Waterbuck Hunting

Waterbuck is a much sought after large plains game antelope found in most parts of Africa. The common waterbuck has a large elliptical ring around the rump while the defassa subspecies have a solid white rump patch.

Waterbuck is a member of the kob antelope family with originally over 37 recognised subspecies - nearly every early African explorer or hunter found a different coloured waterbuck and thought it was a new subspecies. Modern science has since decided all waterbuck (defassa and common) are the same species, frequently interbreeding where ranges overlap such as in Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.

However, Rowland Ward and SCI maintain records for the common waterbuck and the various defassa waterbuck found in specific locations.

Waterbuck Trophy Minimums

Kobus ellipsiprymnus (Common, Ringed Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
28" 391/4" 7 67" 937/8" 1
Kobus defassa unctuosus (Sing-Sing Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
27" 361/4" 7 N/A 85" 1
Kobus defassa defassa (Typical, East African Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
27" 35" 7 64" 877/8" 1
Kobus defassa ugandae (Ugandan Defassa Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
337/8" 391/4" 7 N/A N/A 1
Kobus defassa crawshayi (Rhodesian, Crawshay's Defassa Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
25" 311/4" 7 55" 773/8" 1
Kobus defassa penricei (Angolan Defassa Waterbuck)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
24" 361/8" 7 63" 755/8" 1

Where To Hunt A Waterbuck

  • You can hunt a common waterbuck, the one with a ring around the rump, in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and in central and east Tanzania, including the Selous.
  • You can hunt a defassa waterbuck, the one without a ring around the rump, in a wide swathe of African savanna from the west coast across to South Sudan. In Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and CAR, the waterbuck is known as the Sing-sing defassa.
  • At the CAR/South Sudan border, the Sing-sing defassa changes into the typical or East African defassa waterbuck. So if you are hunting a waterbuck in Uganda, north and west Tanzania or Ethiopia, it will be the East African defassa. Except, if you were intending to enter a record-breaking East African defassa into the Rowland Ward book (not SCI) it just might be a Ugandan defassa. The Ugandan defassa technically occurs west of the Ethiopian highlands, through South Sudan and Uganda into west Tanzania.
  • The waterbuck you can hunt in most of Zambia is likely to be a Crawshay's defassa except in the far south where it overlaps with the common waterbuck.
  • The Angolan waterbuck is no longer huntable.

Which Waterbuck Is Which?

The common and defassa waterbucks are quite similar in appearance. The main difference is the rump ring on the common waterbuck and the solid white patch on the rump of the defassa waterbuck. The common waterbuck is slightly taller, generally has slightly longer horns and is usually a grey-brown colour.

The defassa waterbuck colour varies from a dark black-brown to a light sand colour depending on the location.

Click images to enlarge
Common Waterbuck
Common Waterbuck

Defassa Waterbuck
Defassa Waterbuck

Waterbuck Hunting Prices

  • In Benin, the Sing-sing defassa waterbuck has a trophy fee of between 800 Euros and 2000 Euros.
  • In Burkina Faso, the Sing-sing defassa waterbuck trophy fee starts at 365 Euros and goes up to 460 Euros.
  • In Cameroon, the Sing-sing waterbuck is usually available as a Group B animal on a savanna hunt. The trophy fee is a standard 900 Euros.
  • In CAR, the trophy fee for a Sing-sing waterbuck is between 1000 Euros and 1500 Euros.
  • In Ethiopia the trophy fee for the typical or East African defassa waterbuck is US$1000.
  • In Tanzania, both the common and defassa waterbucks can be hunted on a 16 and 21 day licence. The Government trophy for both waterbucks is US$800. With added Community Development/anti-poaching fees, the total trophy fee will be between US$920 and US$1500.
  • In Uganda the trophy fee for an East African/Uganda defassa waterbuck is from US$1300 up to US$2000.
  • In Zambia, the Crawshay's defassa waterbuck has a trophy fee ranging from US$1600 to US$2500. The common waterbuck is slightly less at between US$1100 and US$2100.
  • In Botswana, you can hunt a common waterbuck on a private game ranch for a trophy fee between US$1320 and US$2000.
  • In Mozambique the non-refundable Government licence fee for the common waterbuck is between US$400 and US$1320. The additional trophy fee is between US$1500 and US$3000.
  • In Namibia the common waterbuck trophy fee is between US$2400 and US$3000.
  • In South Africa the trophy fee for a common waterbuck is between US$1200 and US$2500.
  • In Zimbabwe, the common waterbuck trophy fee starts at around US$1500 and goes up to US$2800.

Waterbuck Hunting Methods

  • Walking and stalking in the likely waterbuck habitat, which is as the name suggests, in bush close to waterholes or rivers.
  • They feed during the early morning and in the evenings, so this the best time to hunt waterbuck.
  • Be extra cautious when approaching a possibly wounded waterbuck as they can be very aggressive.

A Good Waterbuck Trophy

  • Horn length, thick bases and symmetry will all go to make a good trophy. Horn length can only really be judged from side view of the animal when you look for a long straight horn length before it curves forward.
  • The best trophy quality is generally found in solitary old bulls.

Waterbuck Hunting Shot Placement

Waterbuck Bull Vital Statistics

All the subspecies of defassa waterbuck are roughly the same shoulder height and weight.

Waterbuck Bull Vital Statistics
  Common Waterbuck All Defassa Waterbuck
Shoulder Height51-59"
130-150 cm

Waterbuck Habitat And Requirements

  • Waterbuck prefer to live close to waterholes or rivers.
  • Prefers grassland for grazing adjacent to woodland.

Waterbuck Social Structure

  • Batchelor herds of between 5 and 40 males are often found associating with female herds.
  • There is a strict ranking between the males, though the herd changes with frequent comings and goings.

Waterbuck Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 8-9 months, one offspring is born.

Waterbuck Gender Identification

  • The heavily ridged horns are found only in males and sweep in an arc backwards and upwards, with the tips pointing forwards
  • Waterbuck bulls are also heavier and taller than the cows.

Waterbuck Trophy Permits (2015)

All Waterbucks

Waterbuck Trophy Taxidermy

The waterbuck makes a splendid trophy in all taxidermy mount styles. If you are going to use a fullskin or back skin as a rug, place it in a low traffic area as the hollow waterbuck hair is quite brittle and will easily fall out with lots of use.

Click images to enlarge
Waterbuck Full Mount Waterbuck Pedestal Mount Waterbuck Skull Mount Waterbuck Rug
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

Waterbuck Recommended Reading

A Territorial Antelope: The Uganda Waterbuck

A Territorial Antelope: The Uganda Waterbuck by Clive A Spinage (1982) is a scientific study on waterbuck territories. "Prompted by the need to understand the population dynamics of wildlife in the Queen Elizabeth National Park of western Uganda, now the Rwenzori Park, the author of this book, during the years 1964-1967, undertook a comprehensive investigation of the biology and social organisation of the Ugandan waterbuck. The book is directed at both professional and amateur zoologists, particularly those interested in social organisation and animal behaviour".

What About The Name?

  • The common waterbuck name ellipsiprymnus refers to the elliptical rump ring.
  • The name 'defassa' is Amharic for 'antelope'.
  • Crawshay's defassa Kobus defassa crawshayi was named after Richard Crawshay (1862-1958) who was a hunter/collector and agent for the African Lakes Company based at Lake Mweru in northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.
  • The Angolan waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus penricei was named after G W Penrice who was a museum collector. He discovered the very dark coloured Angolan waterbuck 100 miles south west of Benguela.
  • The 'Sing-sing' defassa is the native name and the scientific name Kobus defassa unctuosus may refer to the oily nature of the waterbuck skin.

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