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One Month with African Game Rangers, Part 5: Horns

Joe Riekers

The Game Rangers deal with problem cape buffalo that are causing havoc in a secluded village in this part of this one month odyssey.

Read Part 1 of the series here: One Month With African Game Rangers, Part 1: Meet the Rangers

And Part 2 can be found here: One Month with African Game Rangers, Part 2: Hospitality

Part 3 is here: One Month with African Game Rangers, Part 3: Pachyderms

Part 4 can be found here: One Month with African Game Rangers, Part 4: Spots

We don’t sleep indoors the next night; instead, we are all over the place in the Toyota. We race out to a densely wooded area and travel for nearly an hour on dirt roads without passing a single thing.

Suddenly, there a a dozen or so people scattered about. Johannes speaks to one of the women. He looks at me and says “Nyati.” The woman makes hand gestures showing horns coming from her head. I realize we are talking about a buffalo.

Where is it?

We get out and walk for over an hour, following one of the local people we had met up with. I see someone coming out of the brush and it is Klaase. How did he know we were here?

We are moving very deliberately and quietly now. I see three buffalo bulls and point at them. Johannes says something to Klaase in a language I don’t understand, and then he says to me “We shoot all three.”

The bulls are spread out in a single file. The one on the left is closest to me. There are 10 yards between them and they are 30 yards from us. Johannes raises his rifle and when I see this I aim mine.

Joe Riekers
Joe Riekers


SEE MORE: 10 Most Dangerous Game Animals

He shoots first, followed by a volley of shots. I hit one buffalo and immediately swing onto the second buffalo and send a bullet. Johannes hits that same one a second time and it is going down. I focus my attention back to the first buffalo. It has pivotted on three legs and is now facing away from me. I shoot twice and the bull falls down and lets out an eerie bellow.

All is quiet now. I see Klaase walking back to the truck. Johannes waves to me to come on and he starts leaving. Immediately, a crowd of nearly 20 people show up with knives, saws and buckets.

Carrying on

Back at the truck Johannes and Klaase are putting gas in each vehicle from cans. About 10 minutes goes by and they have not said a word.

Johannes still doesn’t say anything but gets in the Toyota. I know enough by now to jump in. Away we go. I ask why we shot the buffalo and he says “Hush.”

For most people a cape buffalo is a lifetime trophy. For these Game Rangers, it is just another dangerous job they must perform.

We arrive at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka and pull the Toyota into the driveway. I get out and pull my Tuffpak from the truck. Johannes drives off without a word.

I go inside. There is a slight hassle with security over the rifle case. Someone from the Embassy comes to meet me and takes my rifle case. I am given car service information as to when I will be picked up and returned to the airport.

I realize I will never see Johannes or Klaase again. I am headed home after a month long trip.

Check out the conclusion of this series coming soon.

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One Month with African Game Rangers, Part 5: Horns