Red Lechwe Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the lechwe

  • Four subspecies of these antelopes have been identified and include:
    1. The black lechwe found in areas of Zambia.
    2. The red lechwe found in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana and South Africa.
    3. The Roberts Lechwe formerly found in Zambia but are now considered extinct.
    4. As well as the Kafue flats lechwe of Zambia.
  • The lechwe are one of the three antelope species that are known to form breeding arenas with a high population density.
  • These antelopes inhabit marshy areas and feed on mostly aquatic plants. They always utilize the knee-deep water for safety and protection against their predators. It is for this reason that their legs are covered in water-repellant substances that allow them to run very fast in the knee-deep waters.
  • They are characterized by their golden-brown coats with white bellies. You will notice that the males are darker in color although this usually varies depending on the subspecies. Their hindquarters are higher and wider than their forequarters with long necks and short yet blunt muzzles.
  • Their long and spiral-structured horns are lyre-shaped and are only found in males. This is one of the ways to identify their sexes but both sexes have longer hind legs, in proportion to other antelope species, which is important for easing long distance running in marshy soils.
  • Lechwe are diurnal animals and also live in large herds comprising of up to thousands of individuals. These herds are surprisingly of one sex but will mix during the mating season.
  • Lechwe have greasy and water-repellent coats and females have tawny to chestnut coats that resemble one another, apart from the minor differences in their markings.
  • They usually enter water to feed on aquatic grasses, one of the abundant resources that are not utilized by majority of the other herbivores and usually graze on grasses that spring up as floodwaters increase.

The difference between a male and female red lechwe

Red Lechwe males have horns while females do not. Females are also smaller and can be lighter in color.

Lechwe male with horns lying in the grass

Red Lechwe Male

Lechwe female is smaller than the male and without horns

Red Lechwe Female

Background information for African Red Lechwe Hunting

Medium sized antelope. Reddish yellow upper parts and darker on the back than on the flanks and legs. White on the underpants, with a white band running up the front of the neck to the jaw, with characteristic dark markings on the forelegs. The shoulders are distinctly lower than the rump, and body slants forward. The female is smaller than the male and has no horns.

Always in or near water on shallow flood plains, along swamps and rivers and well-watered grasses. Lechwe have also adapted well to open savannah country. Usually form small herds between 10-30 animals on the savannah. Bachelor herds, nursing herds and solitary adult males can be distinguished. During the mating season, a few males establish small territories, which they share with some nursing herds so as to establish a breeding area.

Red Lechwe Hunting in South Africa

Your red lechwe trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 39 inches, weigh about 200 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 24 - 26 inches. The Safari Club International minimum score for a red lechwe is 58. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

The Lechwe male is usually of trophy quality at around 5 years. The Red Lechwe is an extremely beautiful trophy and do not occur in abundance in South Africa. Numbers are good throughout the Eastern Cape. When selecting a male to hunt, take note of the spread of the horns backwards and outwards and tips have opened and hooked forward. Horns will wear down dramatically with age.

Lechwe are an introduced species and are not endemic to the Eastern Cape. Lechwe have adapted well to open savannah country. Nick Bowker hunting has access to a number of free ranging herds of lechwe in the Bedford area. Lechwe have done very well in a free ranging environment where they are less susceptible to the brown tick. In fenced areas during very dry periods lechwe are forced to go deep in to the brush foraging for grazing where they encounter the brown ear tick. In a free ranging environment, they are able to move and find grazing without having to go deep in the brush.

Red Lechwe hunting in Africa. Shot placement

Shot Placement for Red Lechwe Hunting

Only the ram carries horns, which sweep backward initially and then curve forward at the tips. The female of the species tends to be a bit smaller. This antelope forms herds of 10 to 30 individuals and can be seen just about any time of day. The lechwe feeds on dry grasses and drinks regularly. The herd grazes primarily during early morning and late afternoon, resting on dry land during the heat of the day.

Hunting lechwe can be a real challenge, as he will tend to stand and watch his pursuer, keeping just out of reasonable range. We would recommend a .30 caliber or even better the flat shooting 7mm magnum.

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.

The aim point is the standard high heart/lung shot; straight up the foreleg, one third into the body and squeeze. Your lechwe should not go far.

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

Red Lechwe Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter