What Kudu Is That? (Cape, Southern Greater, or… ?)

Record Greater Kudu darted and measured

Is that iconic amazing spiral-horned antelope a Southern Greater Kudu or a Cape Kudu?

Both belong to the Greater Kudu group originally separated by their geological location. The Cape Kudu, as implied by its name is predominantly located in the Eastern Cape.

The Southern Greater Kudu can be hunted in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, the Southern Greater Kudu’s home range extends through the Thornveld and Bushveld regions of the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces.  

The Eastern Cape Kudu subspecies was smaller in stature than the Southern Greater Kudu with a much darker colour hide and horns. The average horn length of an Eastern Cape Kudu was 44-47” with a big bull measuring just over 50”.   

Many hunters aspire to shooting that holy grail of a Southern Greater Kudu measuring 60” or more. This has led to genetically selective breeding of Kudu throughout the country. Recently a new world record Southern Greater Kudu bull, Mr Wow was darted and measured at and impressive 75 2/8”. 

Record Greater Kudu darted and measured

Photo courtesy of Wild & Jag. 

However, in reality, what have these breeding programs done for hunting? First and foremost it has improved the overall quality of Kudu available for hunting in the country but in the process significantly pushed up the trophy fees of a high quality trophy bulls.

With wild animals being translocated throughout the country and even to Namibia, is the Kudu you just hunted really an Eastern Cape Kudu because of its location – or was it a transplanted genetically engineered animal? When will DNA sampling become a prerequisite for anyone wishing to enter a trophy into the record book?



  1. Not sure who authored this, but I’d like to hear where the notion of an Eastern Cape sub-species comes from?

    1. A recent taxonomic revision in Groves and Grubb’s book Ungulate Taxonomy list the following four subspecies of Greater Kudu:
      1. The Cape Kudu, listed in the SCI hunting record book as the Eastern Cape Greater Kudu.
      2. The Zambezi Kudu, listed in the SCI hunting record book as both the Southern Greater Kudu and East African Greater Kudu records from Tanzania.
      3. The Northern Kudu would include any SCI East African Kudu records from Ethiopia to Kenya if it was open for hunting.
      4. The Western Kudu from West Africa is not recognised by the SCI record book.
      So from a hunter’s perspective, there is a difference between the Eastern Cape and Southern Greater Kudus. So strictly speaking with the current possible genetic mix of these Greater Kudu subspecies if you wanted to qualify for the SCI Record Book it could hypothetically one day become necessary to provide DNA test results to prove that no genetic manipulation of a Kudu hunted in the Eastern Cape has taken place, prior to entry into this book.

      Peter Ruddle, author.

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