Taxidermy and Shipping

African Taxidermy Comprehensive Guide – From Savanna to Showroom

Introduction to African taxidermy

Long after your African safari has concluded, the shoulder mounts and rugs displayed in your office or trophy room will continue to remind you of your adventure.

These trophies are not just souvenirs but are the most enduring and significant mementos of your African hunting experience. Taxidermy also represents a substantial part of the overall safari cost, so it’s important to plan how you wish to display your trophies even before you leave home.

Space and budget limitations are common considerations. Based on the species you intend to hunt, you should think about where and how you want to display your trophies. Plan where you might hang a traditional shoulder mount, including the direction it should face. Also, consider alternative display options such as floor or wall pedestals.

Certain species, like the sable antelope, are particularly suited to wall pedestal mounts, while others, such as the Red Lechwe, look impressive when their front legs are showcased. Some species may be grouped together effectively in a cluster mount.

If you opt for European (or skull) mounts, consider using the hides or back skins as secondary trophies to create stunning rugs. These thoughtful considerations will help ensure that your trophies are displayed in a way that honors your memories and fits your home’s aesthetic.

African Taxidermy with Nick Bowker Hunting

Why do your taxidermy in South Africa?

Taxidermy of African trophies is often better conducted in Africa rather than in the USA for several reasons, ranging from the expertise of local taxidermists in handling indigenous species to cost-effectiveness and logistical advantages. Here’s a comprehensive brief on why it’s beneficial to have African Wildlife taxidermy done in Africa:

Expertise and Authenticity

  • Local Knowledge: African taxidermists have extensive experience and understanding of the local wildlife. This expertise allows them to achieve more accurate and lifelike representations, capturing the essence of the species with greater authenticity.
  • Specialization: Taxidermists in Africa are often specialized in the native species and are familiar with the nuances of their anatomy and natural poses, which might not be as well-understood by taxidermists outside the continent.

Quality of Materials and Methods

  • Freshness of Specimens: Taxidermy done immediately after the hunt ensures that the quality of the skins and other materials is preserved. The shorter the time between the hunt and the taxidermy process, the better the quality of the final mount.
  • Advanced Techniques: Many African taxidermists use advanced tanning chemicals and methods, such as those from renowned German chemical manufacturers, ensuring high-quality preservation that meets international standards.


  • Lower Costs: The cost of taxidermy services in Africa is generally lower due to the lower cost of labor. Additionally, by avoiding the need to ship raw trophies internationally for mounting, you save significantly on shipping costs.
  • Integrated Services: Many African taxidermy firms offer package deals including skinning, tanning, mounting, and packing, which can be more cost-effective compared to paying for these services separately abroad.

Logistical Simplicity

  • Simpler Logistics: Handling the entire taxidermy process in Africa simplifies the logistics of exporting the final product. Completed mounts are easier and often cheaper to transport internationally than raw, untreated trophies, which require careful handling to meet biosecurity regulations.
  • Regulatory Compliance: African taxidermists are well-versed in the local and international wildlife trade regulations, including CITES, ensuring that all documentation and permits are correctly handled.

Reduced Risk of Damage

  • Immediate Processing: Processing trophies on-site reduces the risk associated with transporting raw, unprocessed specimens. Immediate action prevents decay and damage that could occur during lengthy transport.
  • Professional Packing: African taxidermists are skilled in packing finished trophies in a way that minimizes the risk of damage during the long journey to the USA.

Faster Turnaround

  • Efficiency: Completing the African plains game taxidermy in Africa can lead to a faster turnaround for hunters eager to receive their trophies. The streamlined process from hunting to mounting can significantly reduce the waiting period.

Cultural Integrity

  • Support Local Economies: By employing local taxidermists, hunters also contribute to the local economy, supporting traditional crafts and practices.
  • Cultural Appreciation: The art of taxidermy in Africa is not just a service but also a form of cultural expression that deserves recognition and patronage.


Opting for African safari taxidermy offers a combination of authenticity, cost-effectiveness, and logistical advantages. It ensures that trophies are handled expertly and efficiently, capturing the true spirit of the African safari experience while supporting local expertise and minimizing the environmental impact associated with transportation.

Get your taxidermy done in South Africa

What to look for once you have shot your trophy

Proper handling of your trophy in the field is crucial to preserving its quality, especially immediately after the animal has been harvested.

Hair slip, a condition where the hair falls out of the skin, can occur if bacteria infiltrate the skin within the first 24 hours after the trophy is harvested.

To prevent this, it’s vital to communicate with your guide about the type of mount you desire so they can perform the appropriate skinning techniques.

For certain animals, like kudu and nyala from the spiral horn family, extra care is needed due to their delicately haired capes. It’s advisable to place a sail cloth under the animal during handling to prevent damage to the skin.

If you hunt trophies in the morning and plan to be out all day, it’s important to promptly remove the innards of the harvested animal and place it in the shade to prevent spoilage and deterioration of the skin.

Additionally, if your schedule allows, consider visiting your taxidermist. This gives you an opportunity to see their facilities, assess the quality of their work, and discuss specific requirements for your trophies. A visit can help ensure that your taxidermist meets your expectations and that your trophies are handled and preserved properly.

The taxidermy Process

Here’s a breakdown of the taxidermy process for your trophies, depending on whether you plan to send them to the USA for mounting or have them mounted in South Africa:

Dip and packing for trophies to be sent to the USA

  1. Preservation at the Safari Outfitter: Immediately after your trophy is skinned, it is preserved in salt at the skinning shed until the end of your safari.
  2. Collection by Taxidermist: Post-safari, your chosen taxidermist collects the trophies from the outfitter.
  3. Dip and Pack Process:
    • Skulls: Are boiled to clean off any remaining tissue.
    • Hides: Are treated with a chemical solution and then dried to ensure they are preserved.
    • Horn Sheaths Removal: For animals like kudu and gemsbok, the horn sheaths are removed to save space and reduce shipping costs.
    • Crating: Once dried, the trophies are crated for shipping.
Waterbuck shoulder mount- South African Taxidermy

Mounting done in South Africa

  1. Tanning: If your trophies are being mounted in South Africa, the skins are fully tanned. During this process, any extra fat is shaved off.
  2. Mount Preparation:
    • Skin Placement: The tanned skin is placed on a mannequin or form, shaped, and stitched together.
    • Drying: The shaped skin is left to dry.
    • Detailing: Fine details around the eyes and lips are carefully attended to during this phase.
  3. Final Touches: Once the mount is dry, final artwork and touch-ups are applied.
  4. Crating and Shipping: Completed mounts are then packed into crates and prepared for shipment.

General tips

  • Dip and Pack: This process is essential if you plan to send your trophies back to the USA for mounting. It ensures that the trophies are preserved and meet both South African and U.S. import and export regulations.
  • Mounting Locally: Opting for mounting in South Africa can be more cost-effective and allows for detailed oversight during the taxidermy process.

Understanding these steps will help you make informed decisions about handling your trophies, ensuring they are preserved correctly and arrive in the best condition for mounting.

Detailed dipping process

Dipping and packing, often known as raw preparation, solution treated, or unfinished processing, is the essential minimum treatment that hunting trophies must undergo before they can be imported into the United States. This process ensures that all parts of the trophy, such as bones, hooves, horns, skulls, teeth, and tusks, are properly prepared for entry into the country. Here’s what’s involved in the process:

  1. Cleaning: Each component of the trophy must be thoroughly cleaned. This means removing all undried pieces of hide, flesh, sinew, or any other organic matter that might still be attached. The goal is to ensure that there are no remnants that could decay, which is crucial for meeting health and safety standards.
  2. Drying: After cleaning, the parts must be completely dried. This step is vital because any moisture remaining can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can cause deterioration and odors, and potentially lead to the rejection of the import at the border due to biosecurity concerns.
  3. Treatment with Solutions: The cleaned and dried parts are treated with chemical solutions that help preserve them and prevent the growth of pathogens. This treatment is part of what makes the process compliant with international shipping and health regulations.
  4. Packing: Once the trophies are cleaned, dried, and treated, they are securely packed for shipping. Proper packing reduces the risk of damage during transit and helps ensure that the trophies arrive in the best possible condition.

This procedure is not just a regulatory formality but a crucial step in preserving the quality of your trophies while also safeguarding ecosystem health by preventing the international spread of diseases. It’s important for hunters to work with experienced and reputable taxidermists or processing agents who understand the strict requirements needed for international trophy shipments.

Taxidermy Africa - Zebra rug

The disinfection process includes the following:

For the proper disinfection of hunting trophies, particularly the inner cores and horns, specific soaking treatments are employed to ensure thorough sterilization. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each step:

  1. Soaking in Boiling Water:
    • Purpose: Helps to loosen and remove remaining tissue and dirt.
    • Process: The inner cores and horns are submerged in boiling water. This process typically lasts for a minimum duration necessary to ensure that all organic material is loosened and can be removed easily.
  2. Soaking in 0.1 Percent Chlorine Bleach Solution:
    • Purpose: Acts as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and viruses on the surface of the bones and horns.
    • Process: Items are soaked in a 0.1 percent solution of chlorine bleach for a set period, which helps to sanitize and whiten the material, making it safe and clean.
  3. Soaking in 5 Percent Formaldehyde Solution:
    • Purpose: Used for its preservative and disinfectant qualities.
    • Process: Soaking the horns in a 5 percent formaldehyde solution effectively sterilizes them, preventing decay and contamination. This step is crucial, especially if there is a risk of transmitting diseases.
  4. Soaking in 5 Percent Hydrogen Peroxide:
    • Purpose: Aids in bleaching and further disinfecting the material.
    • Process: The inner cores are submerged in a 5 percent hydrogen peroxide solution for a minimum period to ensure thorough disinfection and to help in whitening the trophies, giving them a clean, preserved look.

Each of these steps plays a vital role in preparing the trophies for safe international transport and display, adhering to both health and aesthetic standards. It’s essential to follow these procedures carefully and allow sufficient time for each soaking period to ensure effective disinfection.

Taxidermy - sable full mount

General information for dipping and Tanning

Here’s a breakdown of important steps and considerations when preparing and shipping untanned hides and other trophies:

  1. Drying Untanned Hides:
    • Hides must be thoroughly dried to the point where they appear brittle and could crack when bent. This level of dryness ensures that the hides are less susceptible to decay and pest infestation during storage and transport.
  2. Packing After Treatment:
    • After the necessary treatments and drying, trophies should be packed immediately. It’s crucial to avoid contact with any animal products that could potentially reintroduce contaminants such as bacteria or insects.
  3. Cleanliness of Trophies:
    • Professionally cleaned trophies should be free from dirt, blood, insects, and any putrid odors. This not only complies with biosecurity standards but also maintains the quality and integrity of the trophies during transport.
  4. Shipping Requirements for the USA:
    • When exporting to the United States, dipped and packed trophies must be consigned to a USDA-approved establishment. This could be an approved tannery or taxidermist and not directly to the client. This requirement is in place to ensure that all imported animal products meet stringent health and safety regulations before they enter the country.
  5. Effectiveness of Insecticides:
    • Hunters should be aware that insecticides used on hides have a limited shelf life and may lose their effectiveness over time. If the effectiveness diminishes, it could lead to damage to the hides due to pest activity. Regular checks and possibly re-application of the protective treatments may be necessary to maintain the preservation of the hides.

Following these guidelines helps ensure that the trophies remain in excellent condition throughout the process and comply with all regulatory requirements for international shipping, particularly into the United States.

Tanning also referred to as cape tanning or dry tanning

The process of tanning in South Africa has evolved significantly, offering hunters several benefits, especially in terms of quality and logistics:

  1. Quality of Tanning:
    • Many taxidermists in South Africa now use high-quality original BASF (German) chemicals for tanning. This ensures that the tanned hides are of superior quality, which is crucial for the durability and appearance of the final mounted trophies.
  2. Damage Control:
    • Any damages to the trophies can be identified and rectified in South Africa before they are exported. In severe cases, parts like hides or skulls can even be replaced. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of you receiving unsatisfactory trophies and the need for further costly repairs or replacements after they have been shipped.
  3. Reducing Shipping Costs:
    • Opting for tanning and preparing the hides and skulls for mounting in South Africa, rather than just dipping and packing, can be more space and weight-efficient. Finished tanned hides and fully bleached and cut skulls take up less space and weigh less compared to dipped and packed cargo. This reduction in volume and weight translates directly into lower export and import costs.
  4. Efficiency in Receiving Your Trophies:
    • By starting the tanning process in Africa during the months it takes to prepare for export, you effectively use this waiting period to advance the preparation of your trophies. This means that once the hides and skulls reach your local taxidermist, much of the preliminary work has already been done. As a result, the turnaround time for final mounting is shorter, allowing you to receive your finished trophies much sooner.

This approach not only enhances the efficiency of the process but also ensures that the quality of the work meets international standards, making it a worthwhile consideration for hunters looking to bring home trophies from Africa.

Selecting your shipping agent

When choosing a shipping agent for your trophies, it’s essential to consider several factors:

  1. Taxidermist Recommendations: Many taxidermists handle their own packaging and typically charge around 10 percent of the total taxidermy cost for this service. They often have preferred shipping companies they work with regularly and can recommend.
  2. Independent Quotes: Before finalizing the shipping arrangements, it’s advisable to get quotes from independent shipping agents. This allows you to compare costs and services, ensuring you get the best deal possible.
  3. Shipping Process in South Africa:
    • Crate Transfer: Once you’ve selected a shipping agent, they will move the crates from the taxidermist to their warehouse, initiating the export process.
    • Permit Handling: The taxidermist should have already applied for all necessary permits required for the export of the trophies.
    • Inspections: If required, inspections by government conservation authorities are carried out at the shipping company’s warehouse.
    • Loading and Shipping: After ensuring all documents are in order, the crates are loaded onto an airplane or into a shipping container. They are then shipped to the designated entry port in the United States.


Proper crating is critical to ensure the safe transport of your trophies:

  • Secure Mounting: Trophies must be securely mounted inside the crate to prevent any movement during transit that could lead to damage.
  • Handling Horns: Removable horns, such as those of kudu and gemsbok, should be detached to conserve space and wrapped securely to avoid movement within the crate.
  • Minimizing Space: The arrangement inside the crate should minimize any unused space to prevent the contents from shifting.
  • Material Selection: The choice of wood is crucial; it must be sturdy enough to protect the contents from external impacts and comply with international shipping standards.
  • Structural Integrity: The crate’s base must be robust, with a solid footer to support the weight and allow safe handling by forklifts.

Investing in high-quality crating is an essential step to ensure that your trophies arrive in excellent condition, minimizing the risk of damage during transport. This careful preparation helps safeguard your valuable souvenirs, ensuring they last as enduring reminders of your hunting experience.

Taxidermy and Shipping

Unlocking the Mystery – Trophy Shipping Cost from Africa to the USA

Are you a hunter researching or planning your first African hunting safari? Don’t understand the process of how to get your trophies back home? Have concerns about trophy shipping costs back to the United States?

Nick Bowker Hunting is committed to providing clients with outstanding service at a fair price. Nick Bowker Hunting has no commercial arrangements with any shipping enterprise.

This page provides detailed information on the shipping and clearing process for your trophies, benchmark costs, and the ability to get an independent quote irrespective if you are hunting with Nick Bowker.

How it works

The shipping company collects your trophies from your taxidermist in South Africa.

They manage the customs process and then arrange for the trophies to be transported by plane or ship to the nearest port of entry in the USA.

When the trophies arrive in the USA, a clearing agent ( Customs Broker) takes over.

They handle all interactions with the necessary government departments and ensure that your trophies are delivered to you.

How to ship African wildlife trophies to the United States

Here’s what you need to do to manage your trophy shipping cost.

  1. Select a shipping agent in South Africa after receiving and comparing their quotes.
  2. After reviewing and comparing their quotes, choose a clearing agent (Customs Broker) in the United States.
  3. Each hunter must provide a customs broker with a customs power of attorney, allowing them to handle and take possession of their shipment legally.
  4. Connect the shipping agent who is sending your trophies with the customs broker who will receive them. This ensures they can communicate to confirm all required documents and logistics are correctly arranged.
  5. With your taxidermist, shipping agent, and customs broker, make sure you are insured from the field to your home.
Trophy shipping cost

How much does it cost to ship trophies from Africa?

The total cost to ship trophies from Africa to the United States, based on the example of shipping a 200kg crate to Chicago, is approximately $3,180. This estimate includes four components:

  1. Shipping cost from South Africa to a U.S. port of entry: This is approximately $1,280. It covers the transport of the trophies from South Africa to a designated port in the United States, including all the logistics involved in international shipping.
  2. Service fee of your selected South African shipping agent: Approximately $500. This fee is for the services provided by your chosen shipping agent who coordinates the entire process, from initial pick-up in Africa to delivery in the U.S.
  3. Custom broker fees in the United States: Approximately $900. This fee is for a custom broker who will handle the clearance of the trophies through various U.S. government agencies, ensuring all legal and regulatory requirements are met.
  4. Road freight from the custom broker’s warehouse to your location: The cost here is around $500, but it varies depending on the distance from the broker’s warehouse to your taxidermist or trophy room. This covers the domestic transport within the U.S. to the final destination.

Each of these components contributes to the overall cost, which is a combined total of about $3,180. This estimate provides a good baseline, but actual costs may vary based on specific circumstances and additional services that may be required. See the below tables for the assumptions used.

Trophy shipping cost from South Africa to the US port of entry

Hunters are best routed into Houston or Chicago, as they are the cheapest and quickest ports. South Africa into Houston via Turkish airlines is the most common.

Size of
Air Freight
Agent Fee$500$500
Based on data from TTS as of April 2024

Air freight cost

Air freight cost per volumetric kilogram.

Volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a pricing technique used in commercial freight transport, especially in air shipping. It accounts for the space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight.

This method encourages shippers to optimize packaging to be lighter and more compact, as bulky but lightweight packages can take up disproportionate space relative to their weight.

South African shipping agent fee

This entails transport to Johannesburg from your taxidermist, checking all paper work, ensuring all permits are in place, export documentation, Airline screening fee, warehouse handling, customs clearance and loading the cargo. The above does not include crating and Packing. See below.

Crating (packing) costs

Crating costs are normally 10 – 15 percent of your taxidermy bill. Crating service is provided by your taxidermist or shipping agent. Crating costs are excluded as they are often included in your taxidermy bill but hunters should check.

Trophy shipping cost from the US port of entry to your home

Trophies must be cleared through U.S. Customs, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and U.S.D.A (United States Department of Agriculture) upon arrival in the U.S.

Trophies can be shipped to the U.S. fully finished and mounted or in an unfinished state via a dip and pack service.

But if the trophies are shipped unfinished, And include any unmounted horns or skulls they will be required to move to a USDA-approved taxidermist for re-dipping.

Size of Crate200kg200kg
Delivery Cost
(Based on
500 miles)
Based on quotes from Custom Brokers listed below.

Custom Broker Cost

The cost of shipping trophies involves three main elements: custom broker fees, terminal charges by the airline, and warehouse storage fees. It’s important to note that the cost estimates provided assume that your trophies are cleared by customs within 24 hours. Delays in clearance can lead to additional costs, especially in terms of warehouse storage fees.

Hunters should be particularly cautious about this potential issue. It is advisable to discuss with your chosen custom broker how they handle situations where clearance might take longer than 24 hours.

Understanding their policies and any additional fees associated with delays can help you manage and possibly reduce unexpected costs. Make sure to confirm all details and be prepared for any variables that might affect the total shipping cost.

An alternative is to self clear if you have the time and are within reasonable distance. See the thread below on Africa hunters where some hunters self clear.

Custom broker fees

This process requires clearing customs and obtaining approval from the US government authorities. It’s crucial for your customs broker to complete this clearance within 24 hours.

A broker, cannot move freight away from the airline’s facility until the USDA clears it. They place a hold on all incoming freight, which must be lifted before you can proceed with transporting the freight to its next destination

For the majority of airlines – AGI (Alliance Ground) and WFS (World Freight Services), provide 24 hours of free storage. After this period, storage fees range from $165 to $265 per day.

If the freight arrives over the weekend or on Friday this can be problematic as customs does not work over the weekends.

Some brokers have bonded USDA approved warehouse to move all freight to for clearance (to avoid the very high storage rates).

Airline terminal charges

Terminal charges by an airline refer to the fees associated with the handling and processing of cargo at an airport’s cargo terminal. This cost should just be a pass through from your broker.

Warehouse storage

Once cleared your trophy crate is moved to the broker warehouse for collection. This generally includes a fixed fee and a set number of free days after which your crate starts incurring a daily charge.

Delivery cost to your house

The cost of having your items delivered to your house typically ranges from $250 to $600. This fee varies based on the size of the shipment and the distance it needs to travel. It’s important to note that all carriers charge a minimum of $50 for using a liftgate service, and an additional fee of $75 to $90 is added for residential deliveries, which includes scheduling a delivery appointment with you.

If you prefer to avoid these extra fees, you have the option to pick up the items yourself. Alternatively, you can choose to have the crate shipped to the nearest hub, which is effectively the same as a self-pickup. This approach bypasses the residential, liftgate, and other additional charges typically associated with home deliveries.

List of custom brokers to contact

Trophy shipping quote

Get an independent trophy shipping quote from Richard Lendrum of TTS as well as the recommended shipping company your outfitter uses.

Trophy Shipping Quote

The process from the plains to your trophy room

Dip and packing for trophies to be sent to the USA

When your trophy is skinned, it is preserved in salt at the skinning shed of your safari outfitter until your safari ends.

After your safari, your chosen taxidermist picks up the trophies from the outfitter.

If you want to send your trophies back home to be mounted, they need to be dipped, packed, or tanned.

If you plan to mount your trophies in South Africa, you don’t need to go through the dipping and packing process because that is done during the mounting process.

During dipping and packing, skulls are boiled, hides are treated with a solution, and then dried.

For certain animals like kudu and gemsbok, the horn sheaths are removed to save space and costs before the trophies are crated after drying.

The hides are fully tanned, shaved thin to remove fat, and prepared for mounting.

Skulls are bleached and trimmed to reduce weight and prepare them for mounting, which speeds up the taxidermy process and saves time.

Mounting done in South Africa

If you are getting your mounts made in South Africa, the animal skins are fully tanned, and the skulls are boiled, cleaned, and bleached.

In the full tanning process in Africa, any extra fat is shaved off.

Next, the damp skin is placed on a mannequin or form, shaped, and stitched together, and then it starts to dry.

The details around the eyes and lips are carefully done.

Once the mount is dry, final touches and artwork are added.

When everything is complete, the mounts, skins, and skulls are packed into crates and ready to be shipped.

Shipping process from South Africa

Selecting your shipping agent

Most taxidermists handle their own packaging (Crating) and charge about 10 – 15 percent of the total taxidermy cost for this service.

Some use an export shipping company for packaging.

Your taxidermist will have preferred shipping companies. They will let you know when your items are ready to be shipped and you can choose your own shipping agent or use the one the taxidermist recommends.

It’s a good idea to get a price quote from an independent shipping agent before you agree to ship your items from the taxidermist.

Shipping process in South Africa

Your chosen shipping agent moves the crate to their warehouse, starting the export shipping process.

The taxidermist should have already applied for the necessary permits.

If a government conservation authority needs to inspect, it happens at the shipping company’s warehouse.

The crates are then loaded onto an airplane or into a shipping container for sea transport, after all documents are checked by the import agent.

Finally, the crates are shipped by air or sea to the entry port in the United States.


High-quality crating is essential for safely transporting trophies, as most shipping issues stem from damage within poorly handled crates. Here’s how to ensure your trophies are properly secured during transit:

  1. Secure Mounting: Trophies should be firmly secured within the crate. This prevents movement that could lead to damage. The interior arrangement should be such that fur or skins do not rub against the wood or any internal supports, which could cause wear or tearing.
  2. Handling Horns: For large-horned animals like kudu and gemsbok, the horns should be removable to save space in the crate. Once removed, they must be safely wrapped and securely fastened within the crate to prevent any movement.
  3. Minimizing Space: Effective crating minimizes unused space to prevent the contents from shifting during transport. Proper packing is a skilled task that requires careful planning and execution.
  4. Material Selection: The choice of wood for the crate is crucial. Some woods are sturdier and provide better protection against external impacts. The wood used should be durable enough to protect the contents but also compliant with international shipping standards regarding wood treatment.
  5. Structural Integrity: The base of the crate should be robust, equipped with a solid footer that can withstand the weight of the contents. This design is vital for the safe lifting and moving of the crate with a forklift, ensuring that it can be transported without risking structural collapse.

Investing in high-quality crating is a crucial step in ensuring that your trophies arrive in the best condition, minimizing the risk of damage during their journey.

Clearing Process in the United States

Here’s what you need to do when importing wildlife trophies:

  1. Choose the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Designated Port of Entry closest to where the trophies will be delivered, whether that’s a U.S. taxidermist (for unprocessed trophies) or your home (for processed trophies).
  2. Provide the full name and contact information for your chosen customs broker who will handle the clearance.
  3. Connect the shipping agent who is sending your trophies with the customs broker who will receive them. This ensures they can communicate to confirm all required documents and logistics are correctly arranged.
  4. Submit all your requests in writing, and clearly state any special instructions to ensure transparency with all parties involved. Keep copies of all correspondence for your records.

Hunters should understand that importing wildlife products involves multiple government agencies.

In the United States, these include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

These agencies inspect trophies to ensure compliance with customs, wildlife regulations, and domestic agriculture and animal husbandry standards.

Additionally, if the trophy shipment includes primate species, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may also require inspection.

Each agency checks for specific documents to verify that the shipment adheres to current regulations. Missing or incorrect documents can lead to costly delays or even force the return of the shipment to its origin at the hunter’s expense.

In the U.S., each agency plays a distinct role. CBP acts as the coordinator among the agencies, with CBP and FWS handling law enforcement and CBP/Agriculture and USDA ensuring safety against invasive pests and diseases.

How to ship trophies from Africa to the United States


Trophy coverage can vary. It can be covered from the African taxidermist to the port of entry in your home country. Some coverage is for the entire way from a taxidermist in Africa through the freighting, clearing, and transportation to your trophy room, covering the whole journey. Finding accountability should something go wrong can be difficult.

Permits required for shipping trophies back to the United States

When shipping your hunting trophies back to the United States, several permits are necessary to ensure everything is done legally. The following summary applies specifically to plains game hunted with Nick Bowker Hunting. If you plan to hunt animals not offered by Nick Bowker, you will need to consult your own outfitter to determine the required permits for those species. Make sure to gather all necessary information from your outfitter to ensure a smooth and legal transportation of your trophies for South African hunting safari shipping.

South African permit requirements for plains game

Tops permit – threatened or protected species

The Black Wildebeest, Common Reedbuck and Roan Antelope are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species of least concern, and the United States does not require any special hunting permits for importing trophies of these species. However, in South Africa, you must obtain a Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) permit before hunting Black Wildebeest, Common Reedbuck and Roan Antelope.

It is the responsibility of the outfitter to secure permits. Once obtained, the outfitter will pass the permit along to the shipping company and the taxidermist to ensure all legal requirements are met for the export and handling of the trophy.

AIS permit – Alien Invasive Species

Red Lechwe and Fallow Deer, which are not indigenous to the Eastern Cape, are classified as Alien Species in that region. As a result, landowners must obtain an Alien Invasive Species Permit (AIS permit) to have these animals on their property.

This requirement also extends to hunting these species, meaning that anyone planning to hunt Red Lechwe or Fallow Deer in the Eastern Cape needs to ensure that the landowner has the appropriate AIS permit. This permit is crucial for the legal management and control of non-native species., helping to maintain local ecosystem balance.

CITES Permit Sytem

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit system is essential for regulating international trade of species listed under its three Appendices. For any trade involving these species, a CITES permit or certificate is usually required. This document serves as proof from the issuing authority that the trade meets specific criteria: it is legal, sustainable, and traceable, adhering to Articles III, IV, and V of the Convention.

Each country that is a party to the Convention has a designated national CITES Management Authority responsible for issuing these permits, based on recommendations from that country’s CITES Scientific Authority. The parties to the Convention have agreed on a standard format for CITES permits and certificates to ensure consistency and clarity in the trade of protected species. This standardization helps facilitate international cooperation and compliance, ensuring that the trade does not threaten the survival of species involved.

CITES Appendix I

For species listed under CITES Appendix I, the procedure for obtaining permits involves a few key steps:

  1. Obtaining an Import Permit: The client must apply for a CITES IMPORT permit from their local issuing authority in their home country. This permit can be obtained after completing the safari.
  2. Communicating with South African Agents: Once the import permit is received, the client should send a copy to their taxidermist or clearing agent in South Africa.
  3. Applying for an Export Permit: The South African taxidermist or agent will then use the import permit to apply for the corresponding CITES EXPORT permit. The export permit will not be issued without first receiving a copy of the import permit.

CITES Appendix II

For species under CITES Appendix II, the process is slightly different:

  1. Obtaining an Export Permit: The South African taxidermist or the forwarding/dip and pack agents apply directly for the CITES EXPORT permit.
  2. Obtaining an Import Permit: After the export permit is secured, the client’s home country will then issue the CITES IMPORT permit.

Common Species Hunted under CITES Appendixes I and II

Appendix I includes species that are threatened with extinction and for which trade must be subject to particularly strict regulation. This appendix prevents commercial international trade except when it can be demonstrated that such trade will not adversely affect the species’ survival in the wild. Species listed here include:

  • Leopard
  • Black rhino
  • Black-footed cat
  • Cape mountain zebra

Appendix II includes species that, although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. It also includes species that resemble others listed for conservation reasons. These species are regulated to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. Species listed in this appendix include:

  • Hippo
  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Crocodile
  • Bontebok
  • Caracal
  • Hartmann zebra
  • White rhino
  • All monkeys
  • All baboons
  • Blue duiker
  • African wild cat

Designated ports of entry for the importation of wildlife products in the USA

The following ports of entry are designated for the importation and exportation of wildlife and wildlife products and are referred to hereafter as “designated ports”:

Most trophies from Africa clear through Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, Los Angeles, California, New York, New York and Miami, Florida.

(a) Anchorage, Alaska.

(b) Atlanta, Georgia.

(c) Baltimore, Maryland.

(d) Boston, Massachusetts.

(e) Chicago, Illinois.

(f) Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

(g) Honolulu, Hawaii.

(h) Houston, Texas.

(i) Los Angeles, California.

(j) Louisville, Kentucky.

(k) Memphis, Tennessee.

(l) Miami, Florida.

(m) New Orleans, Louisiana.

(n) New York, New York.

(o) Portland, Oregon.

(p) San Francisco, California.

(q) Seattle, Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a customs broker?

A customs broker is a professional licensed by the Treasury Department after passing an exam.

They are also vetted by the FBI to represent companies or individuals in dealings with customs and border protection and other relevant government agencies involved in importing goods.

customs brokers are well-versed in all the necessary regulations pertaining to your specific products and stay updated on changes in regulations across various government bodies.

They know precisely what information is needed on each form and how to navigate the complexities of various government agencies to ensure a smooth and successful import process.

What to provide your hunting operator to arrange your trophy Shipment?

When arranging for your trophy shipment with your hunting operator, here’s what you need to provide:

Full Legal Name: Give your complete legal name as it will be needed for the hunting license and all related documentation.

Port of Entry: Choose a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Designated Port of Entry that is closest to where you plan to have your trophies delivered. Remember, not every international airport has an onsite FWS office.

Customs Broker: Select a customs broker who will receive the trophies. Provide their full name and contact details. The customs broker will handle all the necessary clearance procedures with the relevant government agencies.

What documents must accompany your shipment and who is responsible for them?

Here’s a breakdown of the necessary documents that must accompany your trophy shipment and who is typically responsible for preparing them:

CITES Permits and Export Documentation: These are often prepared by the shipping agent, although many taxidermists also handle the preparation of CITES and other export documents.

Veterinary Certificates: Usually prepared by the taxidermist to ensure that all health and safety regulations are met.

Hunting License Copies: Provided by the outfitter, these copies are crucial to verify the legality of the hunt.

Accurate Descriptions: It’s important that all items and wildlife parts in the shipment match the descriptions on the documents. This includes specifying the state of the trophies (e.g., finished skulls, dried skins, tanned skins, fully mounted), which helps avoid delays with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Documentation Accuracy: As the importer of record, you need to carefully check all documentation for errors or typos. Don’t assume that documents are error-free or that another party will correct mistakes.

You are responsible and liable for the accuracy of the information provided to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and any other involved government agencies.

Taking responsibility for ensuring that all documentation is complete and accurate can help prevent delays and complications during the import process.

Can trophies from different hunters be put in the same crate?

In international shipping, it’s important to distinguish between “consolidated” and “commingled” shipments, especially when it involves multiple hunters.

Consolidation refers to the process where shipments from multiple entities are packed separately but shipped together under one main conveyance or master bill of lading. Each entity’s shipment is issued a unique house bill of lading that travels under the master bill.

This method allows for shipments to be transported together on one conveyance, yet each is manifested separately and cleared individually.

Commingling, on the other hand, involves packing items from multiple hunters in a single crate. This practice should be avoided.

Exceptions to this rule are limited to family relationships, such as husband/wife and parent/minor child combinations.

Moreover, each hunter must provide a customs broker with a customs power of attorney, which legally authorizes the broker to handle and take possession of the shipment. This legal document is crucial for ensuring the broker can properly manage the customs clearance process.

Understanding these distinctions and following the correct procedures is vital to avoid delays and complications during the import process, ensuring that each hunter’s trophies are properly managed and accounted for.

Taxidermy and Shipping

South African Taxidermy Prices – Calculate Your Africa Taxidermy Cost

Below are our South African Taxidermy Prices and price list for and costs 2023.

Nick Bowker Hunting uses African Wildlife Artistry as our South African taxidermist. Our African taxidermy rates are competitive and transparent for your hunting safari.

Whether you are trophy hunting, dangerous game, or plains game, we have all your taxidermy needs covered in South Africa.

South African Taxidermy Prices for 2024

The process – Nick Bowker Hunting

Alternative one is that you dip and pack your trophies and have your taxidermist do the Taxidermy. Dip and pack is a chemical treatment of your trophies and a legal requirement for entrance in the United States.

Alternative two is that you use South African taxidermists and have the final product shipped.

For both alternatives, you need to decide which trophies you will be doing a shoulder mount (or pedestal mount) for and which trophies you will be doing a European skull mount for. (And if you wish to do a back skin or flat skin)

Most hunters only decide on that upon the completion of their hunt in Africa.

We take care of all the field preparation of trophies and delivery to the Taxidermist, all of which are included in your package. Our skinners have a lifetime of experience in field trophy preparation. African Wildlife Taxidermy collects trophies after each hunt.

Nick Bowker Hunting and African Wildlife Artistry make sure that your Taxidermy mount is of high quality, follow up on delivery, and make sure that your trophies are delivered safely and sound.

The process – African Wildlife Artistry

We work on an eight-month to yearly basis from the date of deposit and will keep you updated on the progress.  

Please also advise us of how you want your trophies mounted, for example, looking to the left or the right or straight from the animal’s point of view.

Please specify when having a floor pedestal what kind of pedestal you would want (rustic, teak), and please specify if you have any height restrictions?

You can take a look at our website for mounting instructions.

We used trusted shipping agents.  Once trophies are ready to go and are delivered to the shipping agent, he will email you with the airfreight amount which you can deposit directly into his account, and then he will send the trophies.

Please also email us the clearing agent’s details you will be using on your side to clear your trophies.  If you do not know one, we can assist with emailing you details of one.

Please confirm with your clearing agent if Import permits are needed, especially if there are CITES animals.

About African Wildlife Artistry

African Wildlife Artistry is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, only 180 km from Port Elizabeth in Somerset East.

The Taxidermy is operated under the family guidance of Rudolph and Caroline Ferreira. Rudolph was qualified in Helena, Montana, USA.

Being an avid outdoorsman & artist for so many years, Rudolph has found great pleasure in creating pieces that reflect the true beauty of African game. African Wildlife Artistry offers an exclusive, high-quality & comprehensive service to both local & international clients.

Our South African taxidermy services include the mounting, dip & packing, and tanning flat skins of all animals, birds & reptiles to the client’s specifications. With the backing of supported staff members & using only the latest products & methods, African Wildlife Artistry has established a name for artistic innovation, quality & personal attention to detail to create life-like trophies.

Safari trophies, dip & packing are collected & delivered to our clients with all the necessary documentation taken care of.

The National Department of Agriculture approves our premises & all items are checked & tagged before entering into our preparation process. To ensure shipping cost is kept to a minimum, our crates are custom-built for each client on the premises.

Our objective is perfection & we hope to leave our clients with the best memories of their hunting experience in the reproduction & lifelikeness of their prized trophies.

African Wildlife Artistry is a leading South African taxidermist with a worldwide client base. Our African taxidermist price list is competitive and transparent.

Taxidermy Products

Detailed price lists for the species offered by Nick Bowker Hunting for each essential category of available Taxidermy are below. These include:

  • Shoulder Mounts
  • European Skull Mounts
  • Full Mount
  • Half Mounts
  • Shoulder Wall Pedestal
  • Floor Pedestal
  • Tanning of Flat Skin
  • Tanning of Back Skin
  • Dip and Pack
  • Sheild Mounts
  • Bleeched Skulls

Terms and Conditions

A 50% deposit and all taxidermy instructions are due before we commence taxidermy work; the balance is due before shipping.

All South African taxidermist work incurs a 10% fee for export documentation, packing, crating, and admin. Other custom work is priced as follows:

  • Shield Mounts are 70% of the skull mount price
  • Bleached skulls are 70% of the skull mount price
  • Half Mounts are 60% of the full mount price
  • Floor pedestals are shoulder mounts + $390 for the pedestal
  • Open mouths are plus 15%

Our South African Trophy Taxidermist Price List for 2023

Skull Mount – South African Taxidermist Price List

Blesbok Common$220
Blesbok White$220
Bushbuck Southern$220
Cape Buffalo$400
Common Reedbuck$200
Duiker Grey$140
Eland Cape$320
Fallow Deer$220
Grey Rhebuck$200
Impala Black$220
Kudu Cape$240
Mountain Reedbuck$200
Red Hartebeest$250
Red Lechwe$220
Roan Antelope$240
Sable Antelope$240
Springbok Black$200
Springbok Common$200
Springbok Copper$200
Springbok White$200
Wildebeest Black$240
Wildebeest Blue$240

Full Mount – South Africa Taxidermy Prices

Blesbok Common$2100
Blesbok White$2100
Bushbuck Southern$2100
Cape Buffalo$8700
Common Reedbuck$2000
Duiker Grey$1000
Eland Cape$8400
Fallow Deer$2100
Grey Rhebuck$2000
Impala Black$2100
Kudu Cape$5000
Mountain Reedbuck$2000
Red Hartebeest$5000
Red Lechwe$3800
Roan Antelope$4800
Sable Antelope$5000
Springbok Black$5000
Springbok Common$2000
Springbok Copper$2000
Springbok White$2000
Wildebeest Black$5000
Wildebeest Blue$5000

Shoulder Mount – Wall Pedestal Prices

Blesbok Common$700
Blesbok White$700
Bushbuck Southern$630
Cape Buffalo$1500
Common Reedbuck$600
Duiker Grey$480
Eland Cape$1500
Fallow Deer$650
Grey Rhebuck$580
Impala Black$700
Kudu Cape$1000
Mountain Reedbuck$640
Red Hartebeest$880
Red Lechwe$800
Roan Antelope$1000
Sable Antelope$1000
Springbok Black$620
Springbok Common$620
Springbok Copper$620
Springbok White$620
Wildebeest Black$1000
Wildebeest Blue$1000

Dip and Pack – Africa Taxidermy Price List

Dip and
Blesbok Common$150
Blesbok White$150
Bushbuck Southern$150
Cape Buffalo$260
Common Reedbuck$120
Duiker Grey$150
Eland Cape$200
Fallow Deer$150
Grey Rhebuck$120
Impala Black$150
Kudu Cape$150
Mountain Reedbuck$120
Red Hartebeest$150
Red Lechwe$150
Roan Antelope$150
Sable Antelope$150
Springbok Black$120
Springbok Common$120
Springbok Copper$120
Springbok White$120
Wildebeest Black$150
Wildebeest Blue$150

Back Skin – South Africa Taxidermy Price List

of Back
Blesbok Common$100
Blesbok White$100
Bushbuck Southern$100
Cape Buffalo$650
Common Reedbuck$180
Duiker Grey$100
Eland Cape$300
Fallow Deer$100
Grey Rhebuck$90
Impala Black$80
Kudu Cape$200
Mountain Reedbuck$90
Red Hartebeest$170
Red Lechwe$180
Roan Antelope$200
Sable Antelope$200
Springbok Black$90
Springbok Common$90
Springbok Copper$90
Springbok White$90
Wildebeest Black$200
Wildebeest Blue$200

Tanning of Flat Skin – South Africa Taxidermy prices

Enquire about a shield mount if you would like some animals with a shield mount.

of Flat
Blesbok Common$180
Blesbok White$180
Bushbuck Southern$160
Cape Buffalo$1300
Common Reedbuck$220
Duiker Grey$140
Eland Cape$540
Fallow Deer$160
Grey Rhebuck$130
Impala Black$140
Kudu Cape$300
Mountain Reedbuck$130
Red Hartebeest$230
Red Lechwe$250
Roan Antelope$300
Sable Antelope$300
Springbok Black$130
Springbok Common$130
Springbok Copper$130
Springbok White$130
Wildebeest Black$260
Wildebeest Blue$300

We reserve the right to change taxidermy prices without notice.