The eighteen different conservancies in the Savi private conservancy all have good hunting opportunities. Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is good for hunting, bass fishing and animal safaris. Gonarezhou National Park is famous for the hunting of its extremely aggressive elephants. These elephants are aggressive because of poaching and this behaviour has been taught to the baby elephants who are also aggressive and will chase hunters. Hunting elephant in Gonarezhou is more dangerous and full of adventure. The elephants in the northern area and western hunting areas of Hwange, Ma na Pools and the Zambezi Valley are more approachable.
The mentality of the animals depends on whether the area that they are in has high levels of hunting and poaching. The hunting safari areas have more hunting and this means that the animals are more aggressive and wary of humans. Also Zimbabwe has less mass tourism like Kenya and South Africa and this means that the animals are more wary of humans so this makes the hunting more adventuresome.
Lions are especially dangerous in the early morning, night and the late evening and this behaviour does not change in any part of the country.
Rifa Safari Area will soon become a non-hunting area.
Campfire areas are in areas where local Zimbabweans have their homes. There are agreements with the hunting operators to hunt the animals. In exchange the local people get some of the trophy fees and the meat of the killed animals.
National Parks are unfenced areas of land that are used to protect animals. No hunting is permitted in these parks. These areas are owned by the government but operated as a parastatal.
Safari areas belong to National Parks and are on the borders of the parks. There are no fences between safari areas and National Parks. In these areas hunting is permitted.
Private conservancies are fenced areas of land that are privately owned. They are very well operated and allow hunting and photographic safaris.
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Bubiyani Conservancy and the Savi Conservancy have all got good numbers of the big five. Rhino cannot be hunted in Zimbabwe and only in South Africa can this be done. These areas are good for hunting of the big five for two reasons:
1. They each have good anti-poaching units
2. There are privately owned and have better management than National Parks or Campfire areas.
The Gache Gachce Campfire area on the eastern part of Lake Kariba is also good for the hunting of the big five as well as the hunting of crocodile and hippo. Campfire areas do have villages of local Zimbabweans so hunters will be likely to see the local people. This also allows the hunter to interact with the local people and experience the local culture.
National Parks of Zimbabwe will give individual hunting operators a quota for each animal that can be legally hunted. The hunting operator will then do a pre-hunt form based on what animals the client wants and this is submitted to National Parks for approval. This process applies to private conservancies, private ranches, safari areas and Campfire areas.
Some operators and professional hunters will apply for twice the number of animals than what the client has asked for in the rare event that an animal is shot but the body is not discovered. The professional hunter will then offer the client the choice of paying for the second animal.
If an animal is shot but the body is not found on the day but is found later after the client leaves, the trophy is still legally the ownership of the client up until 14 days after his/her day of departure from Zimbabwe.
Professional hunters will either have a full or a restricted licences. Restricted licences means that the professional hunter is limited to what he or she can hunt with a client.
National Parks regulate the age that a lion can be hunted at, normally 5 years or older. The professional hunter is responsible for deciding the age of a hunted lion. This is very difficult as the age of a lion can only be determined by a close examination of the colour of the nose and condition of the teeth. Photos of the shot lion need to be done and posted to National Parks. National Parks will determine the age of the lion based on the hunt and if the age is too young then the professional hunter will be given a big monetary penalty. This is to prevent the hunting of young lions.
The type of firearms that can be imported into Zimbabwe depends on the kind of animal that will be hunted. Profesional hunters would advise to import a .375 bolt-action rifle as this will allow the hunting of any animal. For shooting of birds a shotgun will need to be imported. If a client is buying a new gun, he/she should familiarise with this rifle to see if the recoil can be handled. This will avoid problems with bruising around the eye from the scope which can affect the hunt as the client will flinch when pulling the trigger and this will affect the accuracy of the gun shot. Big recoil is a common with heavier calibre rifles.
It is advised that clients bring heavier weighted bullets with heavier calibre rifles if they want to hunt bigger animals. With this equipment there is less chance of sticks, stones or branches, which are not always seen in the scope of the rifle, deflecting the bullet.
Zimbabwe is one of the easiest countries to import rifles temporary into the country as it only requires that an application form be done and submitted to National Parks. The gun will need to be transported in a secure gun case. It is advisable to transport your ammunition and the bolt of the rifle separately to the rifle. There have been rare cases of the bolt of the rifle been stolen in some airports in Africa during transits. The other option is to rent a rifle from the professional hunting or hunting operator.
Any automatic or semi-automatic rifle is illegal in Zimbabwe.
It is advised that bullets be bought outside of the country as it can be very difficult to find the bullets in Zimbabwe or very expensive. It is also advisable to consult your chosen professional hunter on what kind of bullets to buy depending on what animal will be hunted. Most professional hunters will advise bringing the same weight of bullet and a combination of expanding bullets and solids. The kinds of bullets will also depend on what kind of rifle they will be used in. 450 or 500 bullets are the most preferred for the bigger animals with smaller bullets for the smaller animals.
Most professional hunters will advise against importing a handgun into the country unless the client has specifically requested to use it in a hunt and he/she has experience with it. Handguns are also an unnecessary weight on the client when hunting and even a slight deviation in the angle of the gun whilst been aimed will result in a very different direction of the bullet and potentially shooting an animal that cannot be shot by law. Some professional hunters will carry a handgun as additional security if there is a close encounter with a dangerous animal.
Cawston Ranch near Bulaway is a very good place to hunt a wide range of birds. Cawston Ranch and other hunting areas have a quota for birds but this kind of hunting is not very well known and so the chances of a quota not being available are very low.
Yes. This is a very difficult animal to hunt as the amount of feathers makes it difficult to know where to aim for the heart or lungs. It is not ideal to aim for the head as this ruins the head.
A 270 or a 308 will be fine for this animal. Use smaller bullets. The ostrich can be hunted with a shotgun. This is dangerous as the client will need to be close to the bird and ostriches are well known for attacking humans.
The skin can be used to make very expensive shoes and bags. The meat can be dried with salt to make very tasty dried meat.
Bowhunting is legal in Zimbabwe. There needs to be a video of the hunt and like with normal hunting there needs to be a National Parks officer on the hunt to ensure that the correct hunting protocol is observed. Bowhunting is not allowed in National Parks and can only be done in Campfire areas and private conservancies.
Also hunting with a bow requires that the hunter and client are very close to the animal as the bow makes a noise when the arrow is released and this gives an animal a second to move and the arrow can hit the wrong body part.
A special permit needs to be issued for bowhunting to be done. The bow needs a draw weight of at least 100 pounds and the arrows need to be 780 gram, 2 blade broadhead. These kinds of arrows and bows are especially important for the hunting of buffalo becuase the buffalo has a thick rib cage that overlaps. So aiming for the hearts or lungs requires a very strong bow.
Bow hunting is less common in Zimbabwe and some hunters do not have experience with it. It will be hard to find replacement bows and arrows that are suited for hunting with a bow.
It is possible to buy a traditional African bow, very similar to an English longbow, that is fully functional but may not be used in a hunt. It is solely for tourist interest.
There is one bow group in the capital city of Harare who practice on a Saturday afternoon.
For National Parks the offical time for hunting is the 1st of March to the 1st of November. This is because the rainy season is from the middle of November to the end of January.
In the rainy seasons the grass grows very thick, the animals will disperse away from the main rivers and lakes and the roads become very muddy. This makes hunting and driving very difficult.
The private conservancies generally allow hunting throughout the year.
This depends on a number of things:
1. The level of health, age and fitness of the client. Some professional hunters will observe the colour of the urine of the client to make sure that the he/she does not have dehydration problems.
2. The summer season from September to February is very hot. Hunting doesn’t normally happen between 11am and 4pm.
3. The kind of animal that is being hunted. Lions are normally baited, a dead hippo is hung from a tree and the lion approaches with the hunter waiting nearby in a hideout. There will be lots of walking to find the right buffalo or elephant.
A number of tour combinations can be organised.
For travellers who are prepared to pay for domestic flights then a popular combination is to fly into Harare and take a connecting flight to Victoria falls. Two to three days at Victoria falls will allow a traveller to see the famous waterfalls, white water rafting and bungee jumping. The next part of the journey would be to fly from Victoria falls to Kariba and hire a houseboat for 4 nights. After this would be the last stage of the journey to Mana Pools, a World Heritage Site, that is famous for allowing tourists to walk freely amongst the animals without a ranger (this is very rare in Africa).
Clycling tours can be organised in the mountains of the Eastern Highlands where there is less traffic and fantastic views. It is possible to have a connecting flight to Victoria Falls and cycle amongst the animals. Both road and mountain biking can be done. The paved roads that are less used are in decent condition.
As mentioned previously there are places like Mana Pools and Chimanimani National Parks where tourists can hike freely without a ranger in places where very few people will be seen.
A new option is to enjoy a customised combination of Zimbabwe’s ancient monuments, national parks or private conservancies with selected smaller animals for a small hunt. These trips are cheaper and the client can enjoy exploring the rest of the country without spending lots of money on a full hunting safari.
There are numerous varieties of fish in Zimbabwe some of these are: tiger fish, cat fish, trout and bass. These are found in different parts of the country and so there are tours that let tourists enjoy both the mountains and safari areas whilst fishing. These tours will be done under experienced guides.
Ten-day survival camps are run under experienced survival experts who were trained to survive in nature for months. One of these experts rewrote the survival courses for the USA Marines Participants will only have a knife and shorts. The ratio is six people to one survival experts. Each camp is unique depending on the season and the area in the private conservancies that the camps are done in. Skills like learning how to make traps, shoes, hats and which plants can be used for medicine will be taught.
These courses are also very important for character building and creative thinking. It is also a good way to lose weight as participants will have to find food from nature without using a rifle.
This is generally not the responsibility of the hunting operator or professional hunter. The cost for using a taxidermist who does the mounting is the responsibility of the client. There are professional taxidermists in Zimbabwe and they will do one of two things to the animal trophy:
1. A full job of the animal trophy (cleaning, sterilising and mounting the trophy of the animal), organise the paperwork needed to send the trophy to the country of the client and organise the shipping.
2. They do a “dip and pack” of the animal trophy. This involves protecting the trophy from going rotten, killing bacteria and preparing it for transport to a taxidermist in the country of the client for a full mounting job.
Some hunting operators will do a dip and pack at an additional cost per animal trophy.
It is advisable to use a taxidermist in Zimbabwe as they do have access to parts required to fix damages to a trophy caused by the bullet or caused in the transporting of the trophy.
If a client wounds but does not kill the animal then the professional hunter will make a decision whether to allow the client to shot the animal again or to kill the animal with his own rifle. This is to avoid the animal from suffering unnecessarily and to ensure that the client gets his/her trophy.
Buffalo are the most hunted animals in Zimbabwe and this means that this animal is the most encountered animals of the big five, which are all very dangerous.
Some professional hunters can speak Spanish or French. The rest will know the keywords need to instruct a client on a hunt or will hire a translator. There are three English words that every professional hunter will have their clients understand that are “do not” and “shoot”. These two words will never be used together as they can cause misunderstandings.
Some private conservancies will allow this but National Parks will only allow hunting during the day time. National Parks considers day to be 30 mins before sunrise and 30 mins after sunset.
National Parks considers night-time hunting to be an ¨unfair chase¨ as the bright lights from cars and torches will freeze most animals. This will make the animals easy to kill. African cats like lions, cheetahs and leopards are not affected by lights. Professional hunters will use red or filtered lights as this doesn’t affect animals.
8X10 is very useful for looking at animals and bird watching. Be very careful of using powerful scopes on a gun as small sticks and stones will be blurred and this can affect the gunshot. Long distance shots with powerful scopes are also not considered proper hunting, as real hunting requires the person to stalk and crawl towards the animal to get very close to it
Bring good walking shoes that have not been purchased recently from the store and have been used for a few months. This is because new shoes will likely cause blisters on the foot and will make tracking the animals very painful.
Camouflaged clothes are banned in Zimbabwe. If a client does wear them then they will be arrested either by police or army.
Green or brown khaki clothing should be worn. Do not bring white or light brown clothing as this will shine in the light and make a person very visible to animals. Also the clothing should be loose. This will avoid sweat sticking to the clothing and make it easier for a person to crawl around on the ground.
If a client has purchased new boots then he or she should soak the boots and walk in the boots until they are dry. This will often make the shoes stretch to the right size of the foot
A professional hunter will do his best to make sure that the wind is coming from the hunted animal to the client. This will prevent the animal from smelling the suncream. It is better to buy water-based suncream as this is less likely to be smelled by the animals in comparison to oil-based suncream. It is very important that clients with lighter skin to use suncream when on a hunt.
Most safari operators will have a food caterer of the camp, generally a woman, who will entertain the partner and help the wife of client with personal medical requests.
Normally one or two clients, the professional hunter, one tracker and another assistant who carries water, food and anything that the clients don’t want to carry like a jersey.
Ideally the gun should be held like a baby in crossed arms with the end being at a 135-degree angle towards the sky. It is not safe to have it balanced on the shoulder as the end will be pointed straight ahead.
These animals are extremely rare as the genetics of these kinds of elephants have been slowly decreased over the years due to hunting and poaching.