Hunting Lion

The African Lion (Panthera leo) is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature.

At Kaiwhai Safaris we have all the legal rights and permits to hunt this world-famous animal in South Africa and Namibia. With our programs of conservation through sustainable hunting our Lion numbers are increasing each year, while in other parts of Africa they are decreasing.

A Lion hunt is one of the toughest, but most rewarding hunts of the Dangerous 7 list. First, we find the Lion tracks and then you literally walk the Lion down, making it a fair chase. All depending on the lion’s behaviour they will eventually hide in a bush or thick brush to ambush the hunter. It is usually a 10-60 yard shot, with two qualified backup Professional Hunters to ensure safety and success.

Natural History
One of the Big Five; Africa’s most well-known, respected, and feared dangerous big-game animal; largest of Africa’s felines. Weighs between 400 and 500 pounds, stands nearly four feet at shoulder, overall length up to ten feet. Lionesses are somewhat smaller, weighing 250 to 350 pounds’ Generally more aggressive than males. Mature lions have little fear of man, especially bold during darkness. Superb night vision. Lionesses with cubs particularly aggressive. Lion prey on virtually all the continent’s animal species. Retractable, talon-like claws. Only members of cat family that live social lives.

Sex Determination
Only males have manes; mane starts to develop between 2.5 and 3 years, some males remain mane-less but are generally larger than females with thicker, heavier-set necks and more heavily muscled shoulders.

Trophy Evaluation
Mane on exceptional lion will cover the shoulders and frontal chest area. May even extend down to the elbows and along belly line. Skull measured for record book; SCI method (15) and Roland Ward method (17): combined score in inches of greatest length and width of skull.

The Hunt
Baiting is the most practiced lion hunting method. Lions have huge appetites; can consume up to 25 percent of own body weight in single feeding. Need large quantities of meat for baiting purposes, Zebra favourite bait, followed by buffalo and hippo, but will feed on virtually any kind of meat. Hang bait at least six feet above ground from a tree in the centre of an open area with good, all-round visibility. Lion will usually feed on bait during the hours of darkness. Catch them still on it at first light (half-hour before sunrise) or when they arrive at last light. Tracking lion not all that difficult – like to walk on roads and game trails. Tracking to daytime resting place also a good hunting method.

Rifle, Calibre, and Bullet Selection
A 7mm that produces 3,000 ft-lb of muzzle energy the legal minimum in some African countries. In others, .375 H&H. With smaller calibres, use heaviest soft point bullet available. With larger calibres, soft point bullets that will expand relatively quickly are the ones of choice. Good scope essential for all “bait”/low-light shots. Wounded lion follow-up entirely different situation. For this, bigger is definitely better: .40 or .458 calibres with heavy, expanding bullets. Open, express-sighted double the best rifle choice for a follow-up.

Shot Placement

  • Side-on high heart/lung shot surest and most recommended: Place shot well back behind shoulder, on or just below the body’s horizontal midline.
  • High shoulder/spinal shot will drop a lion; the spine lies directly beneath middle of shoulder blade. With trophy lion that are not heavily maned, sometimes possible to make out scapula beneath skin, however, when mane covers shoulders, this shot extremely difficult.
  • Brain shot not recommended as skull measured for record books.
  • Full frontal shot: Place shot squarely into centre of chest.
  • Rear-end shot: Place at base of tail just above anus; never an initial shot, only as back up.

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