Roan Antelope Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the Roan Antelope

  • A grazer and browser whose preferred habitat includes lightly wooded savanna, it also frequents floodplains and grasslands. 
  • Like most antelopes, the roan is sociable and territorial. Females live in herds of 6–20 plus their offspring.
  • Males defend territories. Bulls can accompany female herds that range widely, thereby enjoying a monopoly. 
  • Herd composition changes from hour to hour as members come and go, but all who share the same home range belong to the same social unit, and perhaps most are related, as female offspring settle in the maternal home range. 
  • Males, though, are evicted and forced by territorial males to disperse as sub adults; these associate together in small bachelor herds until mature at six years of age. 
  • Females breed at two years and thereafter produce young at roughly 10.5-month intervals (gestation 9–9.5 months). 
  • After a 2–3 week hiding stage, calves join the maternal herd, where they associate with other juveniles in crèches.
  • Resting juvenile subgroups are often left behind when the rest of the herd moves, making them vulnerable prey for leopards
  • However, roan have been known to kill lions that failed to overpower them immediately. Their curved horns and a sideways stabbing technique, together with an aggressive temperament, make the roan antelope unusually formidable.

The difference between a male and female roan antelope

Both the roan antelope male and females have horns. The male’s horns are longer and heavier.

Roan antelope male with horns

Roan antelope Male

Roan antelope female with no horns

Roan antelope Females

Background information for African Roan Antelope Hunting

Roan antelope are one of the largest species of antelopes, only Elands, are larger. Male Kudus can exceed them in weight. They measure 75–94 inches from the head to the base of tail and the tail measures 15–19 inches.

The body mass of males is 550–650 pounds and of females 500–600 pounds. The shoulder of this species is typically around 51–55 inches.

Named for their roan color (a reddish brown), they have lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. They have short, erect manes, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. The horns are ringed and can reach a meter long in males, slightly shorter in females. They arch backwards slightly.

They are similar in appearance to sable antelope and can be confused where their ranges overlap. Sable antelope males are darker, being black rather than dark brown.

Roan antelope are found in woodland and grassland savanna, mainly in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, which range in tree density from forest with a grassy under store to grasslands dotted with few trees, where they eat mid length grasses.

 They form harem groups of five to 15 animals with a dominant male. Roan antelope commonly fight among themselves for dominance of their herd, brandishing their horns while both animals are on their knees.

Roan Antelope Hunting in South Africa

Your roan antelope trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 52 inches, weigh about 600 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 25 inches. The Safari Club International score for a roan antelope is 68. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

After eland and kudu, roan are Africa’s largest antelope. Caliber and shot placement are both very important, as Roan are large, tough and tenacious animals. Roan like sable are not indigenous to the Eastern Cape but have been introduced. Roan hunting in the Eastern Cape will be behind high fences.

Roan antelope trophy bull. Where to place your shot when roan antelope hunting in Africa

Shot Placement for Roan Antelope Hunting

These are very powerful and dangerous animals and some contests can end in a fatality if neither bull chooses to yield. When hunting roan antelope, the hunter can be subjected to serious injury if he gets too close to the backward sweep of the roan's powerful horns.

Predominantly grazers, the roan prefers savanna with wide, open grassy areas where they tend to scatter and feed. When grass becomes scarce, they revert readily to browsing, a habit not shared by their cousin the sable. They thus seem to stay in better shape than the sable during hard times.

Normally water dependent, unlike his brother gemsbok, he will most likely be found near a water source. When hunting roan antelope, do not be under-gunned; the roan is a heavy, tough, aggressive, and therefore potentially dangerous quarry. Look for his spoor around the water holes and catch him at first light while he is feeding in the open.

The herd bulls can be quite cocky and not all that hard to approach. Be very cautious and at the ready; he may just be so bold as to take you on in a charge. As with sable we would recommend the 300 magnums to hunt roan. For those hunters who do not wish to go through the red tape of having to bring a rifle in to South Africa Nick Bowker Hunting has available a 7mm custom made Remington Magnum fitted with a suppressor. The rifle is mounted with a Swarovski Z8 tactical scope. We have hand loaded Hornady ELD-X ammunition. This set up including ammunition is available as part of all hunting packages free of charge.

IDENTIFICATION: Very large greyish brown antelope with shoulders higher than its hind quarters. Roans have scimitar-like horns and distinctive long ears. The face seems to have a black mask with white patches in front of the eyes and around the mouth. Both sexes have horns.