Hunting in Africa is the thrill of the chase, the stealth and skill of the pursuit, the sharp eye of the marksman.
These have been facets of human nature since the dawn of mankind. Indeed, hunting is one of the oldest traceable human activities on earth. Whether for sport, commerce, or cultural reasons, hunting has been part of mankind’s heritage for millennia.
Our ancient ancestors subsisted on a diet foraged from their environment, including seafood collected from the shore, meat hunted and trapped, and berries and roots gathered from the veld. Evidence from the Pinnacle Point Caves , in South Africa, shows that our forefathers fashioned tools from stone as early as 165 000 years ago. These stone-age hunters manufactured sharp silcrete blade-lets by skilfully chipping away the grey rock with a heavier hammer stone. Our predecessors then used fire to anneal and harden their stone blades. These tools, though rudimentary, were effective for the kill.
Numerous scratched and cut bones found in these prehistoric caves show that the inhabitants relied on hunting a variety of game from the surrounding plains. The bones of dassie, Cape fur seal, black wildebeest, eland, and giant Cape buffalo have been found amongst the sediment. In addition to hunting for their very survival, early humans also incorporated the hunt into artistic and ritual activities. Bushman rock art depicts images of the hunt dating back to 120 000 years, along with San shamen performing the trance dance. In the spirit world, the San medicine men believed they could heal the sick and control the movement of game on the plains. 
This hunter gatherer lifestyle persisted in many parts of the world with the persistence hunt still practised by the Bushmen of the central Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa today. The tracking abilities of this tribe are legendary.  They rely on their phenomenal endurance to run down their prey over hours or even days.  The San, regarded as one of the oldest living tribes on earth, traditionally killed their prey with spears, snares, or small bow and poison-tipped arrows .Many indigenous African tribes relied on hunting to protect their livestock herds, to supplement their diets, and as a symbolic rite of passage. The Maasai of Kenya specialised in hunting lion with long spears; Zulu Impi traditionally used long throwing spears, short stabbing spears, and oxhide shields ; the Samburu employed a heavy club; and the Swazi used a sharp bladed axe. Group hunts were common to many tribes: animals were driven into pits or nets and then slaughtered with spears. Tales of the traditional hunting skills of African warriors persist in the oral traditions of these communities. The traditional Zulu tale of ‘The Cheetah and The Lazy Hunter’ warns trackers to rely only on their own speed, stealth, and tact to kill their quarry. 
With the Dutch arrival in the Cape early in the 16th century, hunting on the African continent took on a very different complexion. Firearms replaced traditional weapons and stealth hunting. The French Huguenots and British followed and the wagon-travelling Voortrekkers spread out tackling larger numbers of game on the African veld. Strips of dried and salted meat, or biltong, became popular as a durable food source among the farming communities and the wagon travelling trekkers. As hunting for trade became popular ivory, rhino horn, feathers, and animal skins became greatly prized.
Big game and sport hunting on the continent began with the entry of European colonists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Missionaries, soldiers, and settlers flocked to the exciting and unexplored landscape. The settlers took advantage of the vast array of unique animals that roamed the region. As the demand for ivory struck, the slaughtering of elephants took on a massive scale. Elephant tusks became prized trophies for the elite. Hunting safaris became a trendy pursuit among the wealthy, particularly in Britain and the United States. Thus the era of the ‘Great White Hunter’ began. 
Professional hunters led ambitious expeditions into the African interior, often at the expense of the local wildlife populations. R.J. Cunninghame famously headed one of the best-publicised African safaris, that of former US president Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt. During his excursion into British East Africa in 1909, more than 11 000 animals fell to the group’s guns and traps . Another revered big game hunter was Frederick Courteney Selous. He was an adventurer and naturalist, collecting and cataloguing virtually every species of African mammal. In 1907 he founded “The Shikar Club”, a big game hunter’s organisation and the first “Safari Club” and Professional Hunter’s Association. 
The white settlers also cleared land for extensive farms at the expense of the local wild game. At the turn of the 20th century, vast herds were driven away or killed to remove threats to the livestock and prevent large herbivores from trampling valuable crops. Settlers were the single most catastrophic force to act on the African animal populations, annihilating a number of species . Meanwhile illegal poaching of elephant and rhino remain at a critical level throughout much of Africa, as the demand for horn continues unabated. In South Africa, 1 215 rhino were killed by poachers countrywide by the end of 2014. 
Today, the practice of game hunting often relies on expensive licences or private concessions. Indeed, many African countries have placed a total ban on wildlife hunting in a bid for ecological preservation. Botswana, for example, enacted a full embargo in early 2014.  Meanwhile, Zambia’s ban on big cat trophy hunting was lifted in 2015. South Africa still carries the most liberal hunting laws on the continent and generates an estimated US$77 million from hunting. Much hunting takes place on private freehold land with quotas set by the private land holder. Conservation measures to protect dwindling wildlife populations are often weighed up against the potential revenue bred from sports hunting.