Hunting bontebok in Africa

Hunting Bontebok in Africa

The bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygarus) is an antelope found in South Africa in the Western Cape.  They stand 30-38 inches at the shoulder, and 50-85 inches nose to back of body.  Males are slightly larger than females, weighing upwards of 340 pounds.  The bontebok is chocolate brown on the body with a white belly and white stripe down its nose. Horns on both sexes are lyre-shaped and ringed.  The bontebok name comes from their coloring and originated with the Dutch pioneers that settled the South Cape in the 1600s.

African bontebok are plains animals and feed on short grasses.  They are diurnal, but rest during the heat of the day.  Herds consist of up to forty animals of either sex.  Ewes become sexually mature at two years of age.  Breeding takes place between January and mid-March.  Birth occurs after 250 days of gestation with a single calf born September-October.

Rams are territorial.  They will face down other males with aggressive displays and sometimes with combat.  During the breeding season, a bontebok ram will collect a harem of two to eight ewes and their calves.  Younger males form their own herds and generally stay away from the ewes.

African bontebok are very similar to the African blesbok to the point where the two species have been successfully bred with the offspring called a bontebles.  African bontebok are the more colorful of the two antelope with more white on their body.


Back in the early 1800s, hunting bontebok in Africa had nearly driven the bontebok iinto extinction.  The bontebok was hunted for its meat, hide and because it was considered a pest.  In 1830 there were only twenty two bontebok left in the world.  In 1931, Bontebok National Park was proclaimed and the African bontebok was declared protected.  The park is the smallest of the twenty South African National Parks, covering only 17 square miles.  The carrying capacity of Bontebok National Park is only 200 bontebok.  The worldwide bontebok population of 2,500-3,000 African bontebok have all grown from the original bontebok from this park.  Over the years the park’s surplus bontebok population has been transferred to private ranches and nature reserves.

Bontebok Conservation Status

The bontebok has appeared in Appendix II of the International Trade in Endangered Species Red List as “vulnerable”.  However, game ranches in South Africa have brought the African bontebok back to sustainable numbers and hunting bontebok in Africa is available both in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia.  The African bontebok is still listed under C.I.T.I.E.S. 1 which means both an export permit and an import permit will be needed.  Be sure to discuss with your outfitter the need for all these permits to be acquired before the hunt.

Bontebok Recomended Firearm Calibers

Hunting bontebok in Africa can be done with any rifle suitable for deer.  Anything in the .257 to .300 calibers will get the job done.  If, though, hunting will be done on open pains, a flat-shooting, hard-hitting caliber such as the .300 Magnums with 180 grain bullets that can reach out to 250-300 yards and still have a lot of energy left should be used.