Private Land Hunts in Zambia

Private Land Hunts in Zambia

We have two reports from Zambia on private land hunts, one on the Munyamadzi Game Reserve and another on an estate near Mkushi operated by Mumembe Safaris. Many hunters visiting Zambia will hunt mulitple areas to collect species like sitatunga and black lechwe that are not as readily available in prime dangerous game areas. Private reserves and ranches can offer a better chance at taking these species when time is limited, often at a lower cost.

Subscriber Aaron Adkins sent in a report on an August hunt at Munyamadzi booked through Game Hunters Africa (www.gamehuntersafrica.com; +27-33-383-2001), the agency of Glen and Mark Haldane of Zambezi Delta Safaris. He took Cape buffalo, puku, kudu, and Chobe bushbuck. Writes Adkins, “many buffalo hunts these days are more or less ‘buffalo only’, but this hunt had great plains game opportunities as well. It was also great to hunt in the southern Luangwa Valley, where many of Capstick’s stories are set.”

Adkins provided more detail on his hunt in a recent email conversation. “This hunt started with a look at a Cape Buffalo hunt in Mozambique with Zambezi Delta Safaris. I started talking with the Mark and Glen Haldane (who own ZDS). I was working around a holiday, and it became clear that the Moz hunt would take too much time. That was recommended as a 10-day hunt and it took a lot more time and effort to get to the concession. Glen also books hunts in other countries, including Zambia, through Game Hunters Africa. For a seven day hunt, working around the holiday, a hunt at Munyamadzi worked out better for me. Munyamadzi is an eight hour drive from Lusaka, so a time-consuming and expensive charter flight is not required. I do hope to get to the big ZDS concession in Mozambique at some point in the future, but I was happy to take my first Zambia hunt.

“Game Hunters Africa books multiple hunts with Munyamadzi each year, so they have a good working relationship. Thor Kirchner is the lead PH there. Another client overlapped with me, so I hunted with another Zambian PH, who was excellent.

“For the hunt, we went out each morning and looked for fresh buffalo spoor. There was a very large buffalo herd in the area–certainly well over 100 and likely over 200. I am told that they were normally split into smaller groups, moving back and forth between Munyamadzi and the concession to the north. There are no fences, and all game is truly free ranging. The herd left the day before I arrived and did not return until later in the hunt, so I concentrated on the plains game for the first part of the week. The reserve borders the South Luangwa river, and about 80% of our plains game hunting took place near the river.

“I saw abundant game with great trophy quality, including more trophy kudu bulls than I have seen on many prior hunts, and many more bushbuck. We spotted trophy bushbuck, kudu, and puku on every day spent hunting these animals. I took a Chobe bushbuck that measured 15-plus-inches, and a puku that, like the bushbuck, came in well above the Rowland Ward minimum. The kudu, at 56 inches, was my biggest kudu taken to date. Both the kudu and the puku required multiple stalks on big trophies before I managed to connect.

“Once the buffalo returned we worked them. On day five we saw a monstrous old bull with horns around 45 inches, but he was with several cows and we could not get in for a shot. Another big bull gave us the slip into the neighboring concession. On the evening of day six (of a seven-day hunt) I took a fine hard-boss bull near dusk, and was very happy to have him down. I knew going in that I was not going to be able to be too picky regarding the buffalo. If one really wanted to hold out for a big trophy, a 10-day hunt would be the best bet.

“Munyamadzi offers other opportunities for plains game and dangerous game as well.  I saw many roan, impala, and waterbuck. Sable and zebra are present but not on quota. Kirchner also hunts leopard, hippo, and crocodile and has one lion on quota every other year.

“Well Zambia tends to be more expensive than some of the other southern Africa countries, the trophy quality for buffalo and other game and the opportunity to take unique trophies makes it a must-do. For me it was a real treat to hunt in Capstick’s footsteps, so to speak. I reread Death in the Long Grass and Death in the Dark Continent on this trip, and that added to the experience.

Glen Haldane of Game Hunters Africa reached us via email with more details. Munyamadzi Game Reserve is a 20,000-hectare private reserve that has operated for about 20 years. Thor Kirchner conducts extensive anti-poaching operations there, and the area is known for large populations of buffalo, roan, and kudu. There is a permanent camp on the reserve.

Haldane says that GHA books the West Petauke  GMA and other areas in Zambia. “Zambia is running very well for hunting, and offers among the best opportunities for leopard and buffalo combination hunts in Africa,” says Haldane. “Hunters can visit a number of areas, and we usually add sitatunga and lechwe onto the back end of hunts.”

Craig Willis (front) and PH Peter Michael Goetsch pose with a Kafue lechwe from Mumembe Ranch

Hunters generally need to visit multiple areas to collect both Kafue lechwe and black lechwe. Kafue lechwe range through the wetlands in the Kafue Flats, while black lechwe inhabit the Bangweulu Swamps to the north. However, subscriber Craig Willis says that there is a good estate option where hunters may take both trophies as well as sitatunga—the Mumembe Ranch in the Mkushi area.

Willis hunted Mumembe in early August as an add-on to a 21-day safari in the Nyampala GMA. He booked both hunts through Jay Link of Link’s Wild Safaris (www.linkswildsafaris.com; 715-520-0907).

In a phone conversation, Willis says that he particularly wanted to share his Mumembe hunt with readers because it offers great, no-hassle hunting “as long as you aren’t concerned about taking free-range trophies.”

He tells us, “I had originally planned to hunt in the Kafue Flats if I had time following a dangerous game hunt, but it ended up taking the full time. I only had a few days window before leaving for another hunt in South Africa, and Mumembe Safaris ended up being able to accommodate me. The operator, Peter Michael Goetsch, only takes a small number of hunters each year, roughly five or six. He runs a really nice operation. This is apparently the only estate where you can take both Kafue and black lechwe, and there are great numbers of these animals.”

Willis took black lechwe, sitatunga, bushpig, Lichtenstein hartebeest, waterbuck, and Defassa reedbuck. The estate also holds sable, puku, Chobe bushbuck, eland, impala, kudu, klipspringer and duiker.

“I got in a half day on arrival and hunted for two days after that. The area is about 20,000 acres and has a lot of variety, from mountainous terrain down to lush swamplands. For wetland species hunters may hunt out of a machan or drive to the resevoir and spot from the high rack, which is how we got the sitatunga. The reservoir covers about 30 acres. At other times we set some blinds, did some high rack hunting and some spot and stalk. The reedbuck was taken by tracking. There were a lot of really nice bushpigs around. I ended up shooting two of them, which was a lot of fun.

“Basically this place is the real deal. Too really take great trophies in Kafue Flats you probably need 7-12 days, but this is a great option to hunt some of Zambia’s unique animals in a shorter time frame. Trophy care was excellent, and Goetsch had all the skins ready and the heads boiled and ready to ship before my departure. The lodging at the permanent camp is superb, as is the food and the staff. I also really enjoyed time in the field with Goetsch.”

Jay Link of Link Wild Safaris tells us that he has been sending hunters to Zambia for many years, including the Nyampala GMA, one of the top dangerous game blocks in the Luangwa Valley, as well as other areas operated by Zaeed Patel. “We partner with four different operators there. August and September are prime times for lion and buffalo at Nyampala, but it is not a real good sitatunga area. When hunters have time they will often go to the ‘open areas’ in Banguele Swamp for sitatunga, where operators can purchase a hunting license for clients. We have not had any issues with scheduling hunts in the open areas, but private estate hunts fit better with timing for some clients.”

We also heard from Peter Michael Goetsch on his operations. He writes, “I have personally hunted all my life, including 15 years in Zambia, and I began hunting professionally after acquiring Mumembe Ranch five year ago. We are a fully-registered operator and are able to arrange all trophy exports with our licenses.

“In addition to the full range of non-dangerous game that we offer on our reserve we also offer dangerous game hunts in the Kafue and famous Luangwa valley areas, as well as specialized swamp hunts in the Bengweulu Swamps. Right now we are tendering for a GMA, a very exciting development for us.

“We work hard to benefit communities in the areas where we hunt and to promote the benefits of sustainable hunting. Of the two apprentice hunters in our outfit, one is an indigenous young man. This is part of an effort to pass on the skills of ethical hunting to a younger generation of Zambians.”

Goetsch also mentioned a recent change in Zambia hunting that may have some effect on human activity in game areas. “Resident hunting licence rates have been amended significantly upwards recently. This is a plus in the sense that it introduces the more serious local hunter to the GMAs who are willing to pay for the privilege to hunt a trophy animal, but it is a negative in that your average Zambian will not be able to afford to hunt and so will be tempted to revert to poaching to have access to bushmeat.”

If you hunted Zambia this season please file a report.