Big Game Hunting in South Africa

Big Game Hunting in South Africa is why you dream of coming. It's the chance to stalk an animal that until now has only been a picture in a hunting magazine, or something that you've seen in a zoo. Dick Pelc with a good Waterbuck.

It won't seem real, to see hundreds of blue wildebeest thundering across the plains, to see a majestic kudu melt into the bush like a ghost, to hear the maniacal chuckle of a hyena in the darkness. But it is real, you really are in South Africa, and you're on YOUR safari.

There are literally dozens of game animals to hunt under fair chase conditions. From the always dangerous cape buffalo, to the graceful gemsbok, to the tiny duiker, all these animals are a challenge to hunt for different reasons. Are you up to the challenge?

The variety of game animals in South Africa is as wide and varied as the terrain in which they're found. Does the thought of stalking a trophy across a wide, windswept plain stir your blood? Would you rather play "Hide & Seek" in heavy cover? Or is sitting in a hide, watching a cornucopia of game species come to drink at a water hole more to your liking?

It doesn't matter, talk to us at AMS and we can arrange what suits YOU best! Whether it's a custom-tailored safari, or one of our more budget minded Package Hunts, we will work with you to provide you with the hunt of a lifetime.

At AMS we believe that if a hunter knows a bit about an animal that he is hunting, it makes his hunting so much more enjoyed.

You can either read through the whole introduction below, or simply click on the Animals below to learn a little more about them, where they live and how you might hunt them.

Black Wildebeest      Blesbok       Blue Wildebeest     Eland    Gemsbok     Impala     Kudu     Mountain Reedbuck     Waterbuck     Red Hartebeest     Springbok     Steenbok     Warthog     Zebra (Burchell's)     DANGEROUS GAME

A Hunters' introduction to animals that can be hunted in South Africa .

It can be safely said that South Africa offers a bigger variety of hunting than any other country in the world. A hunter planning a first hunt in  Africa is faced with a very great dilemma: Which ones to choose for the first hunt? There are 34 species of antelope alone, three species of zebra, plus the Big 5 and other dangerous game like crocodile, hippo to mention just a few. 

The major facts about some of the animals that are offered for hunting are described in some issues of the Andrew McLaren Safaris Newsletters. Another very good source of knowledge about plains game and other animals that could be hunted in South Africa is:

Southern Africa Animal Kingdom : An Overview

Mammals | Reptiles | Birds | Marine life | Insects and arachnids | Amphibians

Southern Africa is very fortunate to have the largest variety of animals in the world. It is home to more than 800 bird species, 150 mammal species, about 50 snake and lizard species, 11 tortoise species and thousands of invertebrate animals like insects and arachnids.

South Africa is in the fortunate position that it is home to the largest landbased mammal (the elephant), the tallest (the giraffe), the fastest (the cheetah), the smallest ("dwergskeerbek"-mouse), the largest non-flying bird (the ostrich) and the largest flying bird (the kori bustard).


The larger mammals can be divided into three groups: herbivore, carnivore and omnivores.
Elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, buffaloes and elands are the largest herbivores found in the country. The herbivore group with the largest number is the impala Ė the small red buck that is found almost everywhere.
The cat family, dog, hyena, otter and mongoose families all form part of the carnivore group. Almost all carnivores are hunters except for hyenas that are scavengers.
Apes, baboons and the pig family are omnivores with the exception of the warthog. Surprisingly the ugly warthog lives from grass and leaves.


Reptiles are cold blooded, scaly animals. More than 400 reptiles are found in Southern Africa. About 130 snake species occur in Southern Africa but only a tenth is poisonous.

The smallest land tortoise (speckled "padloper") that is only up to 8,5 cm long and the largest land tortoise (mountain tortoise) that weighs up to 40 kg, are both found in Southern Africa.

The well-known "leeurugseatortoise" (the largest tortoise in the world) which weighs up to 600 kg, is found in the coastal areas of Northern-Zululand. It grows up to 2 metres tall and the female lays her eggs on the beaches. They lay up to 1000 eggs in a breading season.


The South African coast is home to a variety of seabirds. Many are indigenous to this part of the world whilst others migrate mainly from Europe to stay here during summer. There are 16 different penguin species living in the southern hemisphere but the Jackass penguin is the only one that lives in the coastal areas of South Africa. They lay their eggs in holes in the ground or under a layer of rock to protect it from the sun.

The largest bird on earth, the ostrich, is found in large numbers in South Africa. It is mainly farmed for its feathers, skin, eggs and cholesterol-free meat. The ostrich is unique, although it can't fly, it runs up to 50km per hour over short distances.

Marine life

Although a fairly large variety of marine life is found around the South African coast, only a limited number of species of fresh water fish (100) occur in South African rivers. This is mainly due to the fact that South Africa is a dry country.
The South African coast is very rich of edible fish types. Some of these are unique to South Africa like snoek, kabbeljou and kingklip.
The Southern Right Whale is the largest mammal in the Southern Hemisphere and breeds around the southern coast of South Africa.

Insects and arachnids

Insects are the most abundant animal species on earth. The are more than a million insect species on earth and more than 100 000 can be found in South Africa. Many insects are useful but they can also be pests.
The praying mantis is one of the interesting insects found in South Africa. For centuries it was a symbol of holiness for the San people - the first people that lived in South Africa.

The Baboon spider is a ground dwelling hairy spider and considered one of the largest spiders in the world. It ranges in size from 2 to 6 cm in body length, but is not poisonous.


Frogs, toads, water salamanders and salamanders form the group of amphibians.
The only type of amphibians that occur in South Africa is frogs and toads.
The smallest frog is the micro-frog, which is only 1,8 mm long and is on the list of endangered species.
Surprisingly the ghost frog is only found on Table Mountain. It lives in the fast flowing streams on the mountain, is very scarce and endangered. The name ghost frog stems from the fact that it is only seen at night.


For the more systematically minded person here is a near complete classification with scientific names.

Southern African Large Land Mammals Game Species

English Africaans Latin Order Suborder Family Subfamily
Aardvark Erdvark Orycteropus afer Tubulidentata   Orycteropodidae  
Baboon, Chacma Kaapse Bobbejaan Papio ursinus Primates Haplorhini Cercopithecinae Cercopithecinae
Baboon, Yellow Geelbobbejaan Papio cynocephalus Primates Haplorhini Cercopithecinae Cercopithecinae
Blesbok Blesbok Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Bontebok Bontebok Damaliscus dorcas dorcas Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Buffalo, African Buffel Syncerus caffer Artiodactyla   Bovidae Bovinae
Buffalo, Water Water Buffel Syncerus bubalus        
Bushbaby, Grant's or Zanzibar Grant se Nagapie Galagoides zanzibaricus Primates Strepsirhini Lorisidae Galaginae
Bushbaby, Thick-tailled or Galago Bosnagaap Otolemur crassicaudatus Primates Strepsirhini Lorisidae Galaginae
Bushbuck Bosbok Tragelaphus scriptus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Bovinae
Bushpig Bosvark Potamochoerus porcus Artiodactyla   Suidae  
Caracal Rooikat Felis caracal Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Cheetah Jagluiperd Acinonyx jabatus Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Civet, African Africaanse Siwet Civettictis civetta Carnivora   Viverridae Viverrinae
Duiker, Blue Blouduiker Philantomba monticola Artiodactyla   Bovidae Cephalophinae
Duiker, Common Gewonne Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia Artiodactyla   Bovidae Cephalophinae
Duiker, Red Rooiduiker Cephalophus natalensis Artiodactyla   Bovidae Cephalophinae
Eland Eland Taurotragus oryx Artiodactyla   Bovidae Bovinae
Elephant, African Afrika-olifant Loxodonta africana Proboscidea   Elephantidae  
Gemsbok / Oryx Gemsbok Oryx gazella Artiodactyla   Bovidae Hippotraginae
Genet, Large-Spotted Rooikolmuskejaatkat Genetta tigrina Carnivora   Viverridae Viverrinae
Genet, Small-Spotted Kleinkolmusejaatkat Genetta genetta Carnivora   Viverridae Viverrinae
Giraffe Kameelperd Giraffa camelopardalis Artiodactyla   Giraffidae  
Hartebeest, Lichtenstein's Lichtenstein se Hartebeest Sigmoceros lichtensteinii Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Hartebeest, Red Rooihartbees Alcelaphus buselaphus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Hippopotamus Seekoei Hippopotamus amphibius Artiodactyla   Hippopotamidae  
Honey Badger Ratel Mellivora capensis Carnivora   Mustelidae Mellivorinae
Hydrax or Rock Dassie Klipdas Procavia capensis Hydracoidea   Procaviidae  
Hydrax or Tree Dassie Boomdas Dendrohyrax arboreus Hydracoidea   Procaviidae  
Hydrax or Yellow-Spotted Rock Dassie Geelkoldas Heterohyrax brucei Hydracoidea   Procaviidae  
Hyena, Brown Strandjut Hyaena brunnea Carnivora   Hyaenidae  
Hyena, Spotted Gevlekte hiŽna Crocuta crocuta Carnivora   Hyaenidae  
Impala Rooibok Aepyceros melampus melampus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Aepycerotinae
Jackal, Black-Backed Rooijakkals Canis mesomelas Carnivora   Canidae  
Jackal, Side-Striped Witkwasjakkals Canis adustus Carnivora   Canidae  
Klipspringer Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Kudu Koedoe Tragelaphus strepsiceros Artiodactyla   Bovidae Bovinae
Leopard Luiperd Panthera pardus Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Lion Leeu Panthera leo Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Mongoose, Banded Gebande Muishond Mungos mungo Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Bushy-Tailed Borstelstertmuishond Bdeogale crassicauda Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Dwarf Dwergmuishond Helogale parvula Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Large Grey or Ichneumon Grootgrymuishond Herpestes ichneumon Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Meller's Meller se Muishond Rhynchogale melleri Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Selous Kleinwitstermuishond Paracynictis selousi Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Slender Swartwasmuishond Galerella sanguinea Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, Water Kommetjiegatmuishond Atilax paludinosus Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Mongoose, White-Tailed Witstertmuishond Ichneumia albicauda Carnivora   Viverridae Herpestinae
Monkey, Vervet Blouaap Cercopithecus aethiops Primates Haplorhini Cercopithecidae  
Nyala Njala Tragelaphus angasii Artiodactyla   Bovidae Bovinae
Oribi Oorbietjie Ourebia ourebi Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Ostrich Volstruis Struthio        
Porcupine, Cape Kaapse Ystervark Hystrix africaeaustralis Rodentia   Hystricidae  
Red Lechwe Rooilechwe Kobus leche Artiodactyla   Bovidae Reduncinae
Reedbuck, Common Rietbok Redunca arundinum Artiodactyla   Bovidae Reduncinae
Reedbuck, Mountain Rooiribbok Redunca fulvorufula Artiodactyla   Bovidae Reduncinae
Rhebuck, Grey Vaalribbok Pelea capreolus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Peleinae
Rhinoceros, Black Swartrenoster Diceros bicornis Perissodactyla   Rhinocerotidae  
Rhinoceros, White Witrenoster Ceratotherium simum Perissodactyla   Rhinocerotidae  
Roan Bastergemsbok Hippotragus equinus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Hippotraginae
Sable Swartwitpens Hippotragus niger Artiodactyla   Bovidae Hippotraginae
Serval Tierboskat Felis serval Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Sharpe's Grysbok Sparpe se Grysbok Raphicerus sharpei Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Springbuck Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Steenbok Steenbok Raphicerus campestris Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Striped Polecat Stinkmuishond Ictonyx striatus Carnivora   Mustelidae Mustelinae
Suni Soenie Neotragus moschatus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Antilopinae
Tsessebe Tsessebe/Basterhartbees Damaliscus lunatus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Warthog Vlakvark Phacochoerus aethiopicus Artiodactyla   Suidae  
Waterbuck Waterbok Kobus ellipsiprymnus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Reduncinae
Weasel, African Slangmuishond Poecilogale albinucha Carnivora   Mustelidae Mustelinae
Wild Cat, African Vaalboskat Felis lybica Carnivora   Felidae Felinae
Wild Dog Wildehond Lycaon pictus Carnivora   Canidae  
Wildebeest, Black Swartwildebees Connochaetes gnou Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Wildebeest, Blue Blouwildebees Connochaetes taurinus Artiodactyla   Bovidae Alcelaphinae
Zebra, Burchell's Bontsebra Equus burchelli Perissodactyla   Equidae  
Zebra, Cape Mountain Kaapse bergsebra Equus zebra Perissodactyla   Equidae  
Zebra, Mountain Hartmann's Hartmann se bergsebra Equus zebra hartmannae Perissodactyla   Equidae