Hunting Eland in Africa
The common eland (Taurotragus oryx) also known as the southern eland, is a savanna and plains animal found in southern and eastern Africa. When you are hunting eland in Africa, you are hunting the largest antelope that can be hunted in South Africa. The male eland weighs up to 2,100 pounds and stands 64 inches tall at the shoulder. The female is smaller at 980 pounds and 52 inches tall at the shoulder. The only larger antelope is the giant, or Lord Derby, eland found in central Africa.
The eland is native to Botswana, Congo, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and other countries. The eland’s diet consists mainly of grass and leaves. It will form herds of up to 400 animals with other elands. The eland’s habitat tends towards savanna, grasslands, and woodlands, staying away from densely forested lands. It communicates with barks and posturing to both communicate with other elands and warn of danger.
The eland’s population is estimated at 140,000 and is classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Both sexes have horns with a spiral ridge. Male’s horns average 16-25 inches long, shorter and thicker than the female’s, which can grow up to 26 inches in length. Males use their horns to fight with rivals. Females fight off predators with their horns. The eland isn’t very fast, but can maintain 15 miles per hour for hours. Startled elands can jump up to eight feet from a standing start. They can easily clear a six foot obstacle.
Some of the predators tha tare also hunting eland in Africa are lions, packs of wild dogs, cheetahs, and hyenas. As with other antelopes, eland calves are much more likely to be prey than adults. The eland’s life expectancy is roughly 15 to 20 years. Captive elands have been known to live 25 years. Elands are nomadic and wander the open plains of southern Africa. They feed in the early hours of the morning and the cool of late afternoon. They will seek out shade when the temperature rises, and stand in the sun when the day is cool. Females and their offspring will gather into herds, while the males form smaller groups, or travel alone. Elands in the south of Africa will associate with herds of gemsbok, roans, and zebras.
Elands prefer to inhabit the open plains of southern Africa and along the foothills of the African plateau. There is a low density of elands due to encroachment by civilization, and poachers who hunt eland in Africa. Elands will live in mountainous terrain at altitudes above 10,000 ft. They prefer sub-desert semi-arid plains that have bushes and grasses. They don’t live in wet, swampy land or in heavy forested areas.
Elands are herbivores that browse through the drier months and graze during the wet season when grasses have more moisture. They like leaves from plants but will consume trees, shrubs, bushes, grasses and tubers if nothing else is available. They will use their horns to break down branches above them. Most of their water needs are filled by the food they eat. They will drink if water is present, but can go a long time without drinking.
Females are sexually mature between 16 to 36 months. Males take up to 5 years to mature. Mating can happen at any time, but usually happens during the rainy season, with a single calf born nine months later. The herd male can mate with more than one female. Calves and their mothers form a nursery herd for a few months. The females will leave this group and return to the main herd while the calves stay behind. Calves will stay in the nursery group for two years and then join either a male or female group.
You will need to give some consideration to a rifle when youare hunting eland in Africa. Here’s where the larger calibers come into play. A lot of hunters and farmers swear by rifles in the .30 caliber class with 220 grain bullets up the spout. And there have been many successes by those so armed when they are hunting eland in Africa. However, shot placement is the key to putting down an eland with a .30 caliber rifle. A much better choice would be a heavier .338-358 caliber with 250-270 grain bullets. A poorly shot eland can go a very long ways. You would not be over gunned with a .375 caliber rifle like the Ruger Hawkeye African in .375 Ruger. This rifle will drive a 300 grain soft point at 2660 feet per second while packing 4700 foot pounds of energy. Plus it will open a nice big hole should you need to follow a wounded animal. Put the crosshairs behind the shoulder, one-third of the way up the body, and you will have a fabulous trophy.