Hunting Tsessebe in Africa

Hunting Tsessebe in Africa

The common tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus) is a member of the antelope family found in Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and South Africa.  Adult male tsessebe weigh between 250 and 350 pounds, and stand 46 inches to 54 inches tall at the shoulder.  Females weigh 130 to 270 pounds, and are 45 inches to 52 inches at the shoulder.  Both sexes have horns, and are one of the most difficult animals to sex.  The male’s horns grow to about fifteen inches; females average 12 inches.  When hunting tsessebe in Africa, a hunter needs to rely on the Professional Hunter (PH) to identify the proper animal to harvest..

Tsessebe males use their horns for territory defense and mate attraction, although horn length has not been shown to relate directly to female attraction.  In the wild, tsessebe usually live a maximum of 15 years, however in some areas, their average lifespan is drastically reduced due partly to drought, reduction of habitat, and overhunting for bush meat.

Tsessebe are by nature social animals.  They form herds of six to ten animals with a dominant male as leader.  They associate with zebra, wildebeest, and sometimes ostriches.  After young bulls reach one year of age, they are kicked out of the herd and form bachelor herds with up to 25 males in them.  Several tsessebe activities are somewhat peculiar, among them is a behavior where  a group of males will stand in parallel ranks with their eyes closed, bobbing their heads back and forth.  Scientists have not come up with a good explanation for this behavior.

Tsessebe are primarily grazing herbivores that feed in grasslands, savannas and open plains, but they can be found in rolling hills and at altitudes of 1,500 feet.  They feed in the morning and again after the temperature drops in the afternoon.  They require water on a daily basis, and will travel miles to find it.

Tsessebe breed once per year.  Calves take two to three and one half years to reach sexual maturity.  Gestation lasts seven months.  The rut starts in February and can last until the end of March.  Tsessebe bulls can commonly be found standing on a termite mound during the heat of the day.  The added height aids in locating predators such as lion, leopard, wild dog and spotted hyena.  The added height also aids hunting tsessebe in Africa by making them easier to see.

The tsessebe is Africa’s fastest antelope, able to run at speeds up to fifty miles per hour.  When hunting tsessebe in Africa, there a few specific traits of the animal that will aid the hunter.  When in danger, it will run a short distance, then stop and look around, even if the danger is serious. There’s an old African saying that covers this.  “There is its mistake.  There is your shot.”  Also, tsessebe have an inquisitive nature.  They will stand and look at something unfamiliar rather than run off.  Sometimes this can work for the hunter when hunting tsessebe in Africa. 

Because the tsessebe is mostly found on the African plains, shots may have to be long.  A careful stalk should get the hunter close enough to take a rest and execute a shot.  Tsessebe are wary animals, though, and if they see the hunter approaching, they can just walk away moving just slightly faster than the approaching hunter.  A flat shooting rifle is highly recommended for hunting tsessebe in Africa.  Minimum caliber should be .270.  A better choice for hunting tsessebe in Africa is one of the fast .30 magnums, like the .300 Winchester Magnum, with a 180-grain bullet.  Shot placement when hunting tsessebe in Africa is behind the shoulder and one-third of the way up the body