Hunting Nile Lechwe in Africa

Hunting Nile Lechwe in Africa

The Nile lechwe (Kobus megaceros) is also known as Mrs. Gray’s lechwe or waterbuck.    It is a species of antelope found in Ethiopia and Sudan.  The Nile lechwe is listed as endangered by the IUCN and its population is decreasing.  Some of the causes of its decline are competition with farm animals and changes to its habitat brought about by construction of dams.  If you plan on hunting Nile lechwe in Africa, you will be limited to the flood plains in southern Sudan or far southwestern Ethiopia. 

Male Nile lechwe weigh between 200 and 260 pounds.  They stand 39-41 inches at the shoulder.  The female Nile lechwe is smaller; 130-200 pounds and 31-33 inches at the shoulder.  Their life span is ten to twelve years.  They are herbivores and feed on grass, brush, twigs and fruit.  It’s not uncommon to see them in herds as large as several hundred animals as they are quite gregarious, and prefer safety in numbers.

Nile lechwe travel seasonally to follow the rise and drop of floodwaters.  They will feed on wild rice as the flood season begins and the grains grow.  When the waters recede, the Nile lechwe will then browse the new grasses.  They live next to the flood zone and can wade well and swim in deeper water.  They prefer water that is between 4 inches and 16 inches deep.  According to one estimate there are between 30,000 to 40,000 living on both sides of the White Nile in the al-Sud Swamps in southern Sudan. 

In Ethiopia, the Nile lechwe is mostly found in the Gamble National Park 530 miles west of Addis Ababa.  Its population is not stable due to human interference and hunting and snaring for bushmeat.  Nile lechwe may help reduce the danger of grass fires.  They make a natural firewall by trampling the grass when the herds graze.  Many hunters enjoy hunting the Nile lechwe in Africa because they make a good trophy and the meat can be traded by villagers for other resources. 

Male Nile lechwe communicate with each other by vocalizing and visually communicate by rearing up on their hind legs and turning their head to the side while displaying.  Females make a loud toad-like croaking as they are walking.  Males fight for dominance by lowering their head and pushing against each other with their horns.  The Nile lechwe’s  predators include lions, crocodiles, Cape hunting dogs and humans.  They flee to water if in danger, but females will defend their calves from smaller predators by kicking.

Both sexes reach maturity when they are 24 months old.  Mating is primarily between February and May, but can occur at any time.  The gestation period is between seven to nine months, after which a single calf is born.  The newborn calves weigh around nine to eleven pounds.  The mother hides the newborn in heavy vegetation for up to 21 days.  It is weaned after six months and joins the herd a few months later.

When hunting Nile lechwe in Africa, particularly in Sudan, a special license will be required.  In Ethiopia, only six permits are issued per year, and a special license is required there, too.  Usually hunting Nile lechwe in Africa is done by walking and stalking.  Males have swept back horns, so identifying them when hunting Nile lechwe in Africa is fairly easy.  Horn trophy is judged by length and circumference around the bases.  Any rifle used for plains game will do when hunting Nile lechwe in Africa..  Bullet placement should be just behind the foreleg and one-third up the body.