Safari hunting in Zimbabwe is a thrilling activity that brings one face-to-face with Africa’s wildlife.
Located in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe shares its borders with Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique. The good climatic conditions, with mild winter temperatures ranging from 5°C to 20°C, put Zimbabwean sport hunting among the best in the region. Hunting is conducted between April and October; rains are usually expected from late November to March, making it impossible to hunt during this period.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) is the custodian of all wildlife in Zimbabwe; as such, it plays a regulatory role in ensuring sustainable wildlife utilization within the country’s hunting industry. ZPWMA is also responsible for awarding hunting concession areas, allocation of annual hunting quotas, issuing hunting and fishing permits, issuing permits for the movement of wildlife and wildlife products; it also conducts some hunting safaris.
The ZPWMA is also the examining and licensing body for Zimbabwean Professional Hunters and Guides. The objective is to ensure that principles of fair chase are upheld during all hunting safaris.
Areas in which hunting is permitted in Zimbabwe include:
- State land that includes:
- Zimbabwe Parks safari areas
- Forest areas
- Private land conservancies
- Communal areas under the CAMPFIRE program that seeks to afford rural communities that live adjacent to wildlife areas to benefit from the proceeds accruing from sustainable utilization of the resource.
There are sixteen (16) designated safari areas in Zimbabwe, including Charara, Hurungwe, Sapi, Chewore, Dande, Doma, Chegutu, Umfurudzi, Chirisa, Sengwa, Malipati, Tuli, Chete, Sibilobilo, Deka and Matetsi. Most safari areas are big-game areas where Africa’s Big Five are present, while others only have plains game.
In addition to elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo (rhinoceros is protected and cannot be hunted), the following species are available for hunting in Zimbabwe: hippopotamus, crocodile, giraffe, zebra, bushbuck, duiker, eland, grysbok, impala, klipspringer, kudu, waterbuck, nyala, cheetah, reedbuck, sable, steenbok, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, civet, genet, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, wild cat, bushpig, porcupine, warthog, spring hare, chacma baboon, vervet monkey, as well as game birds including pigeon, duck, goose, francolin, sand grouse and guineafowl.
Safari operators are required to be registered and licensed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and can also be registered with the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.
Prospective hunters should ensure that they familiarize themselves with the following documents that are, and/or, may be required before, during, and after the period the hunt:
- NP/CITES Form 11
- Firearms import permit
- Tourism Return Form 2 (TR2)
Some popular hunting areas in Zimbabwe include the Matetsi complex (home of the black-maned lion and popular for its large sable population) and the Zambezi Valley (popular for its large herds of buffalo). The Matetsi complex offers hunts from outfitted safari lodges. The price of the hunt includes trophy fees, daily rates, and other services such as laundry. The Zambezi Valley offers packaged hunting bags that are usually auctioned in March every year. Clients are expected to provide their own tented camping facilities for the duration of their hunts.
The African elephant and crocodile (CITES Appendix II) and leopard and cheetah (CITES Appendix I) are all hunted subject to strict CITES conditions. Hunters should ensure that they export such species with the requisite export permit, completed TR2 form and CITES tags, and any other requirements from the recipient country.
Prospective hunters are allowed to temporarily import firearms for use during their hunts. For big game such as buffalo, lion, elephant and hippopotamus, the minimum caliber required by law is .375 (9.3mm) H&H Magnum; a minimum of .300 (7mm) is recommended for leopard and most large antelope. Temporary importation of firearms and ammunition is allowed subject to obtaining a temporary import license at the port of entry.