The Bontebok is a unique species with a very unique conservation story in South Africa. They are very similar to the Blesbuck and usually taken by hunters who want to add this specific trophy to their collection. Bontebok are very similar in appearance and habits to the blesbuck, but are easily identified from the white patch on their hind quarters.
The bontebok is indigenous to the Western Cape Province in South Africa where they roamed in thousand’s, this was until they were almost hunted to extinction during the early 1800’s. There were so many bontebok in the region and they were so easy to hunt that people harvested this species to trade and live off. This soon led to only 17 individual bontebok remaining, in the whole of Africa. These 17 individuals were protected on private land and Trans located to the Bontebok National Park in 1931, located in The western Cape province. The animals slowly started breeding until 1960 where the herd was wiped out by disease. The remaining animals were then Trans located to another area and conserved. All Bontebok which are alive today are descendants from this population and there are estimated to be over 10000 living bontebok to this day.
Bontebok have been translocated to various suitable private game farms throughout south Africa. They can now be hunted in the Western Cape, Eastern cape, Free state and Northern Cape provinces. There is a limited quota and unfortunately the trophy cannot be imported into the USA.
Bontebok are hunted in the exact same way that one would go after blesbuck. Bontebok prefer wide open areas and tend to avoid areas with dense cover. They are gregarious animals and will not often be seen outside of a herd. Walking and stalking the herds after spotting them a long way out is the most successful method and the most practiced. Be sure to be patient and wait for a clear shot. Identifying the male bontebok is relatively easy as the males are significantly bigger and heavier than the females. Both sexes carry horns but those of the make are thick and will have more body to them. A young immature bontebok will not be light in colour when compared to an adult and their horns will not complete the narrow lyre shape which they form. Be prepared for a fairly long shot when going after bontebok as due to the areas in which they inhabit there is minimal cover to hind behind and thus can be tricky to get close.
Often while hunting Bontebok the animals will scare and take off running. This is typical of bontebok as well as blesbuck. The best thing to do in such a situation is to leave the herd for a while, allowing them to settle down and come to terms with the fact that they are no longer in danger. Once the herd has settled and is back to normal, the stalk can be done again. Note the wind direction and move quietly and slowly, often when one makes a quick sudden movement in the field the animals pick the movement up and feel threatened straight away.
Good Bontebok trophies will have decent horn length and thick bases. Horns which measure around 14 inches will make a good representative trophy. The horns of The Bontebok do not grow as long as the horns of a blesbuck so the two should not be compared. Rowland Ward minimum length for a Bontebok is 14 inches while the safari Club international minimum is 36”. A mature male Bontebok will have white colouring on the ridges of his horns, and these males are also usually the highest scoring.
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