Hunting Thomson's Gazelle in Africa

Hunting Thomson's Gazelle in Africa

A gazelle is one of an African antelope species in the genus Gazella.  The name gazelle is from the Persian word Ghazel that means “elegant and quick”.  When you hunt Thomson's gazelle in Africa you are not hunting just one animal.  There are nineteen species of gazelle according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).  The smaller species, like Thomson’s gazelle and Speke’s gazelle, are only 20 to 43 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 26 to 165 pounds.  The dama gazelle is the largest gazelle at 88 to 165 pounds and 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall.

One very familiar gazelle is the African Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii).  The males have long, curved horns that are heavier than the female’s, and strongly ringed.  Females have horns that are slimmer, straighter, and smoother than those of the male.  Female Thomson’s gazelle live in herds of 10 to 30 animals along with their young.  Males either live alone, or in small, all-male, groups.  Mating season is timed so that the newborn fauns are born during the rainy season so that they have enough water to drink.  Gestation is six months, and one or two fauns are born.  For the first few months the ewe hides the faun in tall grass.  The fauns stay with the ewe while nursing.  Then, when they can care for themselves, they are moved into the herds.  Lifespan of the gazelle is 10 to 12 years.

Thomson's gazelle are fast animals.  Some can do short bursts at 60 miles per hour, or sustain 30 miles per hour for great distances.  Most gazelle subspecies dwell in deserts, savannas, and the grasslands of Africa.  To subsist in hot, dry climates, these gazelles have the ability to shrink their heart and liver.  A smaller heart and liver need less oxygen, so the gazelle can breath less often, and because moisture is lost when breathing, loose less water.  They are herd animals and their diet is composed of easily digested plants, leaves, and grass. 

Many gazelle species have a distinctive behavior of stotting when danger is near.  This involves running and jumping at the same time.  There are many predators that hunt Thomson's gazelle in Africa. These are lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, and African wild dogs.  An African gazelle will flick its tail, or stamp its feet to warn other gazelles of the presence of a predator. 

African gazelles are herbivores, and consume only vegetable products like fresh shoots of plants, leaves, and grass.  They will drink water during the dry months, but are capable of going without water for long periods of time.  Some gazelle species can go their entire life without drinking water.  They get all the liquid they need from the food they eat.  They graze or browse early in the morning when the vegetation is holding a lot of water.  They lie up during the heat of the day, but will be up and around when the day cools.

Any good rifle suitable for hunting whitetail deer in America is more than suited for hunting Thomson’s gazelle in Africa.  For the smaller species of gazelle, the .243 Winchester cartridge with a 95-100 grain soft point bullet will put the animal down while not blowing large holes in it.  For a heavier-bodied gazelle, the 7 mm, .270, or one of the .30 calibers is sufficient.  When you are hunting Thomson’s gazelle in Africa, you won’t always get a right angle shot at the heart-lung area.  If the gazelle is facing you with its head up, place a shot where the neck joins the body.  If the head is down, a spine shot where the top of the neck meets the body will drop the animal.  Try to avoid head shots when you are hunting Thomson's gazelle in Africa because you can destroy the trophy.