Black Wildebeest Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the black wildebeest

  • The Black wildebeest also are known as White-tailed gnu, is an ungulate that lives in the savannas of central and eastern South Africa. The species’ historic range also included the open plains and grasslands of Lesotho and Swaziland.
  • The most interesting fact about black wildebeest is their comeback from near extinction. It is noted that only 17 of these animals were left after being eradicated by Mucous Disease.
  • Nowadays these African antelopes are found only on protected game farms in southern Africa. In the past black wildebeest inhabited the Highveld temperate grasslands during the dry winter and in the rainy season they migrate to the arid to semiarid Karoo regions.
  • But even when in the past their numbers were much higher in the central plains of South Africa they never migrated on masse as their close relative the Blue Wildebeest still does in places.
  • They are very gregarious animals, forming groups consisting of males and females with calves (30 to 500 individuals, usually), but are also seen in groups composed solely of females and their offspring or by single males.
  • In periods of drought, animals of various groups gather in herds which can reach thousands of individuals. These herds migrate towards the major rivers and lakes across considerable distances. The wildebeests are often associated with other African ungulates such as impala, giraffes, and zebras in particular. They may also be associated with the ostriches.
  • The Black wildebeest is an extremely fast runner, reaching a maximum speed of 50 mph. They serve as an important prey base for large predators such as lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and cape hunting dogs.
  • The typical lifespan of the black wildebeest in the wild is about 20 years.

The difference between a male and female black wildebeest

The male is larger with heavier and slightly longer horns than the female and higher at the shoulder. The horns have a broad base in mature males and are flattened to form a protective shield, this is not the case in females.

Black Wildebeest male on the plains

Black Wildebeest Male

Black Wildebeest female

Black Wildebeest Female

Background information for African Black Wildebeest Hunting

The black wildebeest inhabits open plains, grasslands, and Karoo shrub lands in both steep mountainous regions and lower undulating hills. A dominant male black wildebeest has a harem of females and will not allow other males to mate with them.

The black wildebeest has a dark brown or black coat, which is slightly paler in summer and coarser and shaggier in the winter. Calves are born with shaggy, fawn-colored fur. Males are darker than females. They have bushy and dark-tipped manes that, as in the blue wildebeest, stick up from the back of the neck.

Black wildebeest females are smaller in size and more slender than males. Males reach about 44 to 48 inches at the shoulder, while females reach 42 to 46 inches. Males typically weigh 309 to 370 pounds and females 243 to 269 pounds.

A distinguishing feature in both sexes is the tail, which is long and similar to that of a horse. Its bright-white color gives this animal the vernacular name of "white-tailed gnu", and also distinguishes it from the blue wildebeest, which has a black tail

Both sexes have strong horns that curve forward, resembling hooks, which are up to 24 inches long. The horns have a broad base in mature males and are flattened to form a protective shield. In females, the horns are both shorter and narrower.

The difference between a Blue and Black Wildebeest

The difference between a Blue and Black Wildebeest

Black Wildebeest Hunting in South Africa

Your black wildebeest trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 45 inches, weigh about 350 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 20 inches. The Safari Club International score for a black wildebeest is 72. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

Also known as the White-Tailed Gnu or to some as the "Clowns of Africa", this is mostly due to the way in which they tend to run in circles when being approached. The most interesting fact about black wildebeest is their comeback from near extinction. It is noted that only 17 of these animals were left after being eradicated by Mucous Disease, but due to successful conservation efforts, their numbers are up again.

Nick Bowker has access to a number of Black Wildebeest herds. Hunting Blesbok and Black Wildebeest is very similar with both species out on the open plains. Anthills are the main hiding point as you try and ambush these plains animals. As with blesbok, black wildebeest bunch together at stages so careful communication with Nick Bowker, your professional hunter is very important. Hunting is mainly done through setting up ambushes looking down valleys.

Big bulls are very territorial and will often return to their territory very shortly after being disturbed. When judging the trophy quality of the Black Wildebeest, it's important to look at the size of the boss, the drop on the curl and the height of the rise of the tips. Mature bulls will display black/darkened hair between their bosses or leading to their bosses and not red/brown hair, the sign of immaturity. A very tough animal to bring down!

Black Wildebeest hunting in Africa. Shot placement

Shot Placement for Black Wildebeest Hunting

With both sexes carrying horns, it sometimes takes quite a bit of patience to distinguish the bulls from the cows. Hunting black wildebeest is most likely best pursued during the morning or late afternoon while the herd is grazing. During cool weather, they will graze anytime, but when it is warm, they tend to rest during the hottest part of the day.

Caution is the “watchword” when hunting black wildebeest, as he can be very aggressive when mating, disturbed, or wounded. This 'clown of the plains’ will often be seen trotting in circles and chasing other members of the herd.

Hunting black wildebeest in Africa on open terrain calls for a flat shooting caliber. We recommend a 300 magnum. For those hunters who do not wish to go through the red tape of having to bring a rifle into South Africa Nick Bowker Hunting has available a Sako carbon light 300 Winchester Magnum fitted with a suppressor. The rifle is mounted with a Swarovski DS with a built-in rangefinder. We have hand loaded Hornady ELD-X 200 grain ammunition. This set up including ammunition is available as part of all hunting packages free of charge.

IDENTIFICATION: Appears much larger at a distance with a characteristic beard and hair on the nose. Distinctive long whitetail.

A black wildebeest trophy hunted in South Africa with Nick Bowker Hunting. One of Africa’s leading hunting safari outfitters

Black Wildebeest Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter