Small Game, Dangerous Game in Two Reports from Mozambique
We have two Mozambique hunt reports this month, one detailing a hunt for small antelope and another on a classic buffalo hunt. The first comes from subscriber Robert Coleman, who hunted three ‘Tiny 10’ antelope with Grant Taylor’s Mashambanzou Safaris (www.mashambanzousafaris.com; +258-82-533-0796) in October. Coleman and PH Martin Snyman collected all targeted species—Livingstone suni, Sharpe Grysbok, and red duiker—on two separate concessions.
Writes Coleman, “This was my second hunt with Grant Taylor, having hunted with him from hippo and crocodile eleven years and. Both hunts were perfectly executed. My PH on this hunt was 28-year old Martin Snyman. He is an absolute pleasure to hunt with, and he has the knowledge and ability of a veteran PH.”
We caught up with Coleman over the phone for more on his hunt. He tells us, “When I first heard about the ‘Tiny 10’ antelope, I already had six of them. Shooting these smaller critters can be incredibly fun and challenging, so I decided to go for the rest. I found that Mashambanzou had access to three species I hadn’t hunted, and I booked a hunt for October 2018.
“After stopping at another camp overnight on the way north from Beira, the first concession we hunted was Catapu. There are tons of suni in this area, and you may see 150 a day. We had multiple stalks that did not result in shot opportunities or where we decided to hold off. Most of the spotting we did from the truck, hopping out to make an approach if we saw a promising animal. Shots are not too long, but the target is small. We got there on Saturday afternoon and got both suni and red duiker by Tuesday, enjoying some great stalks. My suni had 6.25-in horns and will make the record books.
“On Tuesday we headed to the next camp near Makossa. Here we hunted Sharpe grysbok at night, which was the biggest challenge of the hunt. We would drive around with a spotlight looking for eyes at night and then try to get in for a shot. This was a productive concession for these animals, and I had my grysbok down by Thursday.
“Both camps were very good, like the Old Africa. No internet or any of the frills. Catapu is much more remote. Makossa is a newer camp, very comfortable. They ran the generator at night in both camps. We only had about five hours of driving back to Beira after the hunt.”
Coleman said that he saw a lot of kudu, nyala, impala and warthog on his hunt in addition to the smaller game he targeted.
Operator Grant Taylor wrote us with an update on his operations in Mozambique. He hunts six large free-range concessions, holding the contract on five of them. Each can accommodate two to four hunters. “Our 2018 season has been our best yet, with over 600 days of hunting this year. We are now the largest company in Mozambique in terms of days hunted as well as concessions controlled.
“The area where Coleman hunted grysbok is Coutada 9, which is held by the Duckworths, at a camp called Tandikwe. We have a standing agreement to hunt in their area for species that aren’t abundant in our areas, which has worked out well.
“Elsewhere we have two blocks on the north bank of Lake Cahora Bassa which are doing great for leopard, elephant, crocodile, hippo (now back on quota in Mozambique) and general plains game. This is a dry area made up of mostly mopane woodland and rocky outcrops, perfect habitat for leopard. Poaching has been minimal in these areas over the last few years. One of the reasons the leopard population is doing so well in the area is the poachers don’t use gin traps or wire snares here. All too often gin traps and wire snares are set for antelope but not checked regularly. When they die and start to rot this attracts the cats and they get caught in one of the other snares on the line.
“There is a large density of roan in these areas, too, and there is talk that in 2019 we may finally receive a few on quota, which would be great.
“Catapu we have been hunting since 2012, and it is without a doubt the best free range area in the country for nyala, suni, red duiker and other species that prefer the unique sand forest. It is not uncommon to see 200-300 suni in a day and 100+ red duiker and nyala in a day. This used to be a hardwood timber concession and was actively patrolled for the last 25 years, so the area has not been poached. The habitat is predominantly forest with thick cover that suits browsing species, but there are very good numbers of leopard as well as impala and other plains game.
“The Muanza concression is one of the bases of our operation. We have recently received title on the land from the government as this is considered a game farm under the laws of the country. We are in the process of high fencing this concession, the first of its kind in Mozambique. The area is around 40,000 hectares. We expect the fencing project to be complete by the middle of 2019. Given the way large open concessions in Africa are getting more limited and game quality is declining, we see this as the future of the industry. We will be able to continue to offer clients both free-range concessions as well as large high fence areas.”
Taylor also gave us an update on his most recent acquisition, Mahimba. We told readers about this area back in March (see ‘Mashambanzou Safaris Acquires Additional Concession’ in our database).
“We had a great season there for buffalo, sable, crocodile and other general plains game. Buffalo are seen every day in large numbers and it is not uncommon to see 50-100 sable per day in the dryer months.” Taylor says that the buffalo quota there will remain low until age structure rebounds.
On a less upbeat note, he says that Mashambanzou will no longer operate in Coutada 7. “We have unfortunately relinquished this area back to the government as the elephant poaching during 2014-2016 was too severe. This area essentially only had elephant in it, and it was no longer viable to continue there.” Along with neighboring Tanzania, Mozambique has been particularly hard hit by the latest waves of elephant poaching.
Our second Namibia report comes from subscriber Emery Reynolds, who hunted buffalo in Niassa Reserve L7 with PH Paul Stones of Paul Stones Safaris (www.paulstonessa.co.za; +27-11-467-4444).
Writes Reynolds, “I have been hunting buffalo in Africa for 16 years, taking an annual trip to varied countries over that time. I will admit that my hunt on Mount Loosimingor last year was the most unique and memorable, but this Mozambique trip is the classic miombo woodland hunt that we all dream about.
“The L7 block is amazing. The game is as plentiful as I have ever experienced and the attitude of the guides and hunting company is positive towards the maintenance of the future of the area. You see everything from sable to buffalo in great numbers. I took two old buffalo bulls, and saw many of their brothers. My best was a 41-inches, with several much larger than that being spotted. My hunting companion took hippo, crocodile, and buffalo (another great old bull) as well as a 44-in sable. I have never seen sable like these in my life, and I can’t imagine those in fenced ranches in South Africa are bigger.
“If you’re sensitive to tsetse flies, good luck, as they are many. If you can tolerate them, then this is one of the remaining really wild places in Africa. We saw elephant, lion, hyena, buffalo, waterbuck, sable, impala, duiker, hippo, crocodile, zebra, eland and Hartebeest multiple times each day.
“Paul Stones books most hunts at this concession, including my own. I have hunted with him for years, and his guidance, skill and ethics make him indispensable as a PH. He is dedicated to the conservation mission at L7, including the decision to disallow herd hunting. This will be welcome to those who have seen the opposite at work in many areas in Africa. L7 is managed by Luwire Conservation Group, and includes photographic/research and hunting blocks. There is over 200 miles of river front with water present year round. Former manager Derek Littleton is now dedicated exclusively to anti-poaching. John Nel is the new manager and Brian Johnson heads up the hunting component. The results of sound management are easy to see here.”