Natural occuring game and the geography of southern Africa


New member
Jun 21, 2001
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
There are some things I hear about from time to time that make me wonder how many people actually understand the habitats or regions that the game in Southern Africa actually live in. I hear about folks hunting in various locations in South Africa specifically for animals that are hundreds of miles from their natural or indigenous habitat. The majority of hunters know that the species they are hunting are indigenous to the African continent; however that is about the limit of their game knowledge and geography. To put this another, way Dall sheep are indigenous to the North American continent. They do not occur in Texas though. Javilina are also indigenous to North America but they do not live wild in Alaska.

Hunting a large fenced area for whitetail deer in Texas is a hunt for natural indigenous game. Hunting that same property for blackbuck, eland, or Roosevelt elk is not. The same can be said for many places in the Southern African countries. There are hunts that are very inexpensive where you can shoot about 30 different species of game. Most of these are not in their indigenous or natural habitat though. Americans seem to be naive enough to assume that because you’re hunting in “Africa” for “African game” it must be legitimate. Not so!

Hunting many of the large Eastern Cape properties will allow you to harvest many different species that never occurred there naturally. They are in fact stocked prior to the arrival of the hunters in many cases.

I have no issue with genetic improvement through introductions of indigenous game. These animals are turned loose to breed with other naturally occurring game which are already in existence there. This is the proper way to manage game on any contained property and even in most open free range populations. There have been significant transplants of Mtn goats and bighorn sheep through out the northwest USA over the years to improve genetics and population numbers. The same has happened with wolves and grizzly bears in Idaho and Montana.

It makes no difference to me if a hunter shoots a moose or caribou in Georgia and calls it hunting. It makes no difference if he shoots an eland or dall sheep in Texas and feels it was a hunt. The part I want to make sure people are actually aware of is that just because they have gone to Africa, that does not mean the fallow deer, aoudad or other non-indigenous game was naturally occurring. Speaking only for myself, I would just as well go to an exotic game farm in Texas and save the 17 hour trip over the Atlantic and the big airfare expense!

Why go all the way to Africa to shoot an animal that does not even live natural where you’re hunting? It would be the same as a South African coming to America to shoot a Musk Ox in Nebraska. Then he goes home to tell the story of his wonderful and exciting hunt in “America”.

The most common location for sport hunters to have opportunities to shoot non-indigenous game is out of the Eastern and Western Cape. This tends to be one of the more popular areas for traveling hunters because it’s one of the least expensive locations to operate a hunting concession. It’s also typically the cheapest safari location in South Africa. These ranches or hunting concessions have plenty of stocked game placed there just to be shot. It’s not a location I would even slightly consider for most species or general bag plains game when hunting in South Africa.

There are indigenous species that make sense to hunt there but only very few when compared to other regions of the country. If you are going to fly to Port Elizebeth to meet your outfitter you will very likely be hunt in the Eastern Cape. This is a much different habitat than most of the Stocked game would naturally occur in nature.

As an example I will use a well known Book written by Clive Walker a native South African who is the author of several wildlife books, and an expert on South African wildlife. It is also a strongly suggested study book in the Northern Province PH schools. In his book he has maps showing where the wildlife of South Africa naturally lives.

In the Eastern Cape (as defined by the South African “Book of the road” AA version), here is the typical indigenous species list of game hunted by International sportsman. If what you are hunting is not on this list and it’s being offered by your outfitter it is stocked just for hunting or game viewing. Just because the animal is not indigenous does not mean it’s not a challenge to find and shoot. It just means that you harvested a stocked animal in an un-natural habitat put there for the exclusive reason of being killed by a sportsman. No different then a Texas exotic hunt. I have used the Northern Province, and Kwa Zulu Natal as a comparison of indigenous species so you can see the difference.

Animal--Eastern Cape--Northern Province-&-Natal
Spotted Hyena-----no------------------yes
Brown Hyena-------no------------------yes
Leopard-----------yes----- -----------yes
Cheetah-----------no----- ------------yes
Elephant--------- no----- ------------yes
Lion------------- no----- ------------yes
White Rhino------ no----------------- yes
Burchells Zebra---no------------------yes
Bush pig---------yes------------------yes
Hippo------------no------------------ yes
Giraffe--------- no------------------ yes
Rhebok----- ---yes------------------- yes
Klipspringer----yes------------------ yes
Duiker----- ----yes------------------ yes
Steenbok----- --yes----------------- yes
Blesbok----- --fringe-------------- fringe
Reedbok----- --fringe------------------yes
Mtn reedbuck---- yes------------------yes
Springbok-------- no-------------------no
Impala---------- no------------------- yes
Blue wildebeest----no---------------- yes
Black wildebeest---no------------------no
Tssessebe ----- ---no-------------------yes
Gemsbok -------- no--------------------fringe
Red hartebeest-----no------------------yes
Sable-----------no-------------------- yes
Roan---- ------no------ ---------------yes
Waterbuck ------ no--------------------- yes
Bushbuck----- ----yes------------------ yes
Nyala----- ------no-------------------- yes
Eland------ -----no------------------- yes
Buffalo------ ---no------------------- yes
Kudu----- ------yes-------------------- yes

Total --------13 species ---------32 species

Of these listed only the Grysbok does not occur in the Northern Province, but can be hunted in the Eastern Cape. It's a logical species to be hunted there.

If you truly want to go to Africa and see wild game in natural habitat and experience the whole "African Bush" the choice becomes very clear with minimal research. If you want to go to a place where you can see game taken from it’s natural habitat and placed in a location for game viewing or to be shot then the Eastern Cape as seen by the listing above would be a good choice.

Please do your homework before you book a hunt. You may have a great disappointment with the animals you have harvested from a stocked game farm which is not much different then just booking an exotic hunt in Texas. It’s not just the hunting either, it’s the whole package of game you will see while being there. That is a big part of the experience of being in Africa isn't it? Seeing game in its natural environment, living the way it should.

If you only wish to see the animals themselves then the San Diego Zoo, and Busch gardens in Florida have them and they are much less expensive to see! This Eastern Cape game ranching or stocking situation is one of the reasons RSA has a bad rap for providing high fenced cheap hunts for stocked game.

This is certainly not the case for the whole country or every Province. To be fair Natal and the Northern Provinces have outstanding indigenous hunting for plenty of game as can be seen from Clive Walkers List of indigenous species. For my money the African Experience is only an “Experience” when you are in the bush with natural wild game that should be where you see it, not planted for your viewing or shooting pleasure!

Thanks for bringing this impoortant aspect to focus again.

You and I seem to share the dislike about Outfitters who offer remakably good looking deals - but most of the game their clients are shooting is pre-measured trophy animals recently delivered into an unnatural environment.

The Put-and-Take types of Hunting Outfitters will always be with us, but hunters who want a genuine South African hunting experience should take heed of the advice given and make a careful study of what their Hunting Outfitter offers and which of these animals occur there naturally.

Good luck with your hunting season.

Old Pro.
Thanks guy's...Nut is looking for a good cheap hunt in Africa!!!
Black wildebeest, together with Cape Grysbok, Blesbok and Bontebok are all endemic to South Africa and does not occur anywhere else except as introduced species. It is true that there are good blesbok populations in e.g. Namibia, but they are unnaturally introduced. Might as well hunt one in Texas!
Old Pro.
Ollin Magnetic Digiscoping Systems

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