Page Updated: Apr 2020
Hunting in Zambia has had an erratic history with it being banned and reinstated several times over the last decades...
- Elephant hunting was banned in Zambia in 1982.
- Zambian elephants populations were up-listed to CITES Appendix I in 1989.
- In 2001, all hunting (on public land) was banned by the President, with the existing Game Management Areas (GMAs) having their licences revoked.
- In 2002, after the elections, the hunting concessions were put up for tender but only allocated in 2003. Elephant hunting remained suspended.
- In 2004, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) successfully applied to CITES that the ivory taken from the 20 elephant was allowed to be exported to CITES signatory countries. Their application to downlist Zambian elephants to Appendix II was denied.
- So in 2005 to 2013, ZAWA issued an annual quota of 20 bull elephants for sport hunting by foreign clients in 3 GMAs.
- In 2013, Zambia banned hunting yet again, including elephant hunting, on public land, this time for a year, to take stock of it's wildlife areas with proper game counts. The ban on lion and leopard hunting was to be permanent due to depleted numbers of these cats.
- In 2014, the hunting ban was lifted, including for elephant, leaving the ban on lion and leopard hunting in place.
- In 2015, the ban on hunting lion and leopard was lifted, with lion hunting resuming in the 2016/2017 season and leopard hunting in 2015. Thus, hunting in Zambia is fully open...at the moment!
"Game animals are tenacious and the hunting areas are vast. The safari operators are progressive and the wildlife authority is still interested. Zambia has all the ingredients to become Africa's finest safari-hunting destination."
Read more about hunting in Zambia from PH Andrew Baldry
Zambia Hunting Season
- There is no set hunting season. May to October is optimal time to hunt, based on the weather.
- There are 3 distinct weather seasons
- Dry - May to August 24-28°C
- Hot - September to November 38-42°C
- Wet - December to April 32°C
Zambia Current Weather Forecast
Zambia Hunting Areas Map
In Zambia, hunting can be conducted within the wilderness Game Management Areas (GMAs) or on private ranches or conservancies, many of which are huge, unfenced and close to the boundaries of GMAs or Parks.
There are approximately 36 GMAs which are mainly clustered around National Parks and were intended to act as buffer zones. They are communally owned lands in which some wild animals are protected and used primarily for regulated hunting with a few photographic safari blocks. GMAs are classified by ZAWA according to their game numbers and location which dictates the amount of concession fees. However these classifications are not cast in stone as far as reality is concerned, with areas improving (or deteriorating) over time.
- Prime GMAs have abundant species including high dollar animals such as lion, leopard, roan and sable. They can accommodate 5 or more 'classical' safaris and seven or more 'mini' safaris per hunting season. A 'Classical Safari' is the term used for the long duration full-bag hunting licence which include lion, leopard, roan and sable as well as many other species, with elephant where permitted. A 'Mini Safari' is the term used for a short hunting licence which limits the hunter to seven animals, including Cape buffalo but excluding lion, leopard, roan and sable.
- Secondary GMAs have less abundant species but that generally can accommodate 3 or 4 'classical' and at least 5 'mini' safaris per hunting season.
- Specialized GMAs are wetland areas where any of the special species occur such as black lechwe, Kafue lechwe, sitatunga and tsessebe. These GMAs can be used by any safari operator with clients who want to hunt any of these animals. A special short licence must be obtained for these GMAs.
- Understocked GMAs may have most of the huntable species available but the populations are sparse or fragmented.
- Depleted GMAs have very few hunting species available.
Click map to enlarge
Zambia Game Management Areas (in pink)
Getting To Your Hunt Area In Zambia
There are several options available to get to your hunt area in Zambia. Most hunters will fly to Johannesburg and take an onward flight to Livingstone or Lusaka where they will be met and assisted with rifle import. Alternatively British Airways has a direct flight from London to Lusaka.
Your journey to your hunting camp will be by road, or air charter.
Hunting Accommodation In Zambia
The majority of wilderness hunting camps in Zambia are composed of large safari tents with other temporary structures serving as dining areas. In private ranch areas, there will usually be permanent lodges with chalets and all mod-cons.
Zambia Hunting Terrain
Zambia is a high plateau bounded by river systems. The diverse terrain includes riverine woodlands, vast swamps and extensive flood plains.
There is lots of water in Zambia with the Zambezi river and the major tributaries, the Kafue and Luangwa rivers. There are also three great lakes - Bangweulu, Mweru and the southern end of Lake Tanganyika.
Zambia Hunting Licence
- All foreign hunters must hunt with a registered safari company that has been granted the rights to hunt in a specific hunting block which will have its own specific animal quota. Only legitimate outfitters will be able to get your firearms permit and trophy export permits. Beware of any operators offering dodgy cheap hunts, misusing a resident's hunt permit.
- When your hunt outfitter applies for your hunting licence, he receives a computer print-out adjusting his animal quota. This is passed to the Licensing Officer who shall draft the game licence, after which payment is made.
- A hunting licence is issued for a specific number of species in specific hunting areas.
- The minimum number of days for a hunting safari is strictly controlled by the Government and based upon the species being hunted.
- Combinations of these licences are available so different species may be hunted in different areas.
- A separate permit must be issued for each individual hunting client.
- Hunting permits must be issued prior to the hunt commencing. During his hunt, the client must carry his original game licence(s) and GMA permit(s). The animal quota computer print-out is given to the Game Scout at the start of the hunt. At the end of the hunt, the client, PH and Game Scout must sign a form ZAWA 14, which is like a PH register, detailing the client's licences and the animals successfully hunted by the client. The trophy export permit can only then be issued.
Hunting Licence Options
Mini Hunting Licence for a 7 day hunt which can include a buffalo and/or plains game, quota limit of 7 plains game species.
Special Hunting Licence for 5-7 day hunt for the lechwes and sitatunga. These hunt costs are usually bundled into a package which may include the trophy fees of these animals and extra travel day costs to get to the wetland hunt area. These hunts may be done as an extension hunt to a classical licence.
Classical Hunting Licence for long duration full-bag hunts, including lion, leopard, roan and sable. These licences are usually re-arranged by individual outfitters into various hunt lengths and key animal quota. There are many permutations available from different outfitters in Zambia, but for example...
- 10 day hunt minimum for sable or roan + quota limit of 10 plains game species.
- 14 day hunt minimum for leopard + unlimited quota of plains game species.
- 18 day hunt minimum lion + unlimited quota of plains game species.
- 21 to 28 day hunt minimum for lion and/or a leopard + unlimited quota of plains game species.
When hunting in a GMA, all licence fees for animals selected at time of booking must be purchased prior to commencement of the hunt and are non-refundable.
Zambia Hunting Laws
- All trophy hunting to take place within the hours of daylight.This means 1 half-hour after sunset and 1 half-hour before sunrise.
- No hunting is allowed at night or with artificial light.
- Hunting female animals which are apparently pregnant or accompanied by dependent young, young and/or immature animals is prohibited.
- Shooting from a vehicle is not permitted. You must not discharge a firearm within 250m distance from a motorised vehicle, boat or aircraft.
- Baiting prior to the start of the hunt is not permitted. Bait animals must be part of the licence quota.
- There is no minimum calibre requirement for plains game.
- Minimum calibre requirement is .300 for dangerous game such as leopard and lion.
- Minimum calibre requirement for big dangerous game (elephant, buffalo etc) is .375
Zambia Hunting Species
Zambia Hunting Trophy Export/Import Restrictions
Elephant populations from Zambia are CITES I and classified as 'Threatened' by USF&W so requiring an enhancement permit to import trophies into the US. The EU has revised its previous negative opinion on Zambia's elephant populations and allows elephant hunting trophies to be imported with a CITES I import permit.
Hunting Zambia Recommended Reading
Hunting In Zambia by Tony Sanchez-Arino (1997). Writings on big game hunting in Zambia by Selous, Foa, Gibbons, Wallace, Lyell, Letcher, Shorthose, Stewart, Atcheson and many others.
Siatwinda by Joe McGregor-Brooks (2008) is a well-written account of a life as a professional hunter in Zambia. His fifty years of hunting problem crocodile, buffalo and elephant in the Zambezi Valley of Zambia.
Eighteen Years On Lake Bangweulu by J E Hughes (1920) is a scarce work of hunting and adventure with great detail of the area, which is today, Zambia. Hughes explored and hunted around Lake Bangweulu and the rivers Chambesi and Luapula. There are numerous hunting incidents, particularly after elephant, lion, buffalo, hippopotamus and rhinoceros, with cheetah bagged near the Luena River. In addition, eland, sable, puku, sitatunga, warthog and other game was collected.
Hunting Zambia Recommended Viewing
Death In The Mumbwa DVD. Hunting Zambia - from the cats to the unique plains game and a buffalo hunt that you must see to believe. This DVD also contains footage from the Kafue Flats and Bangwelu Swamps where the Kafue and black lechwe, tsessebe and the sititunga are taken.
Zambia Safari: Buffalo & Roan DVD by Ken Wilson includes the hunting of 4 cape buffalo plus 2 Southern roan and Crawshay's waterbuck, Chobe bushbuck and puku. Footage is shown of Livingstone, Mukuni Village and Victoria Falls, as well as numerous species of big game and birds not hunted. 60 minutes. DVD.
Zambia Safari: The Bangweulu Swamps DVD by Ken Wilson. The black lechwe is only found in the Bangweulu Swamps and this hunt ends with a 26" animal. Then the hunt begins for one of Africa's greatest trophies, the Zambezi sitatunga. 55 minutes. DVD.
Hunting Zambia Resources
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