Hunting in Tanzania: General Facts, History, Where and What to Hunt

By Peter Ruddle

Quick Facts

Capital City: Dodoma
Official Language: Swahili and English

Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TSh)
Size: 947,300Km2 ( 2 x the size of California)


Historical Hunting Overview

Tanzania is one of the areas where the earliest traces of humankind are discovered, with archaeological fossil hominid finds dating back to 2 and 4 million years ago. Evidence of hunting is found from Stone to Bronze ages, and into modernity: the Hadza tribe living in northern Tanzania continue their hunter-gatherer lifestyle to this day. They have no domesticated stock and don’t grow their food, thriving mostly survive by foraging for edible plants and also hunting for food, using handmade bows and arrows.

200 years ago, before the region was appropriated by Europeans, it was the centre of the East African Arab slave trade. The first power to colonize the territory of modern Tanzania was Germany, but after the World War I German East Africa passed over to the British Empire, and was known as Tanganyika. In 1964, Tanganyika and the Zanzibar Archipelago joined to become known as Tanzania. During these turbulent years, the abundant wildlife was utilized to sustain various groups and regimes.

The safari industry can be said to have originated in the region, with private companies, known as outfitters, that provided the enterprising tourist hunters with all they needed, including a Professional Hunter who managed the “journey” – “safari” in Swahili. In 1964, the Tanganyika Wildlife Department was created to oversee hunting in the country. From 1973 to 1978 hunting was banned, but reopened under the supervision of the Tanzania Wildlife Corporation and ten years later in 1988, this administration was transferred to the Department of Wildlife.   

Hunting has prospered over the years in a country where over 15% of the country is declared as national parks, many of which are adjoining game parks with allocated hunting concession blocks. Unfortunately in some of the more marginal hunters areas, concession fees have been increased substantially, making hunting business opportunities non-sustainable, and these areas are now going under the ‘cow & plough’. However, Tanzania remains one of Africa’s premier wilderness hunting destinations. 

map of national parks and hunting areas of Tanzania
Map of game reserves, national parks, and hunting areas of Tanzania

Hunting Areas

Many well-established outfitters offer the most professional services under some very trying operating logistical circumstances. In most cases, the quickest way to reach these hunting areas is by a charter plane.  

The safari hunting industry is well regulated by the government and all hunting takes place on government-controlled or public land. Hunting can be conducted in the following areas:  

  • Game Reserves: These wildlife protected areas have restricted entry and no human habitation or activities, such as cattle grazing or wood collection are permitted without the Wildlife Management Authority’s permission. Only licensed consumptive and non-consumptive may operate in the area.

These areas include the following game reserves: Ikorongo, Kigosi, Kijereshi, Liparamba, Lukwati and Piti, Lukwika Lumesule and Msanjesi, Lwafi, Maswa, Mkungunero, Moyowosi, Rukwa, Rungwa, Kizigo and Muhesi, Selous, Swagaswaga, Ugalla River and Uwanda Game Reserves.

  • Buffer Zones: Areas surrounding the National Parks allow grazing, firewood collection, light agriculture, ecotourism and hunting to within 1km of the Park boundaries benefiting the local communities. 

These buffer zone areas may be found adjoining some of the following national parks:

Eastern Zone

  • Mikumi National Park
  • Udzungwa Mountains NP
  • Nyerere National Park

Northern Zone

  • Tarangire National Park
  • Arusha National Park
  • Mkomazi National Park
  • Lake Manyara Nat. Park
  • Kilimanjaro National Park

Western Zone

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Saanane Island Nat. Park
  • Burigi-Chato National Park
  • Gombe National Park
  • Mahale Mountains NP
  • Ibanda-Kyerwa Nat. Park
  • Rumanyika-Karagwe NP
  • Kigosi National Park
  • Ugalla River National Park

Southern Zone

  • Ruaha National Park
  • Katavi National Park
  • Kitulo National Park
  • Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs): Are a form of community based conservation areas which ensures that wildlife rich communities may offer sustainable hunting opportunities to hunting operators on community owned lands.

These areas include the following: Burunge, Ikona, Ipole, Magingo, Makame, Makao, Mbarangandu, Mbomipa, Nalika, Ngarambe-Tapika, Ukutu, Uyumbu and Wami-Mbiki Wildlife Management Areas.

  • Game Control Areas (GCA): These are areas declared for conservation of wildlife outside village land where activities detrimental to wildlife are prohibited. Prior to 2009 these areas permitted human habitation and associated pastoral grazing. These areas have since prohibited human settlements and activities.   

The main trophy hunting areas in Tanzania are mostly confined to four main regions – Western Tanzania, Northern Tanzania, Central and Southern Tanzania. Animal diversity varies between the regions, some species are only found in the swampy areas of Western Tanzania, whilst the many Masailand specials prefer the semi-arid region of the country.   

Popular Hunting Destinations 

  • Selous Game Reserve (Southern Region)

Named after the great hunter, explorer and naturalist, Frederick Courtney Selous who was killed and buried in the reserve during the First World War. This reserve is one of the largest protected game reserves on the continent, larger than Switzerland and relatively undisturbed by human impacts, a true ecological wilderness area. The general area varies from Miombo woodlands, fairly dense forests, rolling hills, riverine bush and wide-open plains with rocky outcrops. Some of Tanzania’s largest rivers flow through the Selous, these include three major sand rivers, the Namatete, Kitope and Umswega Rivers. Along with the Rufiji River, these water sources attract some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa to the region. The area is known for its huge Elephants, large herds of Buffalo, big cats, Hippos, Crocodiles, Liechtenstein Hartebeest, Nyasa Wildebeest, Roosevelt Sable and elusive Puku.

  • Rungwa Kizigo/Muhesi Game Reserve (Central Region)

Bordering the Ruaha National Park, this pristine area is characterised by open savannah, Miombo woodland, rocky mountainous areas and hills with patches of riverine forest along the interspersed rivers, streams, springs and waterholes. The southern Rungwa section is well watered by the Mpera River. The unique Itigi thicket Miombo woodland is prominent in the Kizigo Game Reserve. The region is famous for producing world-class large maned Lions, Leopard, Sable, Roan, Patterson’s Eland and Greater East African Kudu.

  • Moyowosi and Ugalla Game Reserves (Western Tanzania)

This region is known for its swampy riverine areas. The area slopes down to the west from flat-topped mountains, through rolling savannahs, Acacia and Miombo woodlands on dry ground, floodplains and islands inside the well-reeded swamp areas of Lake Sagara in the Ugalla Game Reserve. The region is only accessible during the dry season. The areas are named after the respective rivers that drain into the region, namely the Moyowosi and Ugalla Rivers. The latter is famous for producing some of Africa’s largest crocodiles, exceeding 17ft (5,20m) in length. The region offers excellent Leopard, Lion, Buffalo, Hippo, Crocodile, Sable, Roan, Kudu, Topi, Reedbuck, Bushbuck and Defassa Waterbuck. Sitatunga can be hunted from canoes or machans (elevated blinds) in the swampy areas.     

  • Masailand     

The region extends from Lake Manyara, south-westwards through the lush mist rain forest of Losimingor Mountain near Arusha down to the semi-arid areas surrounding Tarangire National Park. The bulk of the region consists mainly of Acacia bush country with great open plains, rocky outcrops and patches of thick thorn bush. Numerous Masailand species endemic to this part of Tanzania, such as Grant’s and Thompson’s Gazelle, Gerenuk, East Africa Impala, Lesser Kudu and Fringe-eared Oryx may be hunted in the region. Other game includes Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Masai Bushbuck, Kirk’s Dik-Dik, East African Bush Duiker, East African Eland, Coke’s Hartebeest, East African Greater Kudu, Ostrich, Bohor Reedbuck, Steenbuck, White Bearded Wildebeest and Bohme’s (Grant’s) Zebra.

Climate and Hunting Season

Weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable and the climate varies considerably within this large country. Hunting in the various regions is mainly affected by the rainy seasons. The country’s two rainy seasons are known as the long and short seasons. These seasons are known as:

  • The Short Dry Season – From January through February before the main rains start in March.
  • The Long Rains – From March through May. These rains are typical afternoon tropical downpours with high humidity and temperatures.
  • The Long Dry Season – From June through October and the best time to hunt in Tanzania. 
  • The Short Rains – From November through December. These rains are lighter than the main rains and less reliable.
  • The Short Dry Season – From January through February before the main rains start in March.
a tent camp in Tanzania


Most hunting camps in Tanzania make use of large safari tents and temporary structures for dining areas. Temporary camps are mandatory in some game reserves, erected before the hunting season commences and removed at the end of each year as per the government regulations.

However, more permanent structured camps can be found in Masailand. The sleeping quarters are normally large luxury insect proof canvas tents, but the dining, living and kitchen areas are often constructed from local materials where possible, which adds to the ambience.

Traditional East African safaris include all the modern day conveniences like flushing toilets, hot and cold running water, sprung beds, foam mattresses and crisp clean linen add to the list of luxuries. Camps also provide electricity, either generated by solar or generator power. Many also have WiFi connection.        

The cooks and kitchen staff provide a variety of international cuisine depending on the availability. The staff are always friendly and ready to assist with your requests. The camps are staffed with highly trained trackers, skinners, drivers, gun bearers, cooks, mess waiters, tent attendants and porters.

Available Hunting Species

Buffalo, CapeGrysbok, Sharpe’sRoan, E. African
ElephantHartebeest, Coke’sSable
LeopardHartebeest, Lichtenstein’sSable, Roosevelt
Hog, Giant Forest Sitatunga, East African
Plains GameHoney Badger (Ratel)Steenbok
Baboon, OliveHyena, SpottedSuni, East African
Baboon, YellowHyena, StripedTopi
Bushbuck, East African (Masai)*Impala, East AfricanWarthog
BushpigImpala, SouthernWaterbuck, Common
CaracalJackal, Black-backedWaterbuck, East African Defassa
Cat, African WildJackal, GoldenWildebeest, Nyasa
Cat, CivetKlipspringerWildebeest, White-bearded
Cat, GenetKudu, Greater East AfricanZebra, Burchell’s (Selous Plain)
Crocodile, Nile*Kudu LesserZebra, Bohme’s
Dik-Dik, Kirk’sMongoose, White-tailedZorilla (African Polecat)
Duiker, BlueMonkey, Blue
Duiker, East African BushMonkey, VervetBirds
Duiker Harvey’sOribiDucks
Duiker, Red (Natal)*Oryx, Fringe EaredGeese
*Eland, East African (Patterson’s)OstrichSpurfowl & Francolin (Partridge) 
Eland, LivingstonePorcupine Guineafowl
*Gazelle, Grant’sPukuPigeon
*Gazelle, Robert’sReedbuck, Chandler’s MountainDoves
*Gazelle, Thomson’s
Gerenuk, southern
Reedbuck, CommonQuail
* Unique (endemic) species only found in Tanzania and Masailand.

Continue to PART 2: Licenses, Laws, Weapons, Travel Information



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