The largest antelope in Africa, the eland is one of the most nervous or skittish animals and take flight at the slightest sign of danger, capable of running for miles without stopping. In southern Africa, three subspecies exist: Cape, Livingstone and East African Eland, all of which are far easier to hunt than the Giant or Lord Derby Eland from central and west Africa.
A big eland bull can easily weigh over 2500lbs, with a large impressive neck and chest which turns grayish blue with age and sports a loose dewlap or wattle. Older bulls generally have shorter thicker worn down horns with wide bases and a characteristic dark tuft of matted hair on the forehead.
Eland are prolific feeders, browsing in the early morning and late afternoon and sometimes through the night. They are usually found in sparsely wooded savannahs with adequate young trees and shrubs. Eland travel great distances for food, often moving with the seasons and blooming of fruits and flowers.
Their senses are excellent and despite their size they are capable of jumping a considerable height. They are herding animals, although bulls frequently form bachelor herds of up to 15 animals.
hunting tips - the hunt
Eland are not aggressive but are strong animals capable of travelling great a distance if wounded poorly. The best shot is the shoulder area, trying to break bone and hit the vitals. Usually their weight counts against them if bone is hit and they will not travel far before lying down. The most heartbreaking part of an Eland hunt are the great big tears which flow from the bulls eyes as they die!
hunting tips - the calibre
Eland are soft-skinned animals so, heavy grained soft-nosed bullets are adequate with a larger plainsgame calibre being the correct choice - 7mm & 300 Magnums and upwards.
hunting tips - the trophy
Younger mature bulls generally have longer horns yet their bases are not always as heavy as the older bulls. A trophy bull's horns are visibly long in proportion to his large body with apparent thick bases and the spiral ridge quite visible. If you glance at the bull and the horns look proportionately small for the body then it is likely to be an old bull with worn down points. As a rule, the larger the body, the older the bull and the shorter the horns will be.
Beware of cows as some of them have extremely long horns but they are noticeably thinner with the spiral ridge being less apparent. Their necks are also very much thinner and easy to identify - it is best to take you time when hunting Eland and when an Eland bull appears you'll know for sure, they are unmistakable in their size.
Above the equator in Central African Republic, Cameroon, Benin, Congo and Sudan you find the Lord Derby OR Central African Giant Eland, much different to their southern cousins with a more prolific neck mane and very much longer horns. As a hunting experience this ranks as one of Africa's most challenging species and is well worth the more expensive price tag.