When we think about Hunting Dangerous Game in Africa, the imagination quickly brings back images of open top 4×4 Land Rovers bouncing across the Savannah, scattering large herds of grazing animals like buffalo, zebra, springbok and other assorted antelope. Or perhaps pushing through four feet tall grass, so close to the lion you are stalking that you can literally smell him, not knowing in which direction you should be pointing your hunting rifle. Adventures like these have filled the imaginations of young boys and the dreams of grown men for many generations.
The History of Hunting Dangerous Game in Africa
When looking back at the history of hunting dangerous game in Africa and the adventures of the men of times gone by, no great adventure stands out more prominently than the “Hunting Safari”. The stories of the golden era of the safari are readily available from authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ruark, and even Theodore Roosevelt has written volumes on the subject. From within the pages of these literary masterpieces sprout stories of man-eating lions, elephants chasing fleeing Land Rovers, hippos attacking river canoes and so much more. Through these tails, whether fiction or fact, we are offered a glimpse of the lives of the men and the adventures they experienced in a world that most of us will never see, a world of open Savannah as far as the eye can see.
Hunting Dangerous Game found in South Africa
The Buffalo, together with the lion, leopard and the elephant, all compete for the honour of being the most dangerous of all animals to hunt in Africa. Most say that the Buffalo is the most dangerous because if not killed with the first shot, you will need a very experienced hunter and some sharp shooting skills, however luck may still be the deciding factor. If that’s not available, then don’t even start the hunt! Buffalo are more common along the warmer Bushveld and Lowveld areas, especially the northern and eastern borderlines of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, as well as in the north-eastern areas of Natal.
Photo taken by John McAdams – www.biggamehuntingadventures.com
Hunting the Buffalo
Over the years, many a pursuing hunters have had a sudden breaking of branches as their final sounds ever heard. The buffalo knows how to turn the tables on a hunter quickly, you may be too slow and too late to realize, that you are indeed the one being hunted! When wounded, the Buffalo will “vanish” among the hundreds of other buffalo in a massive herd, or take a well covered hiding spot to ambush you from. A buffalo might even have its revenge hours and hours after the first shot. The gore from a buffalo is almost always fatal. They will not stop unless the final shot is dead centre into the brain itself, let alone in time and from the necessary rifle calibre.
The Elephant’s place in African wildlife is guaranteed thanks to its large size, this massive animal can pull down a big tree by mere force and can eat up to 300 kg of leaves and plants a day and drink up to 315 litres of water. The elephant truly is in a class of its own, a highly intelligent and very social animal, very supportive towards one another and by nature, they take care of their weak and small ones in a way that isn’t seen in other mammals. Elephants that have run into difficulty may lean on the others, if a large number of lions threaten them, the biggest ones will form a line of defense around the smaller ones.
Found in warmer areas, such as the north and north eastern parts of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, the unchallenged king of them all, the great African Lion, is the highlight of any true African Safari. The lions brute roar will fill an evening around the campfire with fear and have people quickly checking the fences for any sign of the hunter. The most beautiful full-grown male is spectacular in any man’s language…on the hunt the lionesses take initiative for this terrible, and at the same time awesome, event that takes place every few days in a pride’s feeding routine. A pride of lions may consist of up to thirty animals, and this corporate nature of a pack of lions are best illustrated in their hunting tactics, moving in a well synchronized manner when preparing for their midnight meals.
The Leopard is one of the most praised “Big 5” in our Hunting Dangerous Game in Africa list, this cat may be more than you’d ever expect to encounter, being an animal of the night, it sometimes surprises the tourists by showing their muscular bodies in the day time. A very strong predator, one of the few able to move it’s prey, which can exceed it’s own body weight, high up in a tree. This animal has learned to survive where others became extinct in a vast area of the South African wilderness. In spite of it’s beautiful and brilliant camouflaging coat, which has made them a prized trophy, the leopard’s numbers is still fairly high. Once wounded, the leopard turns into the most dangerous and unpredictable beast that anyone can encounter. It has on more than one occasion, ambushed and killed very well equipped, professional hunters. Many of them, just because of their professionalism, would not take on such a wonderful creature.
The Black Rhino
The Black Rhino has a round mouth or a “hook lip” while his cousin, the White Rhino, has a square mouth and is bigger in size. The Black Rhino’s eyesight is as bad as its temper, but his rounded, superbly receptive ears and a good sense of smell make up for what he may be lacking in sight. His temper and nerve let it seem as if he slept in the thorn bushes last night. The Black Rhino may seem quite timid and slow, but don’t mess with him, if provoked, his ill tempered will quickly show with a new path of broken bush in a dangerous charge, ending in fierce snorting as if to say they’re ready for more action. The Black Rhino’s horn can reach almost 50 inches so tourists are well advised to keep a safe distance.
The White Rhino
The White Rhino is much more relaxed, this “prehistoric” figure is, in it’s own right, a massive animal. The square lipped White Rhino, along with the hippopotamus, is next in line of size in the mammal world after the elephant. Although it shares the bad eyesight and receptive hearing with the black rhino, it doesn’t share its bad temper. Seeing this rhino run is a brilliant, almost “slow motion” feast for the eye. It’s awkward horns can grow over 60 inches, but this is also, in many instances,the sought-after item which illegal hunters try to obtain. Tourists can dare to come a little closer to this magnificent animal without having as much to fear. Found in the Kruger National Park and some surrounding parks, at game parks in the northeastern area of KwaZulu-Natal, at some game farms in the North West Province, in more and more game farms in the Northern Province.
The Hippopotamus has lower tusks that can reach well above 150 cm and is well underestimated as a dangerous competitor. Some even say that it is the animal in Africa that kills the most people. It usually happens if someone is using his way through the bush when it returns to the safety of the waterhole. It is still disputed if the white rhino really weighs more than this enormous mammal, probably because both species are fairly difficult to encounter, let alone weigh! It can cover a very long distance by night and eats massive quantities of grass. In daytime, a hippo won’t wander far from the waterholes at all. In rivers, some small boats and canoes have been flipped over by a hippo on his way to a breath of air, or when there are small hippos around. A running hippo is said to reach up to 30 kilometers/h. Extreme and fierce fighting occurs between bulls and they injure one another very heavily. A big hippopotamus won’t fear many animals, except, in very rare circumstances, the lion. But smaller hippos may fall prey to the lions and crocodiles.
Crocodiles are believed to reach up to 100 years of age! The crocodile will almost certainly be seen near a river or riverbed, although they migrate on land if a river runs dry. It always swallows its food above the surface of the water. It will ambush an unsuspected animal while the latter is drinking water. By drifting nearer almost without notice as only the eyes and the nose may be seen above the water as it comes closer to its prey. It can keep its nose under water for up to 15 minutes. Then, like lightning, it will strike by grabbing the nose or foot of the victim. It directly returns to the water, where their strong tail will keep the crocodile swimming while the poor victim won’t have any defense left. But be aware, crocodiles do catch its prey sometimes at land as well! It can’t run far at high speeds, but is incredibly fast over a very short distance.