The Cape Buffalo (Syncerus Caffer)
The Cape Buffalo also referred to as “The Black Death” is the largest of the subspecies in South Africa
Adult bulls stand as high as 1.6m shoulder height and can weigh up to 1900 lbs
The Female is slightly smaller and stands 1.4m shoulder height and weighs up to 1020lbs
Both sexes have horns and the cows reach adulthood between the ages of three to four years
The bulls reach adulthood between the ages of five to six years and the Hardboss starts developing between the age of Three to Five years.
The Cape Buffalo can be found in herds of up to 1000 head and are predominantly found in South Africa particularly in KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga stretching to the Northern parts of South Africa,Botswana,Angola,Zimbabwe,Zambia,Malawi,Mocambique,Tanzania,DRC,Rwanda,Burundi and southern Uganda into Kenya.
There was always a considerable difference of opinion among the African Hunters as to the character of the Cape Buffalo, but all agree that the Cape Buffalo is one, if not the most, dangerous of all African Game. Amongst the Professional Hunters in South Africa there is a saying “It’s not your first Cape Buffalo that kills you” just portraying the respect we as Professional Hunters have for this magnificent animal.
The Roland Ward measurement of the Cape Buffalo is 42”and the SCI measurement is 101
The Cape Buffalo bull can reach a size up to 50” but the most common size Hardboss Bulls being hunted are between 37”to 43”
Hunting the Cape buffalo
The legal minimum caliber for hunting a Cape buffalo is a 375 HH with a 300gr bullet either in a solid or good quality expandable. The recommendations on the Caliber to be used is a widely debatable issue but for the novice Cape buffalo hunter we would recommend to stick to the rule of thumb of No less than a 375HH, there is NO legal maximum Caliber on this species. The most important of all is the preparation prior to the hunt and the shot placement on the day. I have a saying I always tell my clients before a Cape Buffalo hunt and it goes like this “Proper prior preparation prevents poor Performance”
The most important aspect to give attention to as hunter when preparing for a Cape buffalo hunt is to know your rifle and be comfortable with the caliber you shoot. This is a good start in preparing for this hunt and it will help a great deal with the rest of the preparation for the hunt.
Secondly to being comfortable with the rifle are the condition of the rifle. It’s of the utmost importance to ensure that the rifle is in a good working condition and that even the slightest issue on the rifle must be sorted out prior to the hunt. It’s of utmost importance that the ammunition to be used on the hunt has been fired repeatedly and accurately and without any problems from the rifle before the hunt.
This will give the hunter sound of mind on the equipment he is going to use during the hunt.
The rifle efficiency of the hunter is an aspect the hunter needs to practice on a regular basis and once that is mastered the rest of the preparation for the Cape buffalo hunt is mere academic.
I always suggest a simulated charge exercise where the hunter puts up A4 size paper on a target stand.
Place the first stand at 40yrds the second target at 20yrds and the last target at 10yrds.
All three targets should be visible from the shooting position and should be facing the shooter
On a time keeping device with the rifle cocked and on safe the hunter must pick up the rifle from the midsection of his body and remove the safety hatch. The first shot must be taken at the 40yrs target and then without lowering the gun from the shoulder the shooter should reload the rifle and take the second shot at the second target again without lowering the rifle the rifle should be reloaded and a third shot should be taken at the 10yrs target. This should all be done within 10 seconds and all three A4 targets must be hit.
If the hunter can do this exercise within the required time frame the hunter should be well prepared for the Cape buffalo hunt.
We suggest this exercise in preparation for the Cape buffalo hunt due to the fact that the Cape buffalo is very unpredictable and is deemed deadly dangerous when wounded. In 2016 a study was conducted where the likelihood of a Cape buffalo retaliating when being hunted is 80/400 and the chance of a charge is at 100/400 when pursued and cornered. The danger factor and possibility of injury from following a wounded buffalo into heavy cover is 380/400. The Cape buffalo was awarded the most dangerous animal on the list of most dangerous animals in 2016.
How to hunt the Cape Buffalo
There are many ways to hunt the Cape buffalo. At Zembe Safaris we do not hunt buffalo from a vehicle.
A typical day we would start the buffalo hunt early in the morning to allow for ample time to complete the hunt
We will use the vehicle to look for tracks and signs of buffalo at feeding spots and waterholes. We will also scout open plains areas from a hillside to look for buffalo. When the tracks are found or the buffalo is spotted we will disembark from the vehicle and track the buffalo by means of walk and stalk.
At midday when no signs or buffalo was spotted a light lunch will be enjoyed in the African bush. By a light lunch I refer to a sandwich and bottled water. After a half an hour rest the hunt would continue
During stalking the buffalo we also look at sounds and signs from nature giving us valuable information on the position of the herd or the bull
We would typically look for the Oxpecker bird which is known to have a very good relationship with Cape buffalo. Signs of the Oxpecker bird will be a clear indication of buffalo presence
When stalking the buffalo the rifle must be loaded and the safety latch should be on safe, the PH or guide should have a rifle in the same loaded state as the hunter.
NEVER fiddle or play with the safety pin as to avoid unnecessary accidents, I always say the human with the rifle is more dangerous than the animal being hunted. Adhere to gun safety always!
When aiming at the buffalo remain calm and collective. Make sure the first shot counts and then all is easier from thereon. Never rush the shot and only shoot when a clear and open shot is available.
Some sound advice for first time Cape buffalo hunters would be
- Never hunt buffalo on your own, always have a backup shooter close by
- Ensure the caliber of the rifle is NOT under 375HH caliber
- When the buffalo is wounded and retreats into thick cover always give the follow up
half an hour. Listen for the death bellow which indicates a downed bull
- Never approach a downed buffalo bull from the front, always try and approach from the rear
- Always give the animal a backup shot even if the animal appears to be dead. Never rely on just the one shot
- Give attention to the time of day the hunt takes place. When hunting the Buffalo too late in the day the hunter has very little room for error and if the Buffalo is wounded most likely the hunter will not have enough time to do a proper follow up on the wounded animal. It is not advisable to follow up on a wounded buffalo during low light or night conditions.
- Avoid frontal chest shots due to the complex nature of the chest construction of the Buffalo
- It’s advisable to have the first round of ammunition a soft expandable round for optimal damage to the target area and the second shot when following up a solid round for optimal penetration.
- When taking the first shot aim for the vitals area of the buffalo
- Do not take risky long shots, try and get within 50yrds of the Buffalo
- Always hunt with a rifle that the hunter is comfortable and efficient with
What to bring on a Cape buffalo hunt
Always bring a rifle NOT less than a 375 Caliber. Bring Ammunition that is tested in the rifle NOT less than 300gr Solid and expandable ammunition, 40 rounds is ample. Less is needed but with more the rifle can be re sighted once in South Africa after the journey.
Refer to list of what to bring on website…..
Hunting the Bush pig ( Potamochoerus larvatus)
The Bush pig is a wild pig that is native to the forests and savannahs of Africa and Madagascar
The Bush pig is a member of the pig family and lives in woodlands, riverines, vegestation and reedbeds in East and Southern Africa and can weigh up to 69kg and reach a height of 900mm as an adult
The Bush pig is a strong, stocky pig with powerful forequarters. Its upper tusks are barely visible, but the lower tusks are razor sharp and grow to 7 cm in length.
The Bush pig is well known and respected for its aggressive nature especially when cornered or being hunted. There are numerous cases documented where the Bush pig has attacked the hunter before the shot was taken.
Bush pig is most commonly found in the Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and the Northern Province of South Africa
The main predator of the bush pig are Leopard and Man
As a family group the young are raised by the dominant bore and the pig lets are kicked out from the group after six months by the dominant pair.
There is a number of ways to hunt the Bush pig.
The most common method is to hunt them at a feed spot at night from a blind or enclosure
The other method being used is to hunt them with a specially trained pack of dogs
The most suitable caliber gun would be any .30 cal rifle with expandable bullets
This is a very exciting hunt and a must do when in South Africa
Refer to fire arm export procedure on website
Refer to medical travel insurance
Refer to credit card use in SA on website.
Species as per pricelist can be added onto this package
The duration of the package can be extended at a day fee of $350 per hunter per day
Non Hunters can accompany the hunter at a day rate of $400 per observer per day