Africa wins again

I was saddened, but not surprised, to read of the death of a professional guide in Zimbabwe.

A Zimbabwean guide has been killed by a lion after escorting tourists on a walking safari in the country’s Hwange National Park, where Cecil the lion lived before he was killed.

Quinn Swales, 40, from Harare, was savaged by what is believed to have been a male lion as he followed it on foot in the centre of the 14,000 square mile park.

Sources in the wildlife industry suggested the lion was called Naka and had been behaving aggressively towards humans and vehicles for some time. A professional hunter is believed to be seeking the lion to put him down.

. . .

Other guides in the area said Mr Swales would have been carrying a hunting rifle of at least .375 mm to protect his clients and himself.

An employee of Camp Hwange, who did not wish to be named, said they were still trying to establish what happened.

There’s more at the link.

The journalist who wrote the article does the usual abysmal job of identifying the caliber of the rifle.  It was almost certainly chambered in .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, a standard ‘medium’ cartridge for African hunting (ranking right at the bottom end of ‘major caliber’ for the big stuff).  It was one of my favorite cartridges in Africa.  When I came to the USA, it was on a working visa rather than an immigrant ‘green card’, so I wasn’t permitted to bring my firearms with me.  My .375 is now owned by a friend back in South Africa, who’s had some good hunting with it. (*Sigh*)

I’ve never understood the urge to go on a ‘walking safari’ in Africa.  Those who know (including most locals) are all too well aware that there are things in the bush that regard a human being as a tasty aperitif before the main course of buffalo, eland, kudu or impala.  We don’t have horns or hooves, our skin is very thin and easy to penetrate, and we move very slowly compared to four-legged animals.  As far as the predators are concerned, what’s not to like?  Africans tend to leave the walking safaris to foreigners who don’t know any better.

Speaking of that, I’m reminded of the well-known African joke about the European tourist attending a ‘walking safari’ briefing by a game ranger.  The latter was telling the participants what (and what not) to do in various circumstances.

The visitor stuck up his hand and asked, “What happens if I come round a bush and see a lion standing on the other side?”

The ranger replied, as patiently and politely as possible, “Just look him straight in the eye and in a firm, commanding tone, tell him to go away.”

“Oh . . . and what happens if he doesn’t go away?”

“Then bend down, pick up some dung off the ground, and throw it at him. That usually does the trick.”

“Oh . . . and what happens if there isn’t any dung?”

“Not to worry, sir.  By then, there will be!”



  1. .375 mm, talk about your needle gun!
    With easy access to the researching power of the internet there is no excuse for such errors in technical detail. It's simple laziness and a base desire to appear knowledgeable without actually doing any of the work required.
    Unfortunately, such is what I've come to expect from what passes for reportage these days.

  2. I do enjoy my .375 H&H. It's a beautiful CZ I picked up off of gunbroker. If I make it to LibertyCon next year, I'll try to remember bring it.

  3. So there's a story about some tourists getting a "bear brief" in Alaska. They were advised to wear bells (to let the bears know of their presence) and carry pepper spray. They were told to remain clear of brown bears and to avoid any place that grizzly bears have been.

    A tourist asked how could they tell if grizzly bears had been in the area.

    The ranger told them to examine the piles of scat. Grizzly bear scat has little bells in it and smells like pepper.

  4. Will a .375 H and H kill a lion? I never realized how big they were until I got eye to eye with one. The things paw was as big as my head.

  5. A .375 H&H will kill anything that walks on the planet, in capable hands when loaded with the right ammunition. It is on the small side for what is called a Heavy or Stopping Rifle, though. Most PH's and guides (same license in Zim, I'm told) start with a .375, which is the minimum they are allowed to carry, though many upgrade later to something more capable.

    Generally, a Stopping Rifle is a .45 caliber or larger, with 450 gr or larger bullets traveling 2000 fps minimum. Some consider the .416 or .425's as Stopping Rifles, although the debate on this goes back over half a decade. .458 Win, 470 Nitro, 505 Gibbs, 577 Nitro, etc. are universally considered Stopping Rifles.

    The real problem is mental and emotional, i.e., avoiding a situation where it's needed whenever possible, and then using it soon enough and correctly when it is needed.


  6. I have walked around in the Yukon, BC and Alberta where there are grizzly bears, wolves and mountain lions, but we were always armed.
    If some would have said there was a prickly bear in the area I would have avoided going near the place.

    We took some Austrian hunters on a brief hike while waiting for a Super Cub to get back to camp. Along the trail, 150 yards from the river laid a large silver salmon. I turned everyone around and watched our back trail. The Austrians thought a bald eagle must have dropped it. I did tell them that it was more than likely a young grizzly.

    The 375 with the right bullets is plenty enough gun for lions or the bigger North American bears.


  7. .375 is the "smallest" bore diameter allowed for hunting the big 5, making the .375 H&H the logical choice. There are some places that will allow you to use the 9.3×62 which is a smaller cartridge and slightly smaller projectile. Even though Karamojo Bell took many an elephant with a 7×57 Mauser (which is another round I dearly love), I'd still choose something quite a bit heftier than the .375 H&H were I hunting one of the big 5.

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