Hunting Exotic Plains Game in Zambia
The history of modern big game hunting in Zambia is fairly recent. Zambia created Game Management Areas (GMA) located around its national parks in the mid-1970s. They total over 62,500 square miles. Hunting is permitted on these, private hunting areas, and conservancies. Most of the hunting land is located in the Luangwa Valley, or in the Kafue plateau region. Other concessions are located in the Bangweulu wetlands, or Kafue area. None are fenced; they are true free-range habitats.
Exotic plains game hunts in Zambia offer one-of-a-kind hunts for animals found nowhere else. Zambia is home to a large variety of exotic antelope such as; the Cookson’s wildebeest – found only in the huge Luangwa Valley, and hills to the east and west of the valley. Also endemic to the Luangwa Valley are the puku, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, and grysbok. The Black lechwe is an antelope found in the Bangweulu wetlands of Zambia. Lechwe are similar to sitatunga in that they have an elongated hoof that supports them on soft ground. The Kafue Flats (locally called Butwa) are situated on the Kafue River in the southern, central, and Lusaka provinces of Zambia, and contain the total population of Kafue lechwe. The Kafue Flats Game Management Area covers over 2300 square miles of the Kafue Flats. This area affords protection to wildlife while still allowing sustainable use of natural resources.
The Kafue Plateau is home to the rare Crawshay’s Defassa waterbuck (sometimes Rhodesian Defassa waterbuck), along with many sable over 45 inches, Zambian sitatunga, yellowback duiker, and puku. Along with these, bushbuck, kudu, Livingston eland, reedbuck hippo, oribi, bushpig, and zebra can be taken when hunting exotic plains game in Zambia.
The best area to hunt Zambian sitatunga is in the Bangweulu swamp where they can be hunted in conjunction with the black lechwe. Bangweulu is Africa’s greatest swamp. It is roughly divided into three main habitats: open water to the northwest, swampland in the center, and seasonal wetlands on the eastern and southern habitats. The swamp is also home to large herds of oribi and tsessebe.
Other animals available to hunt in Zambia include the Bohor reedbuck, common waterbuck, blue wildebeest, Chobe bushbuck, and Sharp’s grysbok. There are a number of game ranches around Lusaka that can be added to your safari if the area you are hunting doesn’t offer the desired animal.
Exotic Plains Game Hunting
Zambian plains game safaris are normally conducted from permanent camps with thatched huts, or tent camps mounted on cement slabs. Travel to the hunting camps begins in the capitol city of Lusaka, or Livingstone near Victoria Falls. Camps can be reached by vehicle, but many hunting camps have their own dirt landing strip, making air charters much more efficient and time saving. There are no set hunting seasons, but most safaris are conducted between May and November. The Zambian government strictly controls the minimum number of days for a hunting safari based on the species being hunted. For instance, hunting of Kafue or black lechwe will incur the addition of two or three days onto a fourteen day hunt when other game, such as buffalo, is hunted.
Hunting is done on foot, with the safari truck only used to get to the hunting area. The land doesn’t have a lot of elevation changes and isn’t particularly rugged, so actual hunting – spot and stalk – is relatively easy.
Zambia is warm all year round. December to April the climate is wet and hot. From May to August temperatures are cooler and the humidity is lower. The months from September through November are hot and dry. Summer temperatures range from 77 degrees to 95 degrees. Winter runs from 43 degrees to 75 degrees.
Bow hunting in Zambia
As of 1993, Zambia legalized bow hunting. The country offers tremendous opportunities for bow hunters. It’s entirely possible that Zambia could be the best place for hunting exotic plains game, leopard, and lion in all of Africa. Zambia has no minimum requirements for bow hunting but using the South African minimums will work.
Big/dangerous game: 80ft/lb. energy – 700 grain arrow
Medium game: 70 ft. /lb. energy – 550 grain arrow
Small game: 40 ft. /lb. energy – 400 grain arrow
Exotic Plains Game Rifle requirements
Zambia does not have a minimum caliber requirement for plains game. A good rule of thumb is minimum .270 caliber; maximum caliber for larger plains game, .300 caliber. If game like a Livingston eland is on license, a hunter would be better served by a caliber in the .375 range.