There are hunting opportunities in all nine provinces. South Africa holds the greatest variety of habitat on the African continent: Endless semi-desert in the Karoo and Kalahari; lush coastal bush along the Indian Ocean; high, rugged mountains; grassy plains; and, in the north, an endless sea of mopane woodland and the game list is probably the most extensive on the African continent, with a long list of indigenous rarities (like bontebok and black wildebeest saved by a few far-thinking farmers) either only found or best hunted in South Africa.

Thanks to decades of game ranching, with frenetic introductions and reintroductions, gemsbok, black and blue wildebeest, eland, zebra, hartebeest, even nyala, are now found in most areas (not necessarily on all properties). There is no area that holds all the more than fifty varieties of big game found in South Africa, but the end result is that almost any single area offers the greatest variety on the continent. Not all of those thousands of game ranches are available for safari hunting, but there are hundreds of licensed professional hunters.


South Africa was the first country in modern Africa to offer the entire Big Five, but all dangerous game hunting is fairly limited. White rhino, though costly, are widespread. Elephant are generally restricted to the Kruger Park corridor, as are South Africa’s very few wild lions. In recent years there has been an active industry in captive-reared lions, a most controversial subject. The rules are changing, and this activity will change, but it’s probably fair to state that anyone contemplating a lion hunt in South Africa should be very sure of what he or she is getting involved in. The primary buffalo herds are in and around Kruger National Park, but this is changing as South African operators and game ranchers work ever more aggressively to breed disease-free buffalo. Available numbers are small and costs are thus high, but genetics are spectacular. Some of Africa’s largest leopards are well distributed in the north and hunting is difficult. A few hunters come to South Africa for dangerous game, but more are drawn by her many rarities.

Established: 1994, Republic of South Africa (majority rule)
Formerly: Union of South Africa (1910-1961), Republic of South Africa (1961-1994)
Area: 1,221,045 sq. km.
Population: 44,187,637 (2009)
Primary Access: Commercial air, Johannesburg; road and internal commercial air to hunting areas.
Elevation: Low: Sea level (Indian Ocean) High: 3408 m (Njesuthi)
Language: English (official)
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR) 1 ZR = .12 U.S. Dollar (July 2009)
Hunting Season: Year-round. (Many areas only practical during dry season May-October)
Firearms Permit: Obtained in advance or upon entry. If the latter, recommend obtain forms and fill them out. Forms and instructions available at the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) website at: