Elephant Hunting

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In theory the Elephant hunting started it all, African hunting that is..... those great recounts of Selous, Burton, the Muirs in Nyasaland, even Livingstone, their travels into the vastness of an uncharted continent after the riches of ivory. They still linger in our memories and provoke that excitement we all feel when we think of Africa, toting a double rifle over your shoulder and taking on a beast the size of a bus!

An Elephant bull with heavy ivory topping 100 pounds is considered by many as the ultimate African trophy and hunters dream of the day they can relive one of Africa's oldest hunting traditions. Despite their size, Elephants are worthy of their status and offer one of the most arduous challenges available today.

Elephant hunting is allowed in African countries where their populations are stable, adequately protected and well managed. Perhaps of all endangered species, African elephants are the least likely to disappear because of what they are - they are the last surviving mega fauna of the world and the biggest threat they face is human encroachment into their habitat, not from trophy hunting.

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Habits

Elephants once roamed the African savannah in their thousands forming vast herds which followed the seasonal migrations. Beginning in the 16th century, they were hunted commercially for their ivory. Their slaughter culminated in the 1980s when their number had been reduced almost by half. Since then, active legislation and a worldwide ivory ban has resulted in a stabilization and increase in the Elephant population in countries with sound conservation policies.

Today the largest problem facing the Elephant is its large appetite and the shortage of habitat mostly due to human encroachment. They are continual feeders, resting during the heat of the day and are destructive to their habitat if confined to certain areas, often destroying hundreds of trees only to browse a few leaves off one branch. Their impact extends to the destruction of the habitat of other species as well thus creating a serious dilemma for conservation.

Elephants live in herds, with a matriarch as the leader. Older bulls break away from the herd and often form small bachelor groups, with younger bulls acting as "askari" for the older males. They travel great distances in search of food, and often follow a seasonal route covering hundreds of miles. They have to drink water every day, often chasing other game away in times of drought although they are often the first to dig for water in dry riverbeds creating pools for other species. 

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The Hunt
Elephant hunting is done mostly on foot by following promising fresh spoor until the animal is sighted. It is then determined if the tusks are of satisfactory trophy size. Usually this type of hunting involves hours of walking only to be disappointed by a large bodied small tusked bull.

Generally older larger bulls will have younger, more alert bulls in attendance and they often raise the alarm or cause problems by always seeming to be in the way of the path to the larger bull. In most cases, an Elephant hunt is a psychological battle of endurance, patience and persistence with many blisters, sunburn and exhaustion.

The shooting part of the hunt is fairly quick, usually a brain shot is recommended at close quarters with heavy grain solids from a large bore caliber. When facing the Elephant a frontal brain shot is aimed at the third or fourth wrinkle below the center of the eyes. With a side shot, aim for the area between the eye and the ear hole or directly in front of the ear hole where the hairy knob juts out. A heart shot is a better bet when it is difficult to get in close to the elephant, placed lower down, directly behind the shoulder.

Cites Permits 
African Elephants are listed  both under Appendix I or II of CITES depending in which part of the continent they occur. At times their listing is rather confusing and is concerned more with actual commercial ivory sales (from legal culls) than with hunting trophies.www.cites.org.More information can be found at the US fish and wildlife website (www.fws.gov) or at the SCI Washington DC website (www.sci-dc.org)

Caliber
The minimum is the .375 Magnum which is a legal requirement in many countries. Most hunters prefer something heavier starting from .416 or .458 Magnum upwards with heavier double rifles being the best choice.

Trophy
Score is taken from the weight of both tusks and they do vary quite considerable. It is not often that a good bull carries evenly matched ivory. Usually older bulls will wear down their favorite tusk digging and stripping bark, much in the same way we are either left or right handed.

A good set of tusks must protrude from the skin flap for at least a meter, usually much more depending upon the thickness. Remember a considerable portion of the tusk is hidden in the skin and skull bone, probably at least a third. The thickest part of the tusk is usually at the lip.

Which country is best suited for your Elephant hunt?

  • What can I afford to spend on my elephant hunt?
  • What do I want out of my elephant hunt? What combination of hunt?
  • Is it the experience or the quality of trophy that matters most?
  • Will I be hunting other plains or dangerous game while I am on my lion elephant?
  • Am I going alone or will there be others joining me on my hunting experience? What expectations do they have? 

The golden rule to hunt big tuskers is to book well in advance!

South Africa:Letaba River Concession

The privately owned consession over looking the Letaba River is fantastic for hunting dangerous game and is for some, the greatest experience on earth. The thrill of stalking an animal that is has equal or superior killing power can ignites a serious adrenaline rush. For your best experience and for quality Elephant (up to 70 pound tuskers), Buffalo (up to 43” Daggaboys), Leopard, Hippo and Croc, this hunting area is incredible. The area does not have a lot of plainsgame and if you are after plains game, this area is not for you.There are no fences between the Kruger and this consession and animals roam free between the park and the hunting concession.  Focussed Elephant hunts are normally 10 days hunts  and you can expect to pay around $40,000 for your trophy fee for a big Tusker between 40 to 70 pounds. Book well in advance - 18 to 24 months to avoid dissapointment. Expect to pay around $30000 for Elephant trophy fees for Elephants with tusks around 40 Pounds. Day fees at the Letaba River camp:  Buff @ $600/day+ 14% government taxes and for Elephant $1500/day + 14% government taxes.  Click for more information

Namibia: Caprivi Concession

This conservancy is approximately 225 square kilometers and the landscape is a mosaic of woodland and grassland, with an average annual rainfall of 600 mm. Bordered by the Kwando River, Mamali National Park on southern border and Mudumu National Park on northern border, the abundance of water in the Caprivi sustains a large variety of animal and bird species.There are no fences, so the elephants roam freely across the borders of the neighboring countries of Botswana and Zambia. You can expect to take a 70+ pound elephant in this region on a 10 day safari provided that you are fit and willing to cover some distance on foot and provided you book the right time of the year. (September October is great. Cost for an elephant hunt in this part of the Caprivi is approcimately $45000 for a 10 day hunt. The area is also great for buffalo, roan, sable, Hippo, Croc and other plainsgame species.Click for more information

Zimbabwe: South Eastern

The Conservancy in South Eastern Zimbabwe is the largest privately owned reserve in Africa. The concession is renowned for magnificent leopard, buffalo and plains game trophies and home to the Big Five.Clients will have exclusive access to 100,000 acres within the unspoilt African Bushveld. The area that has a very healthy and diverse range of species.  Plains game species include:  Zebra, Kudu, Waterbuck, Sable, Eland, Nyala, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Impala, Bushbuck, Warthog, Bush Pig, Duiker, Klipspringer and Baboon, as well as the nocturnal species.Record quality trophies are taken annually. A 18 Day Elephant hunt will cost you around $45,000 and the tusk size that you can expect is up to 50 pounds. We suggest you combine Buffalo and Elephant if at all possible (total Combo hunt will be under $50,000.00).Click for more information

Zambia: Lower Lupande Valley

Elephant hunting re-opened in Zambia during the 2005 season and the Lower Lupande area was one of the very few areas awarded Elephant license.  Most clients harvest 50pound tuskers and up. The largest was an 80 pound tusker taken in 2007.    Total cost for a elephant hunt is $40,000 to $45,000 .  Again, we advise to hunt buff and elephant as a combination.Click for more information

It is also possible to add a 7 day safari to your Elephant hunt that include hunting the Kafue Flats and Bangweulu Swamp area where the following exotic species will be on your quota:  Zambezi Sitatunga, Black Lechwe, Tsessebe, Common Reedbuck, Oribi and Kafue Lechwe. - Guided "1x1" $11,500 p.p.Click for more information

ZIMBABWE: Tjolotsho

 Situated next to the Hwange National park in Western Zimbabwe, this area is great for Elephant hunting. Large tuskers of 50 to 70 pounds. Cost will be approximately $45,000 for an 18 day elephant hunt. Make sure you plan the hunt to be in the area at the right time to harvest the biggest elephants.