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Richard Harland caught up with Paul Grobler when the latter was in his eighties, and he persuaded Grobler to tell his story for this book. Grobler, born in 1922, did not start hunting in Rhodesia till 1945, and he shot his last elephant in 1990. During this period, exactly forty-five years, he is reputed to have shot more elephants than any other human being. Whatever the number, that he was successful there can be no doubt, for he built up an entire farming empire on the proceeds of his ivory sales. He started hunting with a .303 and a £1 sterling “open hunting license” in his pocket. Such a license allowed unlimited game shooting (except for lion, leopard, and rhino) in the tsetse-fly zone by the Rhodesian authorities. Obviously, this situation could not last, but it is indicative of the conditions under which he hunted.
But like all good and interesting stories, this title is more than just a book on elephant hunting: It is about a person who through his grit and single-minded determination managed to eke a living out of an extremely harsh land, and he made a good living. Pioneering days in colonial Africa were hard, and the people who stayed alive and succeeded were, indeed, a tough breed. Paul Grobler is such a man, and the story clearly shows it.
Full of historical black and white pictures, the book is testimony to a type of human being who no longer exists in the modern world—a person and time hard to imagine for most of us in the twenty-first century. On the jacket it is stated without exaggeration: “For sheer weight of experience he is, and will remain, unsurpassed.” Truer words have never been written!
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