as I came to put pen to paper I found I am much more disappointed that a once-great hunter and hard-working companion could stoop so low. Harry was a great man in his day and it's saddening to see what he has become.

OH! HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN!

Lynn C Thompson

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