Wildebeest Hunting

The wildebeest or gnu, as it is also known, is one tough antelope when it comes to absorbing lead. Make sure your first shot is spot on or you may have a long day chasing a wounded animal.

Wildebeest Trophy Minimums

Connochaetes taurinus taurinus (Blue, Brindled, Black-tailed Wildebeest)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
281/2" 36" 12 70" 97" 5
Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus (White-bearded Gnu/Wildebeest)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
28" 32" 12 68" 941/8" 5
Connochaetes taurinus johnstoni (Nyasa/Nyasaland Wildebeest)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
28" 331/8" 12 N/A 951/8" 5
Connochaetes gnou (Black, White-tailed Gnu/Wildebeest)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
227/8" 293/8" 13 72" 1012/8" 6
Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni (Cookson's Wildebeest)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
N/A N/A N/A 70" 945/8" 6

Where To Hunt A Wildebeest

For any hunter who is interested, there are technically only 2 species of wildebeest - the blue and the black. The blue wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus, however, has 5 subspecies...

  • Connochaetes taurinus taurinus - Blue Wildebeest, Common Wildebeest or Brindled Gnu
  • Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus - Eastern White-Bearded Gnu/Wildebeest
  • Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni - Cookson's wildebeest
  • Connochaetes taurinus johnsoni - Nyasaland Wildebeest
  • Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi - Western White-Bearded Gnu/Wildebeest

Unlike SCI, Rowland Ward does not have a separate category for the Cookson's wildebeest. Both SCI and RW make no distinction between the 2 white-bearded wildebeest.

So if you are after a wildebeest slam, here is your hunting itinerary...

  • You can hunt the common or blue wildebeest in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and most of Zambia except in the Luangwa Valley.
  • Originally native only to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, you can hunt a black or white-tailed wildebeest on game ranches not only in South Africa but Botswana and Namibia too.
  • You can hunt a Nyasaland wildebeest in south central Tanzania, including the Selous, and the Niassa region of north Mozambique.
  • The eastern white-bearded wildebeest can only be hunted in northern Tanzania, east of the Gregory Rift Valley.
  • The western white-bearded wildebeest can only be hunted in northern Tanzania, west of the Gregory Rift Valley.
  • You can hunt a Cookson's wildebeest only in the Luangwa Valley of Zambia.

Which Wildebeest Is Which?

There is no mistaking the unique black wildebeest with it's unusual forward facing hook-like horns. However they are not black but dark brown.

The various blue wildebeest subspecies are pretty similar so you have to look for their specific colour differences in parts such as white beards etc. Just to add to the mix, the various wildebeests do interbreed, so the location of the animal is your best guide.

The nyasaland wildebeest usually has a white bar across the nose but in some the bar is absent or barely discernable.

Though separated for millenia by the Gregory Rift Valley, the physical differences between the eastern and western white-bearded wildebeest are minimal. The western white-bearded wildebeest is generally slightly darker in colour and has generally shorter horns.

The Cookson's wildebeest differs from the common blue wildebeest in that it is much bigger in the body and in the horn. It may also be a slightly lighter colour than the regular blue wildebeest.

Click images to enlarge
Common Blue Wildebeest
Common Blue Wildebeest

Black Wildebeest
Black or White-Tailed Wildebeest

Nyasaland Wildebeest
Nyasaland Wildebeest

Eastern White-Bearded Wildebeest
Eastern White-Bearded Wildebeest

Western White-Bearded Wildebeest
Western White-Bearded Wildebeest

Cookson's Wildebeest
Cookson's Wildebeest

Wildebeest Hunting Prices

  • In Botswana the trophy fee for a common blue wildebeest varies between US$400 and US$900. The black wildebeest is more expensive, starting at US$950 and going up to US$2000.
  • In Namibia the common blue wildebeest has a trophy fee of between US$750 and US$1500. Female blue wildebeest may be hunted in some places for about US$390. The introduced black wildebeest carries a trophy fee of US$1250 to US$1850. Female black wildebeest are about US$650.
  • In South Africa a blue wildebeest bull has a trophy fee of between US$800 and US$1150. A female blue wildebeest has a trophy fee of about US$400. The black wildebeest is a TOPS animal and may only be hunted by a client in possession of a TOPS permit issued prior to the hunt. A trophy quality black wildebeest bull has a trophy fee of between US$800 and US$1150 - similar to the blue. A female and non-trophy (broken horn) bull has a fee of about US$400.
    Similar to many other game animals, you can hunt a colour variant blue wildebeest in South Africa, if you have the inclination and budget. The trophy fee for a golden blue wildebeest is about US$30000. A 'Kings' blue wildebeest, which is a chocolate brown colour with golden highlights, is strictly POR.
  • In Mozambique, both the blue and Nyasaland wildebeest have a non-refundable Government licence of between US$800 and US$900. The trophy fee for a blue wildebeest is between US$500 and US$1600. The Nyasaland wildebeest has a trophy fee in the range of US$2800.
  • In Tanzania you can hunt both the Nyasaland and white-bearded wildebeest on a 10, 16 or 21 day licence. The Government trophy fee for both is US$650. With the additional Community Development/anti-poaching fees, the full trophy fee for a Nyasaland wildebeest ranges from US$750 to US$1800. The white-bearded wildebeest is between US$750 and US$1500.
  • In Zambia a common blue wildebeest has a trophy fee of around US$1200. The Cookson's wildebeest of Luangwa has a trophy fee of between US$2250 and US$3500.
  • In Zimbabwe, the common blue wildebeest carries a trophy fee of between US$850 and US$1590.

Wildebeest Hunting Methods

  • Walking and stalking in the likely wildebeest habitat in the early mornings when they are grazing.
  • Wildebeest hunting can be a challenge because they are extremely alert and will hysterically dash away at the slightest perceived threat.
  • If wounded a wildebeest will often circle round, leading you back to the original point where first shot.
  • They have a substantial shoulder hump so take care not to shoot too high.

White-Bearded Wildebeest Hunt, Tanzania

A Good Wildebeest Trophy

  • With blue wildebeest, look for good bosses with a narrow gap between them. Horn length that extends past the ear tips is an indication of a good trophy.
  • A good black wildebeest trophy has horn bases that nearly touch. Looking from the front, the horns should drop below eye-level and curve back up with the tips extending well above the bosses.

Wildebeest Hunting Shot Placement

Wildebeest Bull Vital Statistics

All the subspecies of the blue wildebeest are roughly the same shoulder height and weight.

Wildebeest Bull Vital Statistics
  All Blue Wildebeest Black Wildebeest
Shoulder Height45-57"

Wildebeest Habitat And Requirements

  • Wildebeest prefer short grass in medium thick to open woodland and savannah plains.
  • The availability of surface water for daily drinking is essential.

Wildebeest Social Structure

  • Wildebeest are found in family groups of 10-150 individuals consisting of cows and calves.
  • Males form bachelor groups of young bulls and non-active dominant adult bulls.
  • The territorial breeding bulls are dominant and mostly solitary.

Wildebeest Gestation Period

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

Wildebeest Gender Identification

  • Both bulls and cows have horns with the cow horns being shorter and narrower.
  • In adult bulls the horns are heavily bossed.
  • Bulls are heavier and larger in the body than cows.

Wildebeest Trophy Permits (2015)

All Wildebeests

Wildebeest Trophy Taxidermy

Not many hunters will opt for a wildebeest full mount but they make interesting shoulder and skull mounts.

Do not forget to tell your taxidermist if you want the horns blackened or left natural.

Click images to enlarge
Blue Wildebeest Full Mount Black Wildebeest Shoulder Mount Blue Wildebeest Shoulder Mount Black Wildebeest Skull Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

What About The Name?

  • The name 'wildebeest' comes from Dutch for 'wild beast'.
  • The name 'gnu' originates from the Khoikhoi bushmen language and may refer to the sound the animal makes.
  • The scientific name Connochaetes taurinus means 'bearded mane bull' in Greek and latin.
  • The white-bearded wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus comes from the latin for white mane.
  • The Cookson's wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni is named after Harold Cookson (1876 - 1969) who was a British farmer and naturalist who lived in South Africa.
  • The Nyasaland wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus johnstoni was named after Sir Henry Hamilton Johnson (1858 - 1927) who was a British explorer, botanist and colonial administrator.
  • The western white-bearded wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi was named after Edgar Alexander Mearns (1856 - 1916) who was one of the naturalists on the Roosevelt safari.
Typical Wildebeest Intelligence

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