Hunting Lord Derby Eland in Africa

Hunting Lord Derby Eland in Africa

One thing to know when hunting Lord Derby eland in Africa is that you are hunting the largest antelope in Africa.  The Lord Derby, or giant eland, (Taurotragus derbianus) stands six feet at the shoulder and weighs upwards of 2,200 pounds.  The females are smaller, topping out at 1,300 pounds. Both sexes wear spiral horns.  The male horns reach four feet in length while the female’s top at 2 feet.  The Lord Derby eland is a herbivore, consuming leaves, foliage, branches and grass.  The animal forms herds of both sexes numbering up to 25 antelope.  The giant eland is slightly larger than the common eland, but is called giant due to the size of its horns compared to the common eland.

The giant eland isn’t territorial, and wanders over a wide range.  It is found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and South Sudan.  It is an alert animal, and difficult for a hunter to approach when hunting Lord Derby eland in Africa. (Lord Derby was the Earl of Derby, an English title created in 1139AD.)  The giant eland can run at speeds up to 44 miles per hour maximum and can run continuosly for hours.

Link to Lord Derby Eland Hunts

Mating can occur throughout the year, but mostly takes place during the wet season.  Females reach maturity at two years, males at four to five years.  Gestation period is nine months after which a single calf is born.  The calf stays with the mother for up to six months when it will join a group of similar young elands. 

Giant elands are primarily nocturnal.  They have vast permanent ranges and settled seasonal migration patterns.  Eland herds usually contain 15-25 antelope and remain together year round.  During daytime hours, eland herds rest in shady, sheltered areas.  Giant eland males are wary and hard to approach.  In times of danger, the male will bark at the herd until the whole herd is up and running to safety.  Giant elands are exceptional jumpers and can clear a six foot obstacle with ease. 

Some of the primary predators that hunt Lord Derby eland in Africa are lions and hyena packs.  Sickly or young elands are in danger from leopards and wild dogs.  The mature, heavy large horned eland bulls can be hard to take down even by a lion pride. 

The giant eland’s habitat is the savanna, woodlands, and brush of central and West Africa.  They can also live in very dry climates and deserts.  The eastern giant eland is found in extensive areas, and is listed as “Least Concern”.  The eastern population of giant elands is thought to be around 15,000, of which 12,500 are in the Central African Republic.  Concern for the future of the eastern giant eland is based on the numerous conflicts in the general area.

The western giant eland is listed as Critically Endangered.  Around 1,000 western giant eland inhabit Senegal.  Seven to eight hundred are in the Niocolo-Koba National Park near the Guinea-Bissau border.  The remaining balance of the elands are in the area around the Faleme River.  Only a few giant elands live in nearby countries.  The major threats to the giant eland are overhunting for meat and habitat destruction caused by increasing human and livestock populations. 

The decline in the western giant eland population is being studied in some game preserves.  There are around 100 giant elands in semi-captivity that are undergoing a breeding study that shows the annual population increase to be around 130 eland.  With proper management of the captive animals, the western eland numbers could increase.

You hunt Lord Derby eland in Africa during the months of January, February and March when the animals are at their peak.  They are preparing for the breeding season and their necks have swollen up and their hide is in excellent condition.  Giant eland hunting usually requires active pursuit.  These animals don’t hang around very much.  They are skittish and will take alarm if anything disturbs them.  Almost all hunts will involve the hunter spending a goodly amount of time hunting on foot.

Link to Lord Derby Eland Hunt in Cameroon

You can use the safari truck to drive roads early in the morning to search for giant eland tracks, providing there are roads where you are hunting.  Once the spoor is located the hunter must get on the tracks and run them down at a good rate of speed.  Eland don’t use roads, so sometimes you must track them far into the bush, far from the camp, truck, or warm shower.  This could take days.

A good caliber rifle to hunt Lord Derby eland in Africa is the 9.3x74R with 286 grain bullets.  Another choice is the tried and true .375 H&H with .300 grain bullets.  You can hunt Lord Derby eland in Africa with smaller calibers, but you want the animal to go down fast.  A wounded eland can be a long drawn out process to track.