Dangerous Game Hunting Safaris in Zambia

Cape Buffalo Hunt in Zambia

Rifle – Bow – Crossbow 1x1 Only $9,500

2023 / 2024
This is an affordable hunt in Zambia for a trophy Cape buffalo bull. You will hunt a private reserve with one of Zambia's top outfitters. You will have the chance to collect some rare species such as puku, kafue lechwe, sable and Crayshaw's Defassa waterbuck. You will stay in a 3-star lodge deep in the Zambian bush while enjoying a high level of comfort.

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Hunting Dangerous Game in Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in south-central Africa.  Its neighbors are Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north; Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south, and Angola in the west.  Most of its population is concentrated around its capital Lusaka, and the Copperbelt Province in the northwest. 

Zambia is a bit larger than the state of Texas at 290,587 square miles.  It was previously known as Northern Rhodesia and has been a hunting destination for over 30 years.  Its land is quite diverse with every type of terrain from forested river valleys to the Kalahari Desert.  Zambia is one of the best countries in Africa for hunting dangerous game such as lion, leopard, elephant, hippo, Cape buffalo and crocodile.  The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) manages and conserves the wildlife estates that cover 31% of the country’s land mass.  It was established in 1998 to promote integrated approaches to wildlife resource management.  Zambia has 27 game management areas (GMA) and 19 national parks. 

Hunting dangerous game in Zambia is divided into three types of licenses; the Classic Safari, the Mini Safari, and the Special Safari.  The Classic Safari has a minimum duration of 14 days.  Animals on license are lion, leopard, buffalo and other dangerous game species.  The Mini Safari is limited to a maximum of five animals, but the high value animals such as lion, leopard, and sable are excluded.  The Special safari allows hunting for specific species.

Most of Zambia is very sparsely populated.  This makes for ideal conditions for game animals.  One of the best areas for lion, leopard and big buffalo is the Luangwa River Valley.  This valley lies at the tail end of the Great Rift Valley that runs from the Red Sea down the length of East Africa.  In 1973, the elephant population was estimated to be in excess of 100,000, but poaching reduced their numbers.  Recent anti-poaching measures have seen the numbers stabilize at slightly over 20,000.  The Kafue National Park and the surrounding GMAs are noted for their large population of full-maned lions. 

Elephant Hunting in Zambia

Elephant hunting had been closed for 20 years until it reopened in 2005.  Heavy poaching in the 1970s and 1980s reduced the population to unsustainable levels.  However, today the population has recovered and hunters report seeing a number of good bulls during their safaris.  Zambia recently started allowing elephant hunts in the Luangwa Valley and the lower Zambezi Valley.

Elephant hunting is done mostly on foot, following fresh spoor or tracks until the animal is sighted.  The safari truck is used only to drive to the elephant area.  The PH will observe the elephant to see if it’s of trophy quality.  Sometimes hunting an elephant in Zambia involves hours of walking, only to find a large elephant with small tusks.  In most cases, an elephant hunt is a battle of endurance, but the rewards at the end are well worth the effort.

Shooting will be up close and personal – often within 30 yards, or less.  Normally a brain shot is preferred, or if that isn’t possible, a heart shot can be taken.  Heavy rifles with calibers in the 40 and up range are preferred.  Any rifle in the .416 to.458 caliber, with a solid heavy bullet will anchor an elephant.  Large – over .40 caliber, whether in a double rifle, or bolt action, would be more useful if things get exciting. 

Lion Hunting in Zambia

Prime concessions in Zambia yield large-bodied, black-maned lion for the hunter who is willing to invest the necessary patience and determination.  To the hunter, the ultimate trophy is a large black-maned lion.  Lions whose habitat is primarily open savanna or desert will have a thicker mane than a lion living in the bush.  It’s entirely possible to see a very large lion with little, or no mane. 

Lion hunting in Zambia was closed for three years due to a concern about their age when hunted.  Hunting reopened in 2017, and this means that the lions on license will be significantly older, and the hunter stands a very good chance of getting an excellent trophy.  According to the Professional Hunters Association of Zambia, “Zambia has always had very good populations of lion and they always considered that they managed the lion populations very well”.

One of the better lion hunting areas in Zambia is the Luangwa Valley, an area of Africa which produces some of the best dangerous game hunting in all of Africa.

Leopard Hunting in Zambia

Pound for pound, the African leopard is the most dangerous animal in the world when wounded.  They are solitary animals and control and patrol a large area.  Leopards are largely a nocturnal animal and hunt a wide variety of prey ranging from medium plains game down to mice and voles.  Leopards are hard to hunt without baiting or dogs.  In Zambia leopards are hunted from blinds over bait.  They can be found almost anywhere in Zambia.  The client hunts an animal, such as zebra, for bait, then it’s hung in a tree on a branch high enough that the hyenas can’t reach it.  Usually, if there is a leopard in the area, it will feed on the bait within four to five days.

With leopard, trophy judgement isn’t based so much on size as to whether or not the animal is a mature male.  Usually your PH can tell by checking the head, neck and body size.  Any medium caliber rifle in the .30 caliber and up range is more than sufficient for hunting a leopard.  What is more important – actually supremely important – is shot placement.  A wounded leopard is an extremely dangerous animal, as more than one scarred PH can attest.  Following the blood trail of a wounded leopard into the bush at night is not for the weak of heart. 

Cape Buffalo Hunting in Zambia

These cattle-like animals have massive low-sweeping horns that make for a very good trophy.  They congregate in herds that can number over 500 animals.  There are large herds in the Kafue and Luangwa National Parks.  Also, Dendro Park Reserve in the Southern Province adjacent to the world-famous Kafue National Park offers excellent Cape buffalo hunting.  The success ratio on trophy bulls runs close to 100% there.  The older males are solitary and get the nickname “dugga boys” from the mud they roll around in to rid their hides of parasites.  These buffalo are past their breeding age and can be quite dangerous if wounded. 

Buffalo are generally hunted on foot, locating and following tracks from waterholes or crossingroads.  The best shot for buffalo is the heart/lung shot.  Aim just behind the front leg, and one third up the body.  Buffalo are thick skinned animals and the minimum safe caliber is the .375.  The .416s and .458s are a better choice for buffalo, as they have a lot more stopping power than the .375s.  The story has been told many times of the hunter hitting a Cape buffalo through the heart, or in the lungs, only to watch the animal run off.  When the buffalo goes down for the last time, he will give a characteristic bellow, but always pay the insurance shot.

The sheer menace and presence of these bad-tempered old bulls make for an excellent hunt, and a trophy that will bring back memories of the hunt for many years.

Hippo Hunting in Zambia

Hippos have made the “ten best” list of dangerous killers in Africa for many a year.  For an animal that is a herbivore, they certainly have built a nasty record of eliminating a large number of people.  This is more due to them being very territorial rather than their basic nature.  As with humans (and especially writers) the more years under a hippo’s belt, the crankier they get.  The old bulls have been kicked out of the herd and are usually sporting vicious wounds from fighting with younger bulls for herd dominance. 

Many Zambian hunters will shoot a hippo for bait.  Most are taken while they are in the water, with shots under 50 yards.  It’s a matter of picking a good old bull with large ivory hanging from its mouth, then sneak up on the river bank and let fly.  It’s very important to make a good brain shot, as if the hippo isn’t anchored instantly, it will submerge and disappear, never to be seen again.  Shoot right between the eyes, or between the eye and ear to reach the brain.  The hippo will sink, but then the stomach gasses will expand, and the carcass will float to the surface.

The minimum caliber for hunting hippo in Zambia is the .375.  There’s no real reason for anything larger, because any well-built bullet that will penetrate to the brain will do the job.  There have been many hippos taken with everything from a 7mm to a .300 Magnum.

Crocodile Hunting in Zambia

There are only two shots that are effective in anchoring a large crocodile – either hitting the spinal column right behind the neck or placing a bullet in its tennis ball sized brain.  Any .30 caliber round with a premium soft point bullet of 180-200 grains is more than adequate.  Shot placement is of paramount importance.  The brain-shot croc can bounce, dance, tail walk, and flop around to the point where it flips itself back into the water.  This is a bad thing, as the water is full of its relatives, who are more than happy to have a fresh leg or tail to munch on.  A fast hollow point right in the brain will do enough damage to shut down all functions immediately.  The best shot is one where the crocodile doesn’t move at all; just lays down dead on the bank.

Crocodile hunting in Zambia can be done as a hunting package combo, or on a 7-day minimum hunt.  Move up to a 12-14 day hunt and a Cape buffalo, roan, and hippo can be added.

The deciding factor in a crocodile trophy is overall length.  This takes a lot of experience to judge.  Your PH will be able to advise you as to its shootability.   A good croc is anything 12 feet long or longer.

Equipment For Dangerous Game Hunting in Zambia

If you plan on hunting dangerous game in Zambia, the hunting season runs from the beginning of May to the end of November.  This is the dry season in Zambia.  June and July tend to be mild; with September to the end of the season possibly being very hot. The months from May to the end of October are the prime hunting time in the Luangwa Valley and eastern Zambia.  October has good hunting but is hot.  November can see the onset of the rainy season, which halts all hunting.

The minimum caliber for hunting dangerous game in Zambia is .375.  For the larger animals, a rifle in a .40 caliber is a better choice.  Specifically, the .416 Rigby, .416 Remington Magnum, or the .416 Ruger are excellent choices.  Moving up to the big .450s, either the .458 Winchester Magnum or the .458 Lott will take down any large pachyderm.  Premium ammunition is of major importance.  When hunting dangerous game in Zambia, shot placement and bullet performance will make the difference between a dead animal, or a badly-injured problem. 

A good variable scope, preferably with a red dot illuminator, is highly recommended – especially for low light conditions when hunting cats.

Testimonials

"Talk about dreams being handed to you!!  From John's recommendation to stay at the Afton Guest House to the outfitter he booked me with, I was treated like royalty.   Next year's hunt won't require research past his website.  Thanks John."

David Mabe
Kentucky, USA
September 2016

 

"I spent weeks visiting websites for outfitters in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, comparing pre-made packages and regular fees. In the end, for a 7-day, six animal hunt with my son as an observer/hunter, John Martins had the best price."

Andrew and Garet
Georgia, USA
October, 2014

"The hippo and croc hunt was good to great --  People make the hunt and from the booking agent to the outfitter YOU COULDN'T ask for a better hunt!  Very few hunting ads tell you what you will get and then deliver it with a smile and extras. Both ends are honest and great to deal with."

"John Martins tries his hardest to get you a great price and your animals with honest outfitters!"

Don Soncrant
Lemmon, SD
September 2016