WATERBUCK - Kobus ellipsiprymnus

classical africa hunting

Another of the classical African antelope, the waterbuck is a highly prized trophy and notable quarry. In some countries they are extremely wary and a streak of aggression is found in all the sub-species. Many old hunters will attest to the fact that a waterbuck should not be taken lightly when wounded.

Waterbuck are not given the respect they deserve and personal opinion amongst experienced professional hunters will confirm that they are dangerous especially when assumed as being timid like many other African antelope.

They are a large shaggy looking antelope and their colour ranges from dark chestnut brown to blackish gray with only the males sporting long ringed horns. They are well known for their strong musky odour from their oily skin and some people believe this may fend off predators. Their smell has saved them from many meat hunters, although careful skinning renders one with pale and tasty venison.

mature bull waterbuck  CITES
No restrictions

SCI minimum scores
Common - 70"
Sing Sing - 68"
East African Defassa - 68"
Crawshay Defassa - 55"



common or ringed waterbuck

Waterbuck form small groups of mostly females and young with a dominant male and are never found far from water. Single bulls and bachelor herds are also common and males are very aggressive and territorial. It is not uncommon for waterbuck males to kill each other during a clash.

Waterbuck are active around water in the early morning and evening and are usually found near a waterhole, river or dam where they bed down in the heat of the day. They prefer open dambos or floodplains but can be found in any habitat near water. 

hunting tips - the hunt
In thick cover waterbuck are very difficult to get a shot at and will burst away in a crashing gallop. They are best hunted by walking in the cover of brush around waterholes, dambos, floodplains and rivers. Often they will stand dead-still facing the pursuer and break from a few yards away. When females are sighted there is usually a male in attendance and patience is usually the best manner of drawing out the male.

Their smelly meat is a result of contamination from the oil on the skin whilst gutting. One would have to be a magician to prevent the oil from getting onto the skin!



hunting tips - the calibre
A well placed shot is essential as waterbuck are tough animals capable of carrying a wound for many days days before eventually dying. When wounded they can be aggressive and care should be taken when approaching the animal.

A medium to heavy calibre, like .300 or .375 Magnum is recommended with a well placed shoulder shot. Try and avoid a neck shot as their furry coat is often misleading.

hunting tips - the trophy
Waterbuck are often misleading to judge with many novice PHs making mistakes at a distance. There are two basic types of horn shape, one which spreads out wide from the bases which gives the impression of a large trophy. The other runs straight upward without much spread at all, often curling forwards towards the tips. 

The best horns usually sport thick prominent bases which are best judged from the side. They run upwards and outwards for a considerable length before curling inwards and forward. Often longer narrow horns showing a considerable curl when viewed from the side are a better trophy than horns which run out very wide and upwards from the bases.

hunting tips - where
The Common or Ringed Waterbuck (due to a white bulls-eye ring around their buttock) is the larger of the subspecies and is widespread throughout Africa. They occur in most classical hunting countries like South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania and are by far the most hunted.

The Defassa Waterbuck also has a wide distribution but is perhaps confined to more specific localities. They are similar to the Common Waterbuck except for a slightly smaller body and horn size and a solid white patch on their buttocks as opposed to a ring.

Sing Sing Waterbuck occur in a wide distribution band above Congo from the Central African Republic westwards. They are hunted in CAR and Cameroon.

East African Defassa Waterbuck primarily occurs from Kenya northwards to Ethiopia. Today they are huntable in Tanzania.

Crawshay Defassa Waterbuck occurs primarily in western and central Zambia with the Kafue areas being the only hunting grounds.

Angolan Defassa Waterbuck primarily in Angola and western sub-Saharan Africa.

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