All South African non-dangerous game is commonly referred to collectively as "plains game," regardless of whether they are forest, savannah, highveld, scrubland, or desert dwelling species. The diversity of plains game in South Africa is mind-boggling.
The best forest species are found along the lush sub-tropical eastern coastal belt and adjoining midlands. Forest species include red & blue duikers, the bushbuck, and nyala. The blue duiker is only found along the eastern coastal belt in Natal and the Eastern Cape, with some in the Manica and Sofala regions of Mozambique. The red duiker has a slightly greater distribution, and is found in the indigenous coastal belt forests all the way from Knysna, near the southern tip of South Africa, right up to Malawi, and including most of Mozambique's low-lying areas.
The stunning spiral horned nyala can only be found along the northernmost section of the eastern coastal belt and the riverine areas of the Lebombo Uplands. Its cousin, the South African bushbuck, is more common. It can be found in all of the forsted eastern coastal belt as well as the lowveld and bushveld. The Limpopo bushbuck, a subspecies recognized by Safari Clib International, is found in the northernmost regions near the Limpopo river.
The shy and seldom-seen suni is another of the South Africa's eastern coastal belt antelope found mostly in the very norhternmost part of the Kwazulu-Natal coastal belt and the Pavuri/Punda Maria area of the Lowveld, where South Africa borders on Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The Cape grysbuck, which also occurs in the Cape Folded Mountains, is the only coastal-belt species that is exclusive to South Africa.
Savanah species mostly frequent parts of the southern Kalahari, Bushveld basin, Bankeveld, Pietersburg Plateau, Soutpansbeg, lowveld, bushveld, and the Great Karoo. Savanah species are what made South Africa famous, and these include the blue wildebees, eland, impala, greater kudu, and some of the zebras. Some savannah species such as giraffe, various hartebees and the tsessebe, the sable, and the roan have, historically, limited themselves to the lowveld and the bushveld, and are rarely found outside these regions. Current South African conservation policy also, correctly, frowns upon moving species into regions without historically-recorded sightings, and actively opposes such introductions.
Highveld species are unique to the upper Karoo, highveld, and the Great Karoo regions, and are found nowhere else in the world.
For some reason, the uniqueness of the highveld species has not been recognised, promoted, or exploited by the South African hunting industry. These species include the black wildebees, blesbuck, and the grey rhebuck.
Scrubland species include the springbuck. Although it is also found in Namibia, it is actually one of the country's national emblems. it is a little antelope, well-known because of it's former abundance. These days, the best specimens are found in the westernmost parts of the Kalahari, Bushmanland, and the Namaqualand Highlands.
In South Africa the Hartmann's mountain zebra is mostly found in the Cape Folded Mountains and the mountainous regions of the Great Karoo. Although classified as a scrub dweller, it actually is a grazer with a preference for the scrubland grasses.
The red hartebees, a Kalahari dweller with extremely unusual horns, is more of a Botswana and Namibian resident than a South African one, but is found in the Northern Cape just south of Botswana and east of the South African border with Namibia. It has also been introduced to a number of other ranches in South Africa, particularly in the NorthWest and Northern Provinces. Interestingly enough, notes dated 1660 by Jan van Riebeeck (one of our early Dutch settlers) indicate that they shot red hartebees just north of Paarl. That falls withing the Cape Folded Mountain region, which means it inhabited all the arid areas from the southern tip of Africa, up through the Doring Karoo to it's present distribution. It is expected that this species will increasingly be re-introduced into these regions.
The oryx, or Gemsbuck as we call it, basically frequents the same southern Kalahari areas the red hartebees currently does. Unfortunately, it has been introduced to many other parts of South Africa and is often hunted today in habitat quite unlike it's historic home.
South Africa also has the largest specimens of one of the greatest African big-game trophies, the magnificent kudu, the "Grey Ghost" of Africa.
This is a summary of the indigenous game of South Africa that can be hunted in the native habitats, although this habitat consists mostly of private land.
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