Hunting Elephant

African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the largest animals walking the Earth. Their herds wander through 37 countries in Africa.  They are threatened by loss of habitat and fragmentation, and by poaching for their Ivory tusks.

At Kaiwhai Safaris we have hundreds of free roaming Elephants on our Caprivi Concession in Northern Namibia. We have the legal rights and permits to hunt them in this area. It needs to be mentioned that an Elephant hunted with us will feed a village for more than 2 months, protein these people can’t afford.

Hunting this huge mammal in the thick Mopane Forest is no easy task. An Elephant walks like a mouse and can disappear right in front of your eyes. Their keen sense of smell can often bust a hunter that’s been following them for hours. A recommended 10-day hunt with lots of precision stalking results in our 100% success rate on Elephants. This is truly a brutal hunt, but every hunter appreciates the rewarding feeling after the hunt.

Natural History
Member of Big Five. World’s largest land mammal. Weighs up to Seven tons, stands eleven feet or more at the shoulder. Dark grey skin provides excellent camouflage. Extremely nimble and fast for its size. Eyesight relatively poor, sense of smell phenomenal, hearing also very good. Life expectancy 50 to 70 years. Voracious and destructive feeders. Preferred diet: grass. Daily food requirement: 500 pounds

Sex Determination
Cows found in herds of varying size; smaller body size; thin, slender tusks; sharp, almost 90-degree angle to foreheads. Mature bulls have large heads in relation to body size, top of forehead rounded, not angled. Usually found on their own or in company of a few other bulls, only occasionally with a herd of cows. Tuskless cows and those with young calves at side can be extremely aggressive.

Trophy Assessment
The older the elephant, the better. Cracks on the soles of the feet widen and deepen with age, and heels (hind feet especially) wear smooth when old. Soles of front feet round, hind feet oval. Judging weight of ivory: estimate diameter of tusk at lip in inches x 3 = circumference of tusk at lip. Multiply this by estimated length of tusk along outside of curve, from lip to tip, in feet. Subtract 5 and answer will be tusk’s approximate weight in pounds. SCI method (14) sum of weight of both tusks. Roland Ward method (16) weight of heaviest tusk.

The Hunt
Involves finding the right spoor and then tracking. You hunt an elephant with your legs! Toenail scuffmarks point forward, indicating direction of travel. Spoor size indicates body size and age. Droppings are used to determine how close you are getting. Fresh dung strong smelling, warm, wet, and yellowish green in colour; changes to walnut brown as outer surface dries out. Wind direction is very important. Move slowly and quietly. Get in close for the first shot. Fifty paces is considered a long shot; 20-30 about average.

Rifle, calibre, and Bullet selection
Legal minimum ‘375 H&H. Use only good-quality solids. No margin for shot placement error with .375. The various .40 calibres and 400-grain solids a better option; more knockdown effect. The .458s and 500-grain solids at a minimum of 2100 fps the best choice.

Shot placement

  • Broadside high heart/lung shot safest and surest: Sight up back edge of front leg, then up armpit crease to where it stops; a hand’s width above this point and a hand’s width in front of it is top of heart.
  • Full frontal heart/lung shot possible only if elephant has trunk out of the way and head up: Place shot squarely into centre of chest.
  • Brian shot; impressive but difficult for the inexperienced to get angles right.
  • Side-on brain shot easier: Place in ear hole or up to a hand’s width in front of it (remember to compensate for upward shooting angle if head held higher than shooter’s eye level)
  • Frontal brain shot difficult; depends entirely on angle of head: imagine a broomstick through ear holes; shoot to cut broomstick in half.
  • Backup shots: Spinal shot best option from rear, or try to break either of the hip joints, raking body shot best when angled away. Get in as many backup shots as possible-just in case.

Shot placement on any of the dangerous game in Africa is vital. Below are some images from a very well-known author, Kevin Robertson’s Book – Perfect Shot Placement for African Big Game. If you would like to buy a copy of this book, which we would recommend, you can get it on Amazon, by clicking here