An obscure and unique looking animal, the gerenuk is known for its abnormally long neck and small head. There are 2 subspecies of gerenuk antelope – the Southern and Northern gerenuk. The gerenuk is sometimes referred to as the Waller’s gazelle though they are not strictly gazelle antelope, nor related to the gazelle specie. Both Gerenuk species are found in arid thornbush areas/Savanah thornbush and the southern gerenuk of Tanzania is one of the unique Masailand animals, sought after by hunters of this area.
The northern and southern gerenuk can both be hunted in the lowlands of Ethiopia.The northern gerenuk occurs in the southern Danakil region of Ethiopia, south-east of the Awash River. The southern gerenuk can be found in the south of Ethiopia, east of the Omo river and can also be hunted in Masailand, northern Tanzania.
There is not much of a physical difference between the 2 Gerenuk subspecies and may only be an issue if you were a serious collector, wanting one of each and hunting in the areas of Ethiopia where their ranges meet. When observed from up close one will find that the Southern Gerenuk is slightly smaller with a shorter neck than the Northern gerenuk. The southern sub specie is also slightly darker with a greater color contrast between its darker back and light flanks. The white area on the rump of the southern gerenuk is also larger than that on the Northern Gerenuk. All these differences can be really tricky to tell especially when observing an animal which is alone in the field.
These animals rest during the heat of the day so going after one early morning or late afternoon will be the best. As with most antelope hunting walk and stalk in the habitat where the animal occurs will yield success. The gerenuk is a very shy and skittish animal soon should stalk and approach with caution, if these animals sense danger they are gone in a flash.
Due to modified lumbar vertebrae and wedge-shaped hooves, gerenuk can securely stand erect on their hind legs to browse about 2 metres up into trees and bushes, this is actually amazing to see and is unique to this specie! Gerenuk are also know to be completely independent of water as they receive their moisture from leaves and shrubs that they consume. They are found in small mixed herds of 2 to 10 animals. Only the male gerenuk carry horns- which curve backwards and upwards, ending with hooked tips. The male gerenuk is also larger and has more body mass than the female.
Shot placement on a gerenuk is fairly straight forward. One-third of the way up on the body inline with the shoulder for a good broadside heart shot, the centre of the chest on a frontal shot and behind the shoulder on a quartering away shot. Be careful not to aim for the neck when hunting gerenuk, their neck is very long and thin and does not provide a good target. A plains game calibre from .270 and upwards will suffice for these animals.
A trophy gerenuk will have thick bases and longhorns with long hooked tips facing forwards. The Rowland Ward Record of Big Game minimum for a southern gerenuk is 13 3/8 inches with the world number one that measured 17 5/8 inches. SafariClubs International minimum for the Southern Gerenuk is 34 inches with world number 1 standing at 46 2/8 inches. The northern gerenuk Rowland Ward minimum is 13 inches and world no1 measured 17 inches on the longest horn. Safari Club International has a minimum score of 34 inches with their record standing at 48 1/8 inches.
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