The Roan antelope is the second biggest antelope species which can be hunted Africa, the eland being number one. Poaching and habitat destruction has put these animals under immense pressure as they do not adapt very well to new environments. Conservation through hunting has given this specie a second wind and it is hunter’s dollars which has allowed ranchers to breed with them and successfully save these animals from extinction. There are in fact a total of Six subspecies of roan which occur in Africa however only four of the subspecies can be legally hunted. The Western Roan, Southern Roan, East African Roan and the Sudan Roan. These subspecies are classified according to their geographical distribution and are all very similar in appearance.
The Southern Roan is the most Common Roan which is hunted in Africa, this sub specie occurs Throughout South Africa, Namibia and Zambia. This animal is, however, a TOPS listed species in South Africa and therefore requires a permit to be obtained before the hunt commences. The western Roan can be taken in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
The East African Roan occurs only in Western Tanzania. The Sudan Roan can be hunted in Sudan.
What to expect when hunting Roan Antelope!
Roan are predominantly grazers and found in open savannah areas amongst woodlands. In times of poor grazing, they will begin to browse and start to feed on shrubs and leaves in the area. Roan are water dependant so they will be found close to a water source. Knowing this they can be tracked early morning from the water providing there is a fresh track to follow. Ambushing these animals or waiting in a blind at a water hole has proven to be a very successful way to hunt them.
Roan antelope are a close cousin to the sable as they are also part of the Hippotragus family. The roan is bigger in body size than the sable but carries shorter horns. Adults attain a mass of up to 270Kg. and can live to about 15 years. Roan have noticeably large pointy ears which are usually seen in the field before noticing their red-brown coat. Facial markings are black and white similar to that of a gemsbuck. The Afrikaans name for a roan is actually “Baster gemsbuck” which when directly translated is hybrid gemsbuck. The roan is however not related to the gemsbuck in any way.
While Roan do not have fixed territories, dominant males will exclude others for up to a 500mile radius around their herd. Herds consist of anywhere from five to 40 females and younger members. When two adult males encounter each other in the presence of females they will fight for dominance by brandishing their horns. The younger males which are evicted from the herd will associate and form bachelor groups of up to 12 members. Amongst these young males, the most dominant will be first in line to join a new group of females.
The male Roan is a big, tough animal and can be very aggressive. It is important not to be under-gunned when hunting these potentially dangerous animals. The entry levels big bore calibers such as the 375H&H or 9.3mm are ideal when going after the roan. A 338 calibre rifle will do well in an area where the animals are skittish and a longer shot may need to be taken. Roan Antelope are well known for their courage and If threatened by predators, including Lion, they will confront them.
Both the males and females carry horns but those of the male grows longer and thicker at the base. A roan male with horns above 25 inches is a good trophy. When standing Broadside the shot can be taken directly on the shoulder which will the penetrate the heart, if slightly quartering away then behind the shoulder will yield a good result. A frontal kill shot needs to be placed directly in the centre of the chest. Even after a good shot on a roan, it is wise to be prepared for a follow-up. When wounded the animal may charge and sweep his horns. Stay calm and listen to your PH or guide and your roan hunt will be one for the books.
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