To many people African safari hunting brings fond memories of watching “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins on TV, or Ernest Hemingway novels pop into their heads. I was no different, as a kid I dreamed of safari’s just as many other boys did. I was lucky enough to have my dreams come true as an adult. After hunting in Africa many times, I graduated to bigger and bigger game. One of the most recent for me personally was hunting African Elephant in Zimbabwe.
Prior to my hunt, I read the book “A Game Wardens Report,” a book that lays out quite clearly that the health of the herd depends on its ability to sustain itself. Obviously to do that, they must gather enough food, “a lot” of food – sometimes up to 600 lbs. of greenery each per day. When you have too many elephants they can turn a forest into a desert. When the forest becomes a desert- nothing lives there (almost). So….if you love Africa, (and we do) and you appreciate ALL the critters there, sometimes the best thing to do . . is hunt an elephant. The goal is always to keep the population stable or growing, but not beyond the capacity of the territory.
Tuskless cows are elephants with a genetic mutation in which the elephant never had and never grows tusks. These cows without tusks struggle to eat, and are unable to strip bark from trees which is necessary to their diet. Because of this, they are malnourished and can only survive by “stealing” from other elephants, thereby, stressing the herd. Also, the tuskless mutation can be spread, causing future generations to also suffer. This is why the game departments will sometimes promote hunting these tuskless elephants to protect the herds health; usually at a reduced price.
My personal hunt for “Ellie” began in the Zambesi escarpment. We were on walk and stalk, and would occasionally find elephant herds in which we would glass them to see if they had a tuskless cow (which is a feat in itself to ensure it’s a true tuskless). We found one! We got as close as we possibly could, which was about 60 yards – which in elephant terms is close. Obviously, the shots for elephant are very tricky. In this case, I had a clear shot, but I had to aim carefully through a fork in a tree 20 yards away. There are 2 reasons I wanted to ensure a good shot, 1) You don’t ever want an elephant to come charging at you – you will NOT win, and 2) we always strive to be as absolutely as humane as possible. No hunter ever wants to see any animal suffering. So, I had my chance and was comfortable that I could take her. I made the shot, and she went down with one round from my .404
With a lot of help from the camp and a local village we skinned the cow in a very short amount of time, in which, the trunk and all but a very small serving of the meat was donated to the local village and chief, which was much appreciated. For myself, I managed to get an unusual trophy to take home as a remembrance; a small amount of skin, the tail, and the skull. She is mounted respectfully on a custom pedestal made of beautiful African wood, and is a constant reminder of the importance of conservation. Contact us now for more information if you’d like to experience your own elephant hunt.