$8M Demand for Endangered Antelope Work

     (CN) – A South African who captured 16 of the world’s largest antelope – an endangered species called giant eland – says in court he is still waiting for his cut.
     John Brooker filed the complaint Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court against the International Animal Exchange and its representative, Richard Hunt.
     The South African plaintiff describes himself as an international game trader and conservationist with the “sole right, granted to him by the president of the Central African Republic, to capture and remove” giant eland.
     He, Hunt and the late Rolf Rohwer allegedly made a deal in 1984 for Brooker to capture a number of the antelope for sale to the Los Angeles Zoo.
     Brooker says the partnership benefitted him since “he would not have to finance the operation, including the quarantine and airfreight expenses to ship the animals.”
     The deal also allegedly included a long-term investment for Brooker “in the breeding program and offspring of such animals.”
     After selling a 50 percent share in the giant eland to the zoo for $1 million per head, the deal called for the partners to split the remaining interest in the zoo’s breeding project for the antelope, according to the complaint.
     Brooker says he captured and delivered 16 young and healthy giant eland to the Central African Republic’s Bangui quarantine in 1985, and left them in the care of Hunt’s nephew. When he returned later in the year, “Hunt had already moved the animals to the U.S. without consulting plaintiff,” in violation of the agreement, he says.
     Without Brooker’s expertise in animal care, five of the animals died while in quarantine and another died in transit, he claims – a total loss of $12 million, the complaint alleges.
     Brooker says Rohwer told him “Hunt would not agree to sell and wanted to just continue to breed the animals and have them and their progeny amass value for what would amount to a retirement type of investment.”
     Later, however, Brooker allegedly discovered that Hunt did sell the animals to the Los Angeles zoo, and continues to receive royalties under the retained 50 percent interest from the surviving offspring of the animals Brooker originally captured.
     “Defendants did compensate Mr. Rohwer, and conspired between themselves to deny plaintiff his rightful compensation,” Brooker says.
     Pointing to files Brooker allegedly acquired in litigation with Rohwer’s estate, Brooker says he found a fabricated document indicated he had sold his rights in the partnership for $230,000 in 1989.
     “The signature on such document was forged,” he claims.
     Rohwer seeks at least $8 million, half of the animals’ $16 million sale price, and punitive damages for breach of contract, dissolution of the partnership, fraud, conversion, and unjust enrichment.
     He is represented by Roger Blank.

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