Africa: Last-Chance Sitatunga Hunt in Northern Zambia

This year is Zambia operator Muchinga Adventures’ last in the Tondwa GMA, which has proved a consistent area for trophy sitatunga. In Report 11084, subscriber Russell Marshall tells us that he took a 29.5-inch sitatunga, puku, and what may be the new #2 bushpig on an Oct. hunt there with PH Fico Vidale. Marshall also spent a day at the beginning of his trip hunting lechwe in the Kafue Flats. He booked through Mark Young of Mark’s Exclusive Travels (702-848-1693; Steve Turner at Travel with Guns (210-858-9833; handled travel arrangements.

Writes Marshall: “Tondwa didn’t disappoint, with multiple sightings of sitatunga rams and females as well as legions of puku. This is a great specialty area for a unique trophy. After a couple of outings in the machan, I ended up taking a nice sitatunga after a stalk across a mud flat. I also took a monster bushpig on the run, a big highlight of this hunt.

“I was surprised by how hard we had to work to find a shootable lechwe ram in the Kafue Flats, but we did find an excellent trophy during the one hunting day. Muchinga Adventures is a great outfit, and Laura and Johnny Du Plooy have the equipment, personnel and areas to make your hunt a success.

“I really enjoyed the company of PH Fico Vidale on this safari. His father hunted in Zambia for many years and he had his own company in Tanzania, so he has excellent experience and some great stories. I took his recommendation to travel and fish Lake Tanganyika one day, just an hour and a half from Tondwa, and enjoyed a relaxing break from the bush.”

Marshall filled us in with additional details on his safari. “The Du Plooys live in Lusaka, and they have comfortable guest’s quarters where I stayed after having dinner with them. The next morning Vidale and I drove several hours to Kafue at about 3:30 am, and I didn’t take a lechwe until about 12 hours later. I would liken this to a pronghorn hunt. You’ll see good numbers of lechwe, but shots will be on the longer side. We got back to Lusaka at about 10:00.

“There are domestic flights through a company called Proflight Zambia to a small airport at Kasaba Bay, a couple hours from Tondwa, so no charter flight was needed. Steve Turner coordinated with Muchinga to get the timing right on these flights.

“Camp at Tondwa had all the necessities, and everything was in great shape. At this time of year, the water on the flats has receded quite a bit, so we did not use canoes. It’s possible to see for miles on the flat terrain, and we spotted the sitatunga ram at about 800 yards and made a successful stalk for an 80-yard shot. I wore Keen sandals for the hunt, which drained well, but you still have to deal with leeches.”

This was Marshall’s first hunt with Muchinga. He took a 70-pound elephant with Du Plooy on a 2006 safari.

In his report, Marshall indicated that 2017 was the last season for Muchinga Adventures in Tondwa after 15 years in the block. However, the Du Plooys hold the block through 2018, according to Mark Young, who is booking hunts for the final season.

“Originally Frankfurt Zoological Society had plans to take over management of Tondwa after the 2017 hunting season, but that scheme fell through, leaving Muchinga with one more year in the GMA. I do not know whether the block will be reallocated, but it will be Muchinga’s last year there.”

Young says that sitatunga are abundant and that Tondwa should be a good bet for a trophy over 26 inches, with the possibility of a 30-inch animal. The GMA also has roan, sitatunga, blue duiker, puku, Lichenstein hartebeest, hippo, sable, warthog, reedbuck, bushpig and bushbuck.

Young advertises the cost of this hunt as $5,950 US, plus a $2,500 concession fee and $1,500 for licenses/conservation fee. The trophy fee for sitatunga is $6,000.

As for other hunts with Muchinga, Young says that the Chifunda GMA is one of Zambia’s top areas for buffalo. Young is also booking for newly opened tuskless elephant hunts (see page 3). His website advertises a five-day tuskless hunt (which can be an add-on) at $12,500, including trophy fee.