Encyclopedia of African Huntable Animals
HUNTING DANGEROUS GAME IN AFRICA
Hunting dangerous game in Africa is the pinnacle of hunting. Nowhere else on the planet will a hunter find the variety of dangerous game. Add to this, the abundance of differing terrain and hunting methods, and it is no wonder that dangerous game hunting on the African continent is the stuff of legends. The fortunate big-game hunters that manage to make their first trip for these magnificent animals will surely be hooked for life and be planning a return trip before he has landed back home.
The dangerous game animals of Africa are comprised of what is known as the big five plus the crocodile and the hippo. The big five is made up of the buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. Together they make up what is known as Africa’s dangerous seven. Taking these 7 magnificent dangerous game animals in Africa is one of the greatest accomplishments a hunter can achieve. Taking all seven animals makes you a great hunter in the eyes of your peers.
The most popular and affordable animal in the big five is the buffalo. Africa has 4 different subspecies of buffalo, but by far the most popular is the Southern Savannah Buffalo, more commonly known as the Cape Buffalo. Many big game hunters begin their pursuit of the big five by hunting Cape Buffalo. A Cape Buffalo hunt is the most affordable of the big five, and is the most widely distributed and ranges from the South of South Africa up into Kenya. Buffalo can carry bovine diseases, and therefore are not typically found in ranch country. Hunting this dangerous game animal occurs in wild Africa. Large parks, backcountry areas and areas populated by primitive tribes are areas that vast herds of Cape Buffalo are found in today.
Buffalo are mostly hunted by tracking. Either herds or bachelor groups are followed until the buffalo are encountered. Large herds are difficult to hunt, as the many sets of eyes, noses and ears make for a wary foe. Wounded buffalo have deservedly earned the name “Black Death”, and are known for lying in wait for the hunters on their trail and then bursting from cover in a charge with little or no warning.
Hunting dangerous game in Africa includes the largest land mammal on earth, the elephant. There are two sub species of elephants in Africa, the savanna elephant and the forest elephant. In 1930, it was estimated that there were 5 – 10 million elephants in Africa. Today it is estimated that there are 450,000 – 700,000 elephants remaining. Habitat loss and poaching have been primary causes of this decline.
Elephants are hunted by tracking. Male savanna elephants carry heavy ivory and are highly sought after trophies by hunters. The number of countries where elephant hunting is allowed is declining as populations dwindle due to poaching.
Hunting dangerous game also includes the leopard. Although small in stature, the leopard is included in the big five due to its ferocity and quickness. A wounded leopard has wounded many a hunter who attempted to follow it after making a less than ideal shot. The wounded leopard will use its excellent camouflage to lie in wait for its pursuer and then burst out of nowhere in a fury to attack its pursuer.
Leopards are one of the more difficult dangerous game animals to hunt and are typically hunted by baiting and waiting in a blind. Some hunting with dogs still occurs in Zimbabwe. Tracking in sandy areas was a past method used, but has mostly been eliminated in the Kalahari Desert. A few countries allow the use of artificial light for hunting leopards. Leopards are mostly nocturnal, so the use of artificial light greatly increases the odds of a successful hunt.
The African lion is considered by most hunters to be the greatest trophy in Africa, and the most dangerous. A lion charge is slower than a leopard, but if it reaches its target, the consequences can be severe, if not fatal! Wild lions are under pressure from human encroachment and loss of habitat. It is estimated that only 35,000 lions remain in the wild in Africa today. Due to this scarcity, the price of wild lion hunting has risen and become difficult for the average hunter to afford. Most wild lions are hunted by baiting and then waiting in a blind to get a shot at the male lion. An effort is underway in Africa for wild lions to only harvest males that are 6 years old or more, to avoid taking male lions that are in their prime breeding years.
The most affordable lion hunts today are done within high fence enclosures in South Africa. Many of these lions have been raised in captivity and are released for hunting. These captive raised lions are hunted by tracking in sandy soil areas and make for an exciting hunt.
Hunting dangerous game in Africa would not be complete without the rhinoceros. There are two sub-species of rhino, the white rhinoceros and the black rhinoceros. The white rhino is a grazer and the black rhino is a browser. The black rhino is more aggressive and is considered to be more dangerous. White rhino populations are estimated at 20,000, while black rhino populations are believed to be 4,000. Most rhino hunting is done for white rhinos.
Many hunters now dart rhinos in what is known as a green hunt. The rhino becomes unconscious from a drug that is administered by the dart. A veterinarian then takes the rhinos vitals and examines his health. An antidote is administered and the hunter quickly has his picture taken with the rhino before it wakes up.
Crocodile are considered to be dangerous game hunting because they take the lives of many native people in Africa. Although the crocodile has a brain the size of a golf ball, the crocodile has evolved into an incredibly effective and stealthy predator. Crocodiles are found throughout river systems and lakes in Africa.
Crocodile are hunted by two main methods, spot and stalk and baiting. Both methods are effective and require accurate shots to either hit the brain or break the spine. A shot that is off slightly may see the croc slide into the water, never to be seen again!
Finally, dangerous game hunting in Africa includes the hippo. The hippo is found throughout southern and central Africa and is present in a wide variety of river and lake systems. It is estimated that around 120,000 hippos remain in Africa today. Hippos are largely aquatic, but feed at night on dry land. They are deceptively fast and are dangerous when approached in the water and on dry land.
The males possess large ivory tusks that are prized because they do not yellow with age. Most hippos taken are bulls. These bulls are very territorial and will fight with other males over territory.
Hippos are hunted via spot and stalk methods and require an accurate brain shot to insure a kill. If shot in the water, many times the hippo will sink and the hunter must wait up to 4 hours for the gasses to build up in the hippo and refloat to the surface.
In summary, dangerous game hunting in Africa offers excitement that is hard to find today. Hunting dangerous game in Africa is one of the world’s great remaining adventures and should be the goal of every hunter to experience it at least once in their life.