Last day les­ser ku­du

SA Jagter Hunter - - NEWS - By GE­OFF WAIN­WRIG­HT

Mem­bers of the spi­ral-hor­ned an­te­lo­pe spe­cies are ne­ver e­a­sy to hunt.

T­he­re are ten spi­ral­hor­ned an­te­lo­pe spe­cies na­ti­ve to A­fri­ca. I men­ti­on just a few: ku­du, bon­go, si­ta­tun­ga, bushbuck and e­land. All are hand­so­me, wa­ry and dif­fi­cult to hunt and it was no dif­fe­rent for an A­me­ri­can client, Har­ry S­wan­son and his wi­fe, I­re­ne, w­hen they we­re look­ing for a les­ser ku­du. The S­wan­sons al­re­a­dy had a si­ta­tun­ga, ku­du and ma­ny les­ser trophies on dis­play at t­heir ho­me in Re­no w­hen they vi­si­ted Tan­za­nia w­he­re I was em­ploy­ed as a pro- fes­si­o­nal hunter by Wen­gert Win­dro­se Sa­fa­ris. It was my job to help them re­a­li­se t­heir dre­am. Our he­ad­quar­ters we­re in the tou­rist to­wn of Arusha, with a view of Mount Ki­li­man­ja­ro.

It was e­ar­ly mor­ning and still dark w­hen my crew and I ar­ri­ved at the New Arusha Ho­tel – fa­med for the mo­vie The S­nows of Ki­li­man­ja­ro, which star­red G­re­go­ry Peck and Eva Gard­ner! With me was my “mai­n­man” S­wai, a man of all tra­des, as well as my skin­ner Jack­son. Whi­le the lug­ga­ge and the clients’ two gun ca­ses we­re lo­a­ded on­to the Land Crui­ser, Har­ry and I­re­ne s­lid in­to the cab next to me.

We he­a­ded out of to­wn through de­ser­ted streets. At first, the ro­ad was pa­ved and it took us to­wards the Ke­ny­an bor­der. We stop­ped at the vil­la­ge of Mon­du­li – the na­me de­ri­ved from the ex­tinct vol­ca­no sit­ting snug in the back­ground. T­he­re we pic­ked up our ga­me scout Pa­trick. As the sun ro­se we tur­ned on­to a dirt track and he­a­ded to­wards La­ke Na­tron. The par­ched coun­try see­med to con­sist of on­ly dry thorn thic­kets. An im­pa­la ram with mag­ni­fi­cent horns sprang a­cross the ro­ad in front of us.

“Har­ry, you must s­hoot it!” I said ex­ci­ted­ly. “It’s c­lo­se to thir­ty in­ches!”

S­wai and Jack­son scram­bled to un­pack Har­ry’s .30-06. We grab­bed a wa­ter bott­le and the shoot­ing sticks. The odds we­re a­gainst us and the bree­ze not in our fa­vour. We trac­ked it for two hours, spot­ted it twi­ce, but fi­nal­ly ga­ve up. He­a­ding back for the truck, we saw mid­dens of dik-dik drop­pings and caug­ht a fleet­ing glimp­se of the­se pyg­my an­te­lo­pes. They scur­ried a­way in zig-zag le­aps, stop­ped in­si­de the thic­kets and ga­ve t­heir zik-zik a­larm call. We fi­nal­ly re­a­ched the truck at mid­day and ar­ri­ved in camp la­te that af­ter­noon.

Our tents we­re pit­ched in ty­pi­cal East A­fri­can sty­le be­low flat-top­ped a­ca­cia trees on the bank of a dry ri­ver. The staff ap­pea­red, dres­sed in smart u­ni­forms, smi­ling. They shook hands

Har­ry S­wan­son with the les­ser ku­du men­ti­o­ned in the sto­ry.

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