Hunting the Royal Antelope in Africa
The tiny Royal antelope has the distinction of being the smallest African ungulate and ties with the mouse deer for the title of smallest ungulate in the world. It stands 10-12 inches tall and weighs 7-8 pounds - about the size of a rabbit. Because of its diminutive size the local people have given it the nickname “King of Hares”, from which “Royal antelope” was derived. Hunting the Royal antelope in Africa is done in the area from Sierra Leone to Ghana. It is the primary target animal of hunting safaris to Ghana. The Royal Antelope is not hunted in Liberia due to the belief that the killing of a Royal Antelope will bring bad luck upon the hunter.
The upper body is light brown, cinnamon, or russet tending to darker brown on the head and legs. The belly, chest, chin, throat, and inside of the rear legs are white. A brown collar bisects the white area under the throat. The hind legs are longer than the front and the knee joint is up along the back of the belly. This raises the hindquarters and provides a tapering shape to the body. The thin tail tapers to a white tuft. The male has small spiked horns around one inch long.
It is not a herd animal and lives alone or sometimes in pairs. Royal antelope pairs have a very small range. It is reported that their entire territory encompasses less than 100 square yards; establishing boundaries with dung.
The Royal antelope is a forest dwelling animal. Hunting the Royal antelope in Africa occurs in areas with dense undergrowth and can be any type of forest from rain forest to tropical dry forests. Due to population encroachment, Royal antelopes are now seen near human cultivation and along the edge of roads. Because of its diminutive size this antelope is hunted by many predators including snakes. It is a very shy, nocturnal antelope. Typically it walks with a high stepping gait. If scared or disturbed its long hind legs can propel it up to eight feet from a standstill. Usually, if threatened, it will crouch down under heavy cover until the threat is virtually on top of it before it flees. It can leap into heavy brush, twisting and turning until it disappears.
Hunting the Royal antelope in is normally done with a shotgun due to the dense cover that they are hunted in. If a rifle is used, it should be loaded with solids, or be a small caliber rimfire such as a .22. A telescopic sight in the 3-9 power range with good light gathering abilities is highly recommended.
Hunting the Royal antelope in Africa is best accomplished by the use of flashlights or spotlights after dark. The best areas to hunt would be along the verge of roads as the antelope moves from the forest to feed on cultivated land. If night hunting is not allowed, then early morning just at first shooting light, or evening just before sunset would be the best time. Luck plays an important part in a successful Royal antelope hunt. Usually the hunter is looking for a different animal when a Royal antelope is spotted. Due to the animal’s tendency to duck and hold, there will be a bit of time to take a shot, but if it spots or smells the hunter, it will disappear instantly.
- Scientific name - Neotragus pygmaeus
- Weight - normally under eight pounds
- Life span - 3-5 years
- Diet - leaves, fruit and peanuts
- Litter size - typically one young per litter
- Sexual maturity - after one year
- Threatened by bushmeat hunting