Hunting Defassa Waterbuck in Africa

Hunting Defassa Waterbuck in Africa

The defassa waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) got its name from the Amharic language.  Modern taxonomists, however, consider the common waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck a single species, given the large number of instances of hybridization between the two.  Interbreeding between the two takes place in the Nairobi National Park in Kenya due to the extensive overlapping of habitats.

The common waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck are remarkably different in their physical appearances.  Measurements indicate greater tail length in the defassa, whereas the common waterbuck stands taller than the defassa.  However, the principal difference between the two types is the white ring of hair surrounding the tail on the rump, which is a hollow circle on the common waterbuck, but covered with white hair on the defassa waterbuck.

The defassa waterbuck is found west of the Gregory Rift that runs from Ethiopia to Mozambique.  Over 60 percent of the defassa waterbuck population thrive in protected areas, most notably in national parks in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Mozambique.  The common waterbuck is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ICUN), while the defassa waterbuck is listed as “Near Threatened” by the same agency.  The population trend for both animals is decreasing, but the defassa waterbuck is being eliminated from its habitat by the relentless hunting of defassa waterbuck in Africa for bush meat, and encroaching human settlement.

Despite its name, the defassa waterbuck is not truly aquatic, nor as much at home in water as the sitatunga or lechwe. It does, however, take refuge there to escape predators hunting them.  It inhabits areas that are close to water in savanna grasslands, forests, and woodlands located in sub-Saharan Africa.  Such areas provide food and a place to hide from lions, leopards and other predators.

The waterbuck’s habitat furnishes them with a year round source of food.  Mainly grazers, they consume course grasses that are seldom eaten by other grazers.  They feed in the morning and after dusk, resting during the day.  They are sedentary antelope and don’t migrate or travel great distances, so territories are held year after year.

Defassa waterbucks stay in heavy cover, so hunting defassa waterbuck in Africa will require walking and stalking in the brush around waterholes, floodplains and rivers.  Often they will freeze and not run until the hunter is within a few yards.  Then, with much crashing and thrashing, the defassa waterbuck will bolt for thicker cover.

The main area for hunting defassa waterbuck in Africa is in Tanzania.  Defassa waterbuck size is hard to judge from a distance.  The best horns have thick bases and are best judged for curve and length from the side.  A well placed shot is essential when hunting defassa waterbuck in Africa, as they are tough animals and if hit wrong, or lightly, can go for days.  When wounded, they can be aggressive, so care is needed when approaching the animal.  A good choice of caliber for hunting defassa waterbuck in Africa is the .375 H&H.  A .300 magnum with 180 grain, or heavier, bullets will do the job, but shot placement is critical with either caliber.