Hunting Gerenuk in Africa

Hunting Gerenuk in Africa

African gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), also known as Waller’s gazelle, or giraffe-necked antelope, is a long-necked antelope found in dry thorn shrubland and desert in Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania.  The word gerenuk comes from the Somali word for “giraffe-necked” garanug.  Only the males have horns.  The horns grow backward and upward with hooked tips.  These animals have long, thin necks 7-10 inches in diameter.  The males weigh 100 pounds and stand 35-41 inches at the shoulder; the female is smaller, 65 pounds and 31-39 inches tall.

The gerenuk is diurnal and requires little drinking water.  It may live out its life without ever drinking. All the liquid it requires comes from the vegetation it consumes. Because of this lack of a need to drink, it can survive in very dry habitat.  Gerenuks are browsers, not grazers.  They favor trees and thorn bush and can stand on their hind legs, and elongate their neck to get higher leaves and branches than can other antelope.  They will also eat fruit, flowers, new buds, and plants.  They brace themselves against the tree with their forelegs to steady themselves.  From this position they use their long upper lip and tongue to eat the leaves.  They can browse up to seven feet on the tree.

Man is not the only animal hunting gerenuk in Africa.  Lion, cheetah, leopard, and jackals also hunt gerenuks in Africa.  The gerenuk uses its long, thin legs to aid it in escaping from predators trying to attack.  However, there is a possibility that the gerenuk could fracture a leg bone when running over uneven ground.  There have been several occasions where gerenuk have snapped a bone while in a mad dash for safety, and became the predator’s next meal.  Gerenuks form small mixed herds, or gather together in bachelor groups.

When alarmed, the gerenuk crouches down, drops its head to body level and breaks into a run.  When it sees something uncertain, it will freeze behind bushes and use its long neck to observe and make the decision to stay frozen or flee.  When hunting gerenuk in Africa, the best time for a shot is before they spot you, and then when they first freeze and look for danger. 

Gerenuk can mate during any month.  Females reach sexual maturity at 12 months.  Males take another six months to mature, but they won’t breed until they have established their own territory which usually happens by three or four years of age.  Gestation period is around seven months with only one offspring being born.  Weight at birth is 6 pounds.  Gerenuk can live for thirteen years in captivity, but their lifespan in the wild is more like eight years.  The gerenuk is considered low risk species by the IUCN.

The proper rifle for hunting gerenuk in Africa is the same rifle you would use for other plains game.  Anything in the .270-.300 caliber range will do the job.  Good optics are important as the gerenuk has excellent sight and hearing, and will be hard to approach closely.  Shots can be over 170 yards.  Use a bullet like the Nosler Partition or Barnes Triple Shock.  One of the .25s would be perfect for a 100 pound gerenuk.  Use the 25-06, .257 Roberts, or .257 Weatherby for long shots.

When hunting gerenuk in Africa, shot placement is going to be a bit hard to set up.  Because of the long legs and neck, the animal can look bigger than it is.  It has a fairly thin torso, so side, or right angle shots have to be thought out a bit.  Divide the animal in half horizontally; and in half again.  Then picture a vertical line running up the back of the foreleg.  Where the vertical line touches the lowest horizontal line is the heart.  If the shot is a bit off, the lungs will be hit.