Lechwe Hunting

Lechwe are stocky and long-horned antelope which always live on the edge of water. Lechwe are members of the kobus family which also includes the waterbuck, kob antelope and puku.

Technically there are 2 kinds of lechwe. The common lechwe which includes 3 subspecies - red lechwe, black lechwe and Kafue lechwe. The other type of lechwe is the Nile or Mrs. Gray's lechwe which is entirely separate from the others.

"We discovered an entirely new species of antelope, called lèchè or "lechwi". It is a beautiful water-antelope of a light brownish yellow colour. Its horns - exactly like those of the Aigoceros ellipsiprymnus, the waterbuck, or "tumoga" of the Bechuanas - rise from the head with a slight bend backwards, then curve forwards at the points. The chest, belly, and orbits are nearly white, the front of the legs and ankles deep brown. From the horns, along the nape of the withers, the male has a small mane of the same yellowish colour with the rest of the skin, and the tail has a tuft of black hair." William Cotton Oswell on discovering the red lechwe.

Lechwe Trophy Minimums

  • Rowland Ward has an additional record category for introduced lechwe.
  • SCI refers to the Kafue lechwe as the Kafue Flats lechwe.
Kobus leche leche (Red Lechwe)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
26" 35" 7 58" 795/8" 1
Kobus leche kafuensis (Kafue Lechwe)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
297/8" 37" 7 68" 884/8" 1
Kobus leche smithemani (Black Lechwe)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
217/8" 311/2" 7 55" 718/8" 1
Kobus megaceros (Nile, Mrs Gray's Lechwe)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
28" 341/4" 7 64" 824/8" 1

Where To Hunt A Lechwe

  • You may hunt a red lechwe in the Caprivi region of Namibia, Zambia and as an introduced animal in South Africa where they seem to thrive without a watery environment. They are native to Botswana but may not be hunted there since the hunting ban on public land.
  • You can hunt a black lechwe in the southern Bangewelu swamp region of Zambia, usually as a short add-on hunt.
  • The Kafue lechwe can be hunted in the Kafue Flats region and the floodplains of the Kafue River of Zambia.
  • The Nile or Mrs Gray's lechwe found on the flood plains of the Sudan and south-west Ethiopia, has been classified as endangered by the IUCN (not by USF&W or CITES) and cannot be currently hunted in Ethiopia. A few game ranches in South Africa may have introduced Nile lechwe populations and you can hunt them in the USA.

Lechwe Hunting Prices

  • In Namibia a wild red lechwe can be hunted for a trophy fee of between US$3850 and US$5500. They are sometimes offered in Caprivi package hunts, teamed up with a hippo or other animal.
  • In South Africa you can hunt an introduced red lechwe for a trophy fee of between US$2500 and US$3900. There are also all-inclusive package hunts which feature lechwe on the list - for example US$6000 for an 8 day hunt. There are even occasional lechwe management hunts offered where a female costs US$450 and a non-trophy male costs US$650.
  • In Zambia, you can hunt a black lechwe as a short add-on hunt to the Bangewelu swamp. These are frequently priced as an all-in hunt including the black lechwe trophy fee and a sitatunga, should you want one of these too. An air charter is usually required, the cost of which will be extra. The trophy fee on a black lechwe is between US$2700 and US$4500. The Kafue lechwe can be hunted for a trophy fee of about US$3500. Again this hunt is usually offered as a short add-on expedition to the Kafue Flats.

Lechwe Hunting Methods

  • Walking and stalking the habitat at peak activity times in the early morning and late afternoon.
  • Hunting lechwe can be quite a challenge. In a wild herd living close to water, trying to sort out the best trophy and keeping your eye on him as they mill around or take flight into the water. You may need to be prepared to take a fairly long shot as they have a habit of pausing to watch a pursuer just out of a comfortable range. In a wilderness swamp area you will need to expect to get wet and often have to retrieve your lechwe from the water.
  • If hunting introduced lechwe on a game ranch, you won't necessarily have to contend with a large herd or the water so it will be much like hunting any African antelope.

A Good Lechwe Trophy

  • Look for thick bases and a wide flare before the horns curve forward.

Lechwe Hunting Shot Placement

Lechwe Male Vital Statistics

Lechwe Male Vital Statistics
  Red Lechwe Black Lechwe Kafue Lechwe Nile Lechwe
Shoulder Height40-44"

Lechwe Habitat and Requirements

  • All lechwes are very at ease in the water and are regularly seen grazing in shoulder-deep water.
  • They are good swimmers, but prefer to wade while walking on boggy ground.
  • On solid land, their long, soft hooves are a disadvantage.
  • Therefore, as seasonal floods occur, herds move in with the water, grazing on the periphery of the floodplain.
  • Generally, females and their young are found in the wetter areas, with males (whether solitary or in bachelor herds) inhabiting the drier zones.

Lechwe Social Structure

  • Lechwe may occur in small herds of between 5 - 15 female animals with a single male.
  • Like the kob, when the population density increases, they form a breeding 'leks' when hundreds of animals congregate in the area for mating opportunities.

Lechwe Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 7 - 8 months, one offspring is born.

Lechwe Gender Identification

  • Males generally darken with age.
  • The swept back horns are found only in males

Lechwe Image Gallery

Click Images To Enlarge
Red Lechwe
Red Lechwe

Black Lechwe
Black Lechwe

Kafue Lechwe
Kafue Lechwe

Nile Lechwe
Nile / Mrs Gray's Lechwe

Lechwe Trophy Permits (2015)

  • All lechwe, Kobus leche, subspecies are classified as CITES II.
  • USF&W classifies only the red lechwe as 'Threatened'.
All Lechwe
CITES II CITES II Export Permit Annex B CITES Export Permit CITES II Export Permit

Lechwe Trophy Taxidermy

  • Lechwe are most commonly displayed as shoulder mounts or skull mounts.
  • Don't forget to tell your taxidermist not to blacken and polish the horns, if you want the horns to look natural.
Click images to enlarge
Lechwe Half Mount Lechwe Shoulder Mount Lechwe Shoulder Mount Lechwe Skull Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

What About The Name?

  • Lechwe is a word of Bantu origin meaning an antelope.
  • The red lechwe is named for it's red colour.
  • The Kafue lechwe, Kobus leche kafuensis, is named after the location it is found in - the Kafue Flats and river basin.
  • The black lechwe, Kobus leche smithemani, was named after a Mr F Smitheman who obtained a flatskin of a black lechwe in the Lake Mweru district of what was Barotseland in 1899. Now this region would be the upper Zambezi River and the surrounding higher ground of the plateau of western Zambia.
  • The Nile lechwe or Mrs Gray's lechwe, Kobus megaceros is the isolated lechwe subspecies of Sudan and Ethiopia, named after the river Nile floodplain where it was found. Mrs Gray was Maria Emma Gray whose husband, John Edward Gray, was the Keeper of Zoology at the British Museum. She was actively involved with her husband's work, producing her own books on molluscs. In 1859 Mr Gray originally named this lechwe Kobus maria after his wife, but he found Austrian zoologist M T von Heuglin had already named it Kobus megaceros (megaceros means big horn) in 1857. Despite this, the name Mrs Gray's lechwe has always been used.

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