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Kafue lechwe rams

LECHWE - Kobus leche

Lechwe are possibly one of Africa's most handsome animals with their sweeping horns and fuzzy coats. They differ according to region, taking on various color schemes and horn variation.

Lechwe are odd looking antelope as their hind quarters are set higher than the rest of the body resulting in an awkward running motion on dry land, keeping their necks outstretched and their heads low to the ground. 

They are well-adapted to swamp and floodplain living with splayed hooves and they usually feed while partially submerged. Lechwe color varies but is generally a dark reddish brown turning lighter near their bellies while they have black markings running down their front legs which differs according to the subspecies.

Black lechwe - Bangweulu

 

CITES
Red lechwe are listed under Appendix II and require an export permit from the country of origin while kafue & black lechwe are not listed.

 

SCI minimum scores
Kafue Flats Lechwe - 70"
Black Lechwe - 54"
Red Lechwe - 58"

habits
Lechwe live in vast herds along the edges of swamps and rivers, preferring open floodplain habitat to wooded savanna. When pursued they take to water in a seething mass of horns and splashing bodies but are not overly nervous animals and often allow the hunter to approach within shooting distance. On game ranches they have learnt to adapt to heavier cover and they can be extremely elusive once spooked and alert.

hunting tips - the hunt
Hunting lechwe on the open plains is not as easy as it seems as the large number of animals make choosing a decent ram challenging and time consuming. Often the most frustrating part of a hunt is keeping your sights on the selected male whilst you wait for a clear shot. 

Combined with this is the distance factor which is often misleading on the open plains on hot hazy days. However it is very uncommon not to bag the trophy of your choice.

hunting tips - the trophy
A good set of horns will start with thick bases running sideways and upwards, flaring out wide before starting the forward curve. The tips should keep running upwards and outwards and be smooth and shiny.

hunting tips - where
The most commonly hunted lechwe are the subspecies of southern Africa which are:

Kafue Flats lechwe which are endemic to the flats and floodplains of the Kafue River in Zambia. Their horns are longer than other subspecies and sport a wider sweeping outward curve before turning upwards and flaring out. Zambia's north and south Kafue flats are home to these magnificent antelope and a visit to this vast wetland and to see the great numbers of these animals is a top experience on any hunters list.

Black lechwe are found along the edges of the Bangwelu Swamp of Zambia in vast herds which are largely unworried by intruders. Their coats, especially along their neck and front legs is a dark chocolate brown as compared to the orange-red color of the other subspecies (see above photograph). Their horns are not as long and tend to be thinner but good males have a characteristic inward curve near the tips of their horns which is quite distinguishable from the red and Kafue lechwes.

From experience there seems to be 2 types of gene in this lechwe, some with an almost black body and coat with smaller horns and then those with a lighter complexion but longer horns. Seeing that you have gone all the way to Bangweulu to shoot a 'black lechwe' rather go for the blacker type with smaller horns!

Black lechwe at Bangweulu Swamps

Red Lechwe have a wider distribution occurring primarily in Botswana  but are also found in Namibia and Zambia. Their horns are smaller than that of the Kafue lechwe and do not flare out as wide but may sport thicker bases. They are mostly hunted around the floodplains of the Okavango Delta in Botswana where they live more a semi-aquatic life than the others. The red lechwe has been successfully introduced to South Africa where they fare remarkably well away from their swampy habitat.

The Nile lechwe occurs in Sudan and parts of Ethiopia but today is not as easily hunted as the other subspecies.

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