18. Greater Kudu---Zimbabwe
There are several species of kudu. The greater kudu is the most common and its range
is the green color in southern Africa Perhaps the most captivating and highly prized
of all the African antelope is the greater kudu. The elegant greater kudu is an antelope
species, kudu are found in the thick bush of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique
and South Africa. They are about the size of an elk, with longer legs, spiral horns,
and beautiful markings. The greater kudu is one of the spiral-horned antelopes, a
group with several beautiful species in the bushbuck family. Most members of this
family have gray bodies with white stripes, white facial stripes and spots, and spiral
horns with ivory tips. The nyala is another member of this family. Only the males
have horns (though some females may have very small horns), and you can age the males,
to a degree, by the size of the horns. Very young bulls have the beginnings of one
spiral. Three-four year old bulls are starting their second spiral and the oldest
bulls are starting to get a third spiral. The biggest kudu have horns over 58 inches
in length and one over 60" would be huge. This particular bull was over twenty years
of age, and his horns were worn considerably. Because he was so old his horns are
only 50 inches. The meat of the kudu is excellent, and one of many qualities that
make this species important for photo safaris and hunting safaris.
When that first bull kudu approaches the blind, you know that you are looking at
one of the most magnificent animals in the world. The big bulls are that impressive.
This bull came from Zimbabwe in 1996. He came to a water hole with several other
bulls. I could tell from his physical appearance that he was very old and could not
live much longer. The 28 yard shot was good and he ran about 40 yards. Around 30
minutes later, as I waited for the professional hunter to arrive, I heard wings flapping
in the trees behind my blind. After hearing this for ten minutes, I climbed out of
the blind and there were at least 50 vultures sitting in trees over the dead kudu.
It hadn’t taken them long to find him, and I wasn’t about to let them rob me of that
great meat, so I stood near the kudu till “help” arrived. The professional hunter
estimated the kudu at more than 20 years of age.