Gerhard Damm Reviews Peter Flack’s Hunting the Spiral Horns – Kudu, the top African Antelope
February 2013, Volume 11-1

Peter Flack is well known to the readers of African Indaba and he has contributed frequently since the inception of the newsletter more than a decade ago. As an accomplished author of books, like Heart of an African Hunter, Tales of a Trophy Hunter in Africa, Hunting Icons of Africa and The South African Conservation Success Story as well as articles on African Hunting beyond count, Peter became a household name for anybody interested in conservation and hunting in Africa.

92The Kudu book reviewed here is the first in a five-book series covering the 27 recognized phenotypes of the endemic African spiral horn antelope family. Peter’s affinity to the spiral horns in general and to the African Kudu in particular is well-known; the initiation of the Spiral Horn Antelope Club several years ago as an information exchange platform for spiral horn enthusiasts was but a first step. In this Kudu book, Peter brings together the deans of Kudu hunting – all of them hunting legends on their own: Anthony Dyer, Brian Herne Robin Hurt, Alain Lefol, James Mellon, Tony Tomkinson, Jason Roussos, amongst others. Altogether over 400 photographs, most of them never ever published before complement the authoritative chapters. Apart from giving in-depth information on each of the six Kudu phenotypes (including of course the grey ghost of East Africa, the Lesser Kudu), Flack provides insight into the  historic context of the early explorer accounts of the Kudu, its hunting then and now, the life history and habitat of the different phenotypes, appropriate hunting rifles, ammunition, techniques and glances into the box of tricks of successful kudu hunters – altogether a wealth of information never before presented in a single book.

With typical Flack-tongue-in-cheek, Peter Flack goes about the taxonomic Kudu re-classifications of recent years. Apparently, the scientific world is coming to similar conclusions like the eternally practical Peter regarding the now rather exasperating raising of subspecies to species rank. In particular in connection with the ungulate taxonomy of Groves and Grubb, mentioned by Peter on page 22 of the book, I have read peer comments that it is seen “as a step backwards for both taxonomy and conservation” (see also Frank Zachos et al., Species inflation and taxonomic artifacts—A critical comment on recent trends in mammalian classification Mammal. Biol. 2012).

Kevin ‘Doctari’ Robertson, author of “The Perfect Shot” opines that the book contains a treasure trove of valuable information and anecdotes, destined to become a classic. Rolf Baldus, a co-editor of African Indaba, and editor of the iconic book “Wild Heart of Africa, The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania” writes about Peter’s Kudu book … “[this] well written and visually appealing book is to become required reading for all spiral horn hunters, in general, and kudu hunters, in particular, for many years to come.” I may be permitted to add that it also should be mandatory reading for non-hunting African conservationists and wildlife managers from the public and private sectors, as well as the students of African wildlife.

Hunting the Spiral Horns – Kudu, the Top African Antelope was officially launched at the Dallas Safari Club Convention on 4 January 2013.

Hunting the Spiral Horns – Kudu, the Top African Antelope edited by Peter Flack. ISBN Number 978-0-9814424-8-8, published by Rowland Ward Publications (2012). Standard Edition: Hardcover with dust jacket, 292 pages with 400 colour photographs.

Price: US$65.00 / ZAR535.00.  Available from Rowland Ward Publications (South Africa) and Safari Press (USA)


Review: Gerhard Damm