By André Roux


This is hunting in its purist distillation; there are no short cuts, no ifs or buts, you either love it or you hate it. He lives where only a handful of professional hunters make a living out of hunting him, and only they will take you into the most remote parts of Africa to hunt for the lord of all antelope.

The giant eland stands 6 foot 2 inches at the shoulder, he weighs 2 000 pounds and has about four foot of rugged spiral horn on his head. He is fawn-coloured with vertical white stripes on his body, and he has surprisingly small feet for such a giant – but then he is as nimble as an impala. He has four black-and-white socks on his feet and a black elbow garter. He has a neck like a wine barrel, a black mane like a lion, a huge Roman nose, covered in coarse black hair, eyes like an Egyptian princess, a dewlap that stretches from his chin to the base of his neck and nearly halfway to the ground, lined with a white strip of hair at the base. When he puts his feet down, there is a visible indentation in the ground. He can feed up to nine feet off the ground, and will break trees the thickness of a big man’s arm.

He is the most magnificent creature in Africa; he is the king of all antelope, the lord of the savannah and he is the Central African giant eland – the most sought-after trophy in Africa today, the most elusive antelope of all.
The trophy hunter who seeks to hunt him has to travel to the heart of darkest Africa, to the savannah region of Central Africa, where roads are few, and hunting camps basic. Note that I say, hunt him, not shoot him, for it is only the most dedicated sportsmen and women that can boast a trophy like him.
This is hunting in its purist distillation; there are no short cuts, no ifs or buts, you either love it or you hate it. He lives where only a handful of professional hunters make a living out of hunting him,

and only they will take you into the most remote parts of Africa to hunt for the lord of all antelope.
21 years of my life I have spend in pursuit of him, and hunting giant eland is, in my opinion, some of the finest hunting one can do in Africa today. It is pure hunting, on foot – you against him, and often you have to dig deep in your bag of experience to win against him.
I started hunting in Central Africa in the late 1980s, in the eastern part of CAR, on the border with Sudan and Zaire. The area we hunted was about 12 000 km2 in size. Roads were few and very bad as all tracks were hewn by hand, cut open in virgin bush.
A typical hunting day back then would start at 3 am in the morning. Quick breakfast and then off to get to an area where one can expect to find eland. One has to remember that eland will not live in all parts of a hunting concession. They are quite particular about their areas and will normally stay within their range.
Once you get to where you can expect them, you start to carefully look for tracks or any sign of them. If you don’t find any sign on the road, you stop the car and then continue on foot. Very often a fresh track is only found during the late morning. Then the tracking starts in all earnest despite the 100°F heat at that time of the day. You will by all accounts now be many miles away from where you left your vehicle but that is of little importance. The wind will start to play havoc with you, as normally during the middle of the day it tends to go in every direction. The main thing is to stick to the track. Do not try to anticipate their direction; you will lose the whole day. As one gains experience in

hunting, you will learn that there are ways to read the wind and use what seems to be a bad wind to your advantage.
Often after following eland for the whole day, we were too far away from the car to return, so we just slept there on the track. Ready to continue the next morning. You are there to hunt, nothing else matters.
I can recall many a great hunt for these elusive creatures. Hunts that sometimes lasted for 18 days or more just to get one. One that comes to mind was during the early 1990s. I was hunting with an American client on a 21-day safari. We hunted hard every day, and eventually got one on the very last day. The next morning as we were waiting for the plane, which was also bringing in the next hunters, he asked me to let him know how long it took the next hunter to get his eland. Well, as lady luck would have it, we got one the very next day, after picking up fresh tracks early the morning. But that was the nature of those safaris. I can also remember the odd hunt where we did not get one. You can see them every day but still go home without one. That’s why these hunts are so special. Nothing is guaranteed.
I have already written an article about the basic hunting techniques for eland, so I will not go into that again. One thing I have always believed in is that the possibility of a kill at the end of a hunt, brings an intensity of the senses that is not available on a non-shooting stalk. Thirst, fatigue and even pain are ignored during a hunter’s chase for one of these magnificent animals, much as they would be during the heat of battle.
Solitary bulls were often the most challenging to hunt. Not having the burden of a herd with calves, they are free to roam as

much as it pleases them. On many a hunt we have been completely out-walked by them – sometimes to such an extent that we never even set eyes on them. They are truly the great wanderers of the bush.
Through the years I have had the pleasure of getting some really great trophies. Once during a safari in the north of CAR, on the Chad border, I saw a really magnificent bull with a herd. As the hunter with me had already shot one, I made a mental note for the next hunt.
During the following safari we hunted hard for this herd, without finding any sign of them. As I had turned down a few really nice bulls, the hunter was becoming very agitated with me to say the least. But I persisted, and just like a story with a happy ending, we did get him. He had everything you can wish for in an eland trophy. He had a huge neck, pitch-black mane, the big Roman nose and he turned out well over 50”. Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself and persist and not yield to the demands of others. That’s where digging into that bag of experience that I talked about, comes in.
Marc Watts, a hunter from Chicago, took the biggest eland I have ever seen in my life. This is a short recap of his hunt in 2007:
The eland was tracked in 100-degrees heat, throughout the early morning to early afternoon. In all we stalked the herd for more than 6 hours. Keep in mind that this was not the first day we were tracking them. It was the second last day of a 14-day hunt and we had been up on eland every day, with no luck on getting a shot.
By mid-morning the herd was really nervous and kept trotting off. The only thing to do was to just let them be for a half-hour and then resume the hunt. There was no giving up today; failure was not an option we had.
Hunting a herd the size of 60+ eland is no small feat, believe me. You can see the big bulls in there but to get a client positioned for a good shot is not easy. We tried to cut them off a few times, but to no avail. It was now the hottest part of the day and we sensed that the herd wanted to bed down. They slowed down and I knew this was our chance.
We made the perfect stalk, sweat bees covering our faces, and then this big bull gave us a small window of opportunity. I got Marc on the sticks and he made the perfect shot.
Only after the adrenaline had slowed down did we realize just how big the eland really was.
He measured out at 56½” and on top of it all he was the perfect specimen: big black neck, Roman nose, the whole works.
I have forgotten how many thousands of kilometres I have walked behind these magnificent creatures, but I can assure you every step was worth it. I possess memories I would not exchange for all the wealth and distinction the world can give. ASM