a lion in zimbabwe

Hunting in Zimbabwe: Legal Aspects, Tourism Attractions, and Professional Associations

By Peter Ruddle

There’s much more to hunting than pulling the trigger, especially when we’re talking about traveling to a foreign country. It’s essential to be aware of and comply with the most important legalities in the land you’re visiting, which would definitely differ from those you’re accustomed to. On the other hand, while you are there you may consider taking a side trip to see some of the tourist attractions and splendors on offer.  While my previous post about hunting in Zimbabwe dealt with the huntable species and hunting areas, this time let’s speak about laws and regulations, and finish with a few places that I recommend you or the observers who travel with you to do and visit. 

Hunting Licenses

  • Safari Operators in Zimbabwe must be registered and licensed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. 
  • Only Professional Hunters licensed in Zimbabwe may conduct hunts in Zimbabwe.
  • When booking a hunt, ask for the operator’s license number. This can be verified through Safari Operators Association Zimbabwe (Email: soaz@mweb.co.zw).
  • Operators must be in possession of a lease agreement and quota for the hunting area where they operate.
  • Hunters must be able to prove that their hunting trip was paid in foreign currency for your trophies to be released by the taxidermists after your hunt. 
  • The duration of the safari is regulated by the operator and not the government. Most safaris generally last 7, 10, 14, 18 or 21 days depending on what you are hunting. 
  • A hunting permit (known as a TR2) must be issued to each hunting client.
  • This TR2 form must be issued, signed and stamped by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management prior to the commencement of the hunt. Application for Hunting NP/CITES – Hunting Return Form and a completed NP/CITES Form 11 may be required depending on what animals you are hunting. 
  • This TR2 authorisation to hunt form also serves as a declaration of harvested game during the hunt, you’re banking form and export application permit. 
  • Ensure that you are in possession of this paperwork at all times during the course of your safari.
  • A Zimbabwe National Parks official must be present when hunting elephant, lion and leopard.   

For more information, contact Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA).

Firearms and Ammunition

A number of different airlines travel to Africa, some of which have banned the transportation of firearms on their flights. Prior to booking your ticket you need to ensure that your carrier will permit the transportation of firearms on your flight. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the latest laws and regulations for hunters traveling with firearms and ammunition as each airline and country has different regulations. We’ve written a dedicated blog on the subject where you can learn more.

Application for a temporary firearm import permit for Zimbabwe can be made on arrival at the port of entry. There is no fee for issuing a firearm permit. There is no limit to the number of firearms you may import but only a maximum of 100 rounds per firearm is permitted. It is possible to import a hunting handgun, but hunting with handguns is allowed only in certain game areas. It’s recommended to apply for the handgun import permit via your outfitter. Fully automatic rifles are forbidden; hunting (non-military design) semi-automatic rifles are possible, but it’s not advised to bring them on safari.

Minimum Equipment Required for Rifle Hunting 

Class A Game: (Elephant, Hippo and Buffalo) Minimum 9.2 mm calibre in diameter.

Class B Game: (Lion, Giraffe, Eland) Minimum 7.0mm calibre in diameter.

Class C Game: (Leopard, Crocodile, Kudu, Oryx / Gemsbok, Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Zebra, Nyala, Sable Antelope, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, etc.) Minimum 7.0mm calibre in diameter.

Class D Game: (Warthog, Impala, Reedbuck, Duiker, Steenbok, Jackal, Game Birds, etc.) Minimum 5.6mm calibre in diameter.

Black Powder Rifles: Minimum calibre .40

Bowhunting 

Bowhunting is legal in Zimbabwe. However, the hunting of pachyderms and thick skinned animals, like elephant, hippo and crocodile, with bows and arrows is no longer permitted.  Bow-hunting may only be done with compound bows. Bow-hunting with recurve bows, longbows or crossbows is not permitted unless a special permit has been issued for which the safari operator must apply for six months prior to the start of the bow hunt. This special bow-hunting permit comes at a substantial cost.

Minimum Equipment Required for Bowhunting 

Class A Game: (Elephant, Hippo and Buffalo) Bow Kinetic Energy 80ft/lbs. Arrow weight 700 grain.

Class B Game: (Lion, Giraffe, Eland) Bow Kinetic Energy 77ft/lbs. Arrow weight 695 grain. Bowheads with only two cutting edges.

Class C Game: (Leopard, Crocodile, Kudu, Oryx / Gemsbok, Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Zebra, Nyala, Sable Antelope, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, etc.) Bow Kinetic Energy 70ft/lbs. Arrow weight 618 grain. 

Class D Game: (Warthog, Impala, Reedbuck, Duiker, Steenbok, Jackal, Game Birds, etc.) Bow Kinetic Energy: 56ft/lbs. Arrow weight: 618 grains.

an elephant in zimbabwe

Trophy Export/Import Restrictions

Elephants, lions and leopards from Zimbabwe may in principle be exported. CITES I and II enhancement permits for importation of specific species are required by signatory countries to the CITES agreements. Unfortunately the EU and Australia do not always follow suit, so check with your outfitter if any of the species you would like to hunt need a CITES I or CITES II permit.  

As for the USA, the situation is complicated. In 2014 the US Fish and Wildlife Services (USF&W) announced the suspension on the import of sport hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. Under the Trump administration the USF&W tried to lift the suspension, but, after a public outcry, had to reinstall it. At the time of writing, importation of elephant hunting species from Zimbabwe is considered “on a case-by-case basis”, and some successful cases have been recorded. However, we recommend you to double-check the situation before booking a lion, leopard, or elephant hunt in Zimbabwe, making sure that you will be able to import the trophy. 

Hunting Laws in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has 3 sets of hunting laws, depending which areas you are hunting in. Listed below are some of the more important hunting laws you should be aware of when hunting in the following areas:

Zimbabwe Parks Safari Areas 

  • Hunting must take place during daylight hours – half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset. 
  • The use of electronic callers, night vision scopes, artificial lights and aircraft to assist with a safari are not permitted.
  • Vehicles may be used to reach an area but shooting from the vehicle is not permitted. 
  • All hunting must be conducted on foot and hunters must be at least 55 yards (50 m) from a vehicle before shooting at an animal. 
  • Animals may not be driven or chased with a vehicle.
  • Hunting may not take place within 440 yards (400 m) of a designated waterhole.
  • Hunting with dogs is not permitted.
  • Handgun hunting is not permitted but may be used as a backup. 
  • Bowhunting is not permitted. 

Communal and Tribal Areas

  • Safari operators operate within the bounds of the law and what they consider ethical hunting. 
  • Hunting for certain species may be conducted at night e.g. leopard, lion and bushpig. The use of electronic callers, night vision scopes and artificial light is permitted.
  • Handgun and bowhunting is permitted. 

Private Land Areas

  • The landowner sets the standards and hunting ethics for their property within the parameters of the various wildlife protection laws. In addition the safari operator may apply their own standards.
  • The hunting of nocturnal species may be conducted with an artificial light, electronic callers and night vision scopes. 
  • Hunting leopards with dogs is permitted but requires a special permit. 
  • Handgun and bowhunting is permitted. 
wild dogs chilling in a pond

Information for Travel in Zimbabwe

The visa and health information should only be used as a guideline. When making your travel arrangements ensure that you get the latest information in this regard.  All visitors to Zimbabwe need to present a valid passport, return transportation ticket and sufficient funds. 

You will be required to fill out a Currency Declaration Form to state how much currency you are bringing into the country. You will be given a copy. Upon departure you will be required to show the copy. This is an effort by the government to prevent clients from possibly taking forex out of the country on behalf of Zimbabwean residents. 

Visas

A passport and visa are required to enter Zimbabwe. Passports must be valid for at least six months upon arrival and have at least three blank pages upon each entry. Zimbabwe entry visas can be obtained online through the Department of Immigration’s e-Services website or upon arrival at any port of entry.

Health

Anyone considering travel should be aware that restrictions are subject to change at short notice, and all passengers should undertake proper research and carefully consider the necessity of their travel at this time. Visit your doctor at least a month before you travel. The following vaccinations, medicines and precautions are recommended: 

  • COVID-19. At the time of writing, unvaccinated travellers were allowed to enter Zimbabwe if they could present a negative COVID-19 test result, issued no more than 48 hours before their arrival at the border. However, this requirement is reviewed and changed from time to time.
  • Cholera: The vaccination is only required when active cases are reported.
  • Hepatitis A & B: Recommended for unvaccinated travellers.
  • Malaria: Hunters are recommended to take prescription medicine to prevent malaria.
  • Rabies: If you are bitten by a dog or other strange behaving animal while in Zambia, seek medical attention. Do not pet strange dogs.
  • Typhoid: Recommended for most travellers.
  • Yellow Fever: Required if travelling from a country with risk of YF virus transmission.

Insect repellents for biting flies, ticks and mosquitoes are provided in most camps. Ask your outfitter to brief you on the latest health information and equirements.  

Airports

Most hunters flying to Zimbabwe use either Harare (Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport – HRE), Bulawayo International Airport (Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport – BUQ) or Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) as their port of entry. In many instances this may require flying via South Africa to get there. Depending on your arrival time in Johannesburg (South Africa) you may have to overnight. If this be the case, and you’re travelling with a rifle, you will have to complete the firearm importation formalities for South Africa as well as Zimbabwe.

Hotels

For those requiring an overnight layover in Harare or Victoria Falls, both cities offer an array of exceptional hotel options.

Victoria Falls

Places to Visit and Adventure Activities

Some hunting clients, especially those travelling with family and partners use the opportunities to experience some of the local tourist destinations. Listed below are some of these popular destinations:

  • Victoria Falls:

Known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – The Smoke that Thunders and one of the seven greatest natural wonders of the world, now a declared World Heritage Site. The waterfall is nearly 2km wide and 100m high (355 feet high and over a mile long) and recognized as the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The spray can be seen from 30 km away and reaches 500 m high when at full force. In what is often called the adventure capital of Africa, there is no shortage of things to do: bunjee jumping, a giant cable swing, canoeing, white water rafting, kayaking, helicopter rides, sunset cruises and ample opportunities to shop for local made crafts. 

  • National Parks

You may be game viewed out by the time you complete your safari, however the country has some fantastic National Parks. 

  • Lake Kariba

This water wilderness and wildlife paradise is a laid-back holiday playground with a wide choice of activities ideal for families, a hot, tropical climate, fantastic Tiger fishing, lots of boating choices, houseboats, motor boating, sailing and water sports and wildlife and safari opportunities second to none.

For the more adventurous try a ferry trip from Mlibizi to Kariba. 

  • Great Zimbabwe

This Stone Age medieval city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe is thought to have been the capital of a great kingdom built in the 9th century and abandoned in the 15 century. 

  • Matobo (Matopos) Hills 

If you have time and in the Bulawayo area, a visit to this area is highly recommended. These granite kopjes and wooded valleys make for some spectacular scenery.   

For more information visit Wild Zambezi Travel Guide

zimbabwe leopard

Professional Hunting Associations

Should you require more information about hunting in Zimbabwe or wish to get an association member’s reference, you can contact the following associations: 

Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association (Z.P.G.A.)  

Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association (ZPGA) is dedicated to maintain the highest standards of professionalism amongst their members and are committed to the long term management and utilization of wildlife. However it is important to mention that Zimbabwe’s hunting outfitters, hunting guides, master hunting guides, bowhunting guides and professional hunters are not required to be members of ZPGA to conduct hunting safaris. 

The primary objective of this association is to lobby policymakers into making sound policy on conservation of our wildlife and habitat as the first priority. Not only for this generation, but for the long term sustainability of future generations. Secondly, our aim is to maintain the highest standard of professionalism amongst our members, and ensure they are committed to the long term management of our wildlife resources. They are committed to the training and education of our future guides in the industry both in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole, through a number of well-established and new projects. Within this site you will find news and views, lists of members and other useful information regarding the association and Zimbabwe in general.

For more information visit https://zpga.org/

Safari Hunting Operators Association of Zambia (SHOAZ) 

Safari operators in Zimbabwe are required to be registered and licenced by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Whether you’re considering a hunting or photographic safari, it’s your professional hunter or guide who can ‘make or break’ your experience. Furthermore, your safety may often depend on their knowledge and training. Zimbabwe has particularly rigorous regulations in this respect, and all tour operators who offer these safaris are obliged by law to employ licensed professional hunters or guides. These guides and hunters have to undertake a two-year ‘apprenticeship’ in the field, and must pass several practical and written tests before being granted a licence by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. For more information visit https://ophaa.org/

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