Have you always dreamed of an African hunting safari? These are the top 10 animals to hunt in Africa.
Africa is a very large and diverse continent with many different species of wildlife available for hunting. In fact, the sheer numbers of wildlife that may be encountered on a single hunting safari in many places in Africa will likely overwhelm a hunter who may only see a handful on animals on a typical hunting trip in the USA. Obviously, it’s impossible to go after all of them on a single trip, but these are the most commonly hunted animals in Africa.
When making this list, I tried to choose the game animals that are most often hunted by Americans in Africa. Though the species of animals on this list tend to be the most popular, this is not just a list of the 10 most common animals to hunt in Africa. It is also a very good representation of the diverse ecosystems present in the five most popular African countries to hunt as well as the animals that are most commonly associated with Africa.
Fortunately, thanks to the many conservation benefits that stem from well regulated trophy hunting, populations of most species of game in Africa are larger now than they have ever been. For that reason, an African hunting safari with one of the many skilled professional hunters is not nearly as expensive as you probably think.
So, this list of the top animals to hunt in Africa should give you a good place to start if you’re in the early stages of planning an African safari.
Keep reading to see our choices for the top 10 animals for big game hunters in Africa.
Impala are a medium-sized antelope and are possibly the most popular animal to hunt in Africa. They are gregarious animals and large herds of them are commonly observed feeding in the open grasslands that they love. Most often weighing 100-150 pounds, they are approximately the same size and build as a white-tailed deer.
Native to Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawai, and Tanzania, impala are a common and relatively inexpensive animal to hunt in Africa over most of their range. In addition to being very common targets for trophy hunters, young rams and ewes provide excellent table fare and are commonly shot for camp meat as well as bait for lion and leopard hunting.
2. Blue Wildebeest
Blue Wildebeest are a large species of antelope that are particularly well known in Tanzania thanks to their long migrations following the rains. Blue Wildebeest are grazing animals and live in herds ranging in size from a handful of individuals to thousands of wildebeest. They are most often found in open terrain and are usually in the company of zebra, springbok, and impala.
Blue Wildebeest typically weigh 500-600 pounds and are recognized as exceptionally tough animals. They are commonly known as the “Poor Man’s Cape Buffalo” for their ability to soak up bullets, seemingly without effect. They live over a wide swath of Africa including Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawai, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia.
3. Greater Kudu
Possibly the most graceful and majestic animal on the continent, Greater Kudu have been the objective of many hunters over the years. Greater Kudu are probably best known for their extremely long, spiraling horns. The size of the horn varies, but most adult kudu bulls have horns that measure 45-55 inches, with exceptional kudu having horns around 70? long. Kudu are among the largest antelope on the continent and usually weigh 600-700 pounds. However, they are exceptionally nimble for an animal of their size. Known as the “Grey Ghost,” kudu are can be extremely elusive animals. They inhabit thickly wooded areas from Tanzania down through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia. Of these places, South Africa’s Limpopo Province has perhaps the best kudu hunting anywhere in Africa.
Due to their distinctive black and white stripes, zebra are one of the most recognizable animals in Africa. Weighing up to 800 pounds, zebra are a species of equids that are somewhat related to horses and donkeys. Though they do not have horns, zebra are often hunted for their unique hides. Since they are also a food source for many predators in Africa, zebra are also hunted to use as bait when hunting leopard and lion.
Zebra are divided into two primary species: Plains & Mountain Zebra, which accurately describe the habitat they live in. Plains Zebra most often live in open grasslands and are commonly found in large herds in the company of wildebeest. Plains Zebra are extremely common and are found in virtually all of southern and eastern Africa. Mountain Zebra are much less common, live in smaller groups, and are only found in specific parts of South Africa and Namibia.
Gemsbok are a large species of antelope and usually weigh 500-700 pounds. Both male and female gemsbok have long, straight horns. However, males usually have horns that are shorter and thicker than the horns on females. This makes the Gemsbok unusual because females are often pursued instead of males for their longer, more desirable horns. Gemsbok inhabit arid regions of the Kalahari Desert and its surrounding regions in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. They are well adapted to life in arid and semi-arid environments and do not need to drink water in order to survive, as they can fulfill all of their water needs through the foods they eat. Gemsbok are also known for being extremely resilient animals and can be very tough to bring down.
6. Cape Buffalo
The first member of the “Big 5” species of big game on the list, Cape Buffalo are a very popular species of dangerous game among hunters journeying to Africa. Distantly related to domesticated cattle, Cape Buffalo are known for being extremely large, tough, and ill tempered. Big bulls can weigh nearly 2,000 pounds have large horns that sweep down before curving upwards and to the rear.
Buffalo are grazing animals that live in herds in a wide variety of places in Africa. The main feature that they depend upon is water and they inhabit various swamps, forests, and grasslands in Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. Other than man, lions are the only serious predators for adult Cape Buffalo, though crocodiles, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs will prey on the young, weak, or unwary. Buffalo also have a well deserved reputation for being extremely aggressive, especially when injured and are sometimes referred to as “The Black Death.” While this nickname probably exaggerates their true nature, they do kill and injure a large number of people each year and buffalo charges resulting in injuries are not uncommon.
Similar in some ways to impala, springbok are a medium sized species of antelope that usually weigh 75-100 pounds. Like Gemsbok, they inhabit arid and semi-arid areas of South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. Depending on the season, they are either grazers or browsers and are often seen in large herds of up to several hundred animals on the open grasslands of their habitat. They also get all the water they need from their foods and do not need to drink water to survive. Springbok are known for their extremely tasty meat and beautiful hides.
The warthog is a medium sized member of the pig family and typically weighs 150-300 pounds. They are found all over Africa except for dense forests and deserts. They are among the most reliant of all species in Africa on water and must drink daily to survive. Unfortunately, this also means they are among the first animals to suffer during an extended drought.
All warthogs have two sets of tusks, which are basically very large teeth, though males have larger tusks than females. The tusks are used for digging, protection from predators, and for dominance fights between males. Males have two sets of “warts” on the sides of their face which are actually fat stores and provide protection from other warthogs when they fight. Warthogs are omnivirous and eat a wide variety of food. They are also a source of food for lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, wild dogs, and crocodiles.
The eland is the largest species of antelope in the world and big bulls may weigh in excess of 2,200 pounds (bigger than a Cape Buffalo). Eland are also a species of spiral horned antelope and both males and females have horns, though the horns on a female are smaller than those on a male. Eland inhabit large portions of central, eastern, and southern Africa. They usually live in small herds and are found almost everywhere except for thick forests, deserts, and swamps. They are well adapted to both grazing and browsing and will vary their diet according to the season. Eland are also very mild mannered and they may be domesticated. Finally, eland are also well known on the savanna for their delicious meat.
The smallest of the “big cats,” the leopard is the second member of the “Big 5” on this list. Weighing 120-200 pounds, leopards are opportunistic predators that inhabit a wide range of ecosystems all over Africa. Their diet widely varies depending on the food sources in the area, but they seem to prefer medium sized antelope when given the opportunity. Leopards are very fast and extremely strong. They routinely carry their kills up into trees so that they are out of reach from ground bound predators and scavengers such as hyena.
Unfortunately, their numbers have been on the decline lately and though they still inhabit most of Africa, their populations are much smaller and more fragmented than it used to be. “Mr. Spots” is a shy, solitary, and elusive animal. Leopards do most of their hunting at night, so encountering them during the day is rare indeed. The only reliable ways of hunting leopard are with hounds (where legal) or over bait, which is the most common method. Though they are not normally aggressive towards humans, they can be quite dangerous when injured.
What did you think about our choices for the top animals to hunt in Africa? Did we miss any?
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on his hunting blog. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt or check out one of his South African hunting safaris.
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