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Craig Leerberg

Local Member, Shikar Safari International


Shikar Safari, an exclusive hunting club with only 200 members worldwide, funded a Department of Wildlife--organized lungworm inoculation of the Rampart Range herd of bighorn sheep near Garden of the Gods a few weeks ago. Mr. Leerberg is president of Silver King International, a Colorado Springs--based manufacturer of vacuum cleaners. He was also a team leader of a Ranger long-range recon team in Vietnam. He has lived in Colorado since 1969 and currently lives in Manitou Springs with his wife, Barbara, and his daughter, Carrie.

How did Shikar get involved in the inoculation program? The local DOW had run out of funds that could be used for this project, so they approached me because they knew Shikar donates quite a bit of money for conservation programs every year.

Why is a hunting organization involved in wildlife conservation? There can be no hunting without conservation, not for long anyway. Our populations of game at the turn of this century are much stronger than they were at the turn of the last century. The reason for this is that we have wildlife biologists who are trained to know when game populations need protection and when they are too numerous and need culling.

What other things has Shikar done to promote conservation? We have purchased aircraft for the Arizona Fish and Game Department to study mountain lion and mule deer populations. We also purchased an aircraft for the Mexican game department to help control poaching of the desert bighorn sheep in the Sonoran desert. Shikar helped bring the black rhino to the United States and institute anti-poaching mechanisms in Africa to try to save that species. In Colorado, we helped introduce the moose to the Lake Granby area, and that small population has grown to over 1,000 animals.

Who can be involved in Shikar Safari? Well, since the club is limited to 200, someone has to pass away before another can be admitted. However, prospective members are evaluated to be sure they are serious hunters as well as serious conservationists. It began in 1952 as a club for people who hunted in India and Africa who wanted to share hunting experiences.

What has been the most difficult animal for you to hunt? I have spent five weeks and $50,000 on two trips to the Central African Republic to hunt bongo and have never fired a shot. It is the most miserable a person could ever be. Everything that crawls is poisonous; everything that flies will bite; and everything that grows has got a hook on it. The humidity is 100 percent all the time, and the temperature is always around 100 degrees. I have seen a few, but none I would want to take. Members of the group are not allowed to take young animals or females.

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