The Fascinating Five

Published on 06 January 2016
Author: Daniel Beardsmore
We’ve culminated together some of the rarest, most coveted species from all four corners of the earth to give you a ‘Fascinating Five’ list…

Black Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)

From deep within the shadows of the German forests, the black roe deer continues to illude. With the European Roe, coat colours range from anywhere between dark brown, red-brown and white, but its the colour black that fascinates the most and has done for centuries. What we do know is that the colour is genetically determined and not influenced by browsing habits or biotope. With this certain colour variation of roe deer, the gene that relays the black colour is recessive and not dominant.

The black bucks antlers don’t usually grow as big as the common red-brown roe, but the excitement of chasing the black shadow makes them a unique trophy and a perfect candidate for the Fascinating Five list.

Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus)

A hunt for the greatest spiral horned antelope in all of Africa. The Bongo is characterised by its impressive bright auburn or chestnut coat, with the neck, chest, and legs generally darker than the rest of the body. Their coat is marked with 10–15 vertical white-yellow stripes, spread along the back from the base of the neck to the rump. Coats of male bongos gradually become darker as they age until they reach a dark mahogany-brown colour.

These incredibly shy species inhabit the rainforests of Central Africa with isolated populations in Kenya, and many West African countries such as, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.

The hunt for bongo is a fascinating spectacle: the excitement, culture, and actual hunting experience make it unquestionably unique . There are different methods to hunt Bongo, however, hunting with dogs and the pygmies cannot be compared to anything else. Joining the pygmies on an adventure, that for them is a lifestyle is exhilarating. The pygmies have been doing this for centuries and in doing so, have acquired some of the best tracking and hunting skills ever. I can imagine it being rather fascinating to see a 4ft man carry 45kg+ of your quarry strapped on his head with natural vegetation, and still be able to easily traipse through the forest with skill and ease. Without question, hunting bongo in the African rainforest is a different experience all in all – worthy of making the list due to its individuality.

Markhor (Capra falconeri)

The various sub-species of Markhor are the most coveted trophies of mountain game in the world and they are also the rarest. They include the following; Bukharan Markhor, Kabul Markhor, Kashmir Markhor, Sulaiman Markhor, and Astor Markhor. They can be found in mountainous areas in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Occasionally, by special permit, specimens of the Bukharan, which may be hunted in Tajikistan, are available by application.

The name ‘Markhor’ means snake horn in Pharsi (Persian) referring to the serpentine like coil of the horns, which may reach a length of around 1.5 metres. Other characteristics that are typical of male Markhor are the long manes, which make them stand out as potentially the best looking species of wild goats. The coat length and colour varies according to season: it is longer and greyer in winter, and shorter and yellower in summer.

In June 2015, the IUCN updated its Red List, which included various new and revised species assessments – the markhor being one of these species. This mystical mountain goat has made an incredible recovery which sees its current status as ‘Near Threatened’, representing a major improvement over the years. It is through the interest of hunters, who are willing to pay a lot for hunting Markhor (very few older males), that a portion of funds taken are reinvested into conservation of the species.

Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex)

The illustrious king of the mountains, perhaps the most coveted trophy in Europe, the Alpine ibex are native to the mountain range of the same name.  This species is currently huntable in Switzerland (by special permit), Austria and Slovenia. The Alpine Ibex is an obvious choice for the ‘fascinating 5’ list due to the scarcity of available permits, the difficult terrain they inhabit, and the quality of hunting experience. Most known for their staggeringly large backwards-curving horns (with numerous ridges along their length), males can reach a length of anywhere around 27 – 40 inches.

“The finest test of nerve, endurance and physical fitness is surely to be found in the pursuit of wild goats of the crags and precipices, and they must be accorded the highest honours of the stalking world.” (C.H. Stockley, 1936)

Ibex hunting requires physical stamina and perfect long range shooting ability; more than required in the pursuit of less-challenging game.  Ibex inhabit the roughest and most arduous terrain in the world, living in some of the wildest and most remote places.  They have remarkably sharp eyesight and hearing.  These characteristics explain why Alpine Ibex and wild goats are accorded so much respect in the hunting world and why so many hunters seek them – a true legend of the mountains.

Javan Rusa (Rusa timorensis)

Hidden within a tropical paradise, far out in the Indian Ocean, the Javan Rusa deer can be found situated on the island of Mauritius. Expect soaring temperatures, sun-kissed beaches and a truly unforgettable, exotic hunting experience.

Rusa are often characterised by their large ears, the light tufts of hair above the eyebrows, and with males: lyre-shaped, three-tined antlers, which weigh around 2.5 kg – often appearing too large for their body size. Similar to the Sambar stag, Rusa can be distinguished by the relative position of the longest tine of the antlers : the inner tine is the longest, whilst in the Sambar it is the outer tine.

These exotic species have an extraordinary sense of smell, sight and hearing and  they rightly command the forest! With such intelligence, hunting the Rusa becomes even more enthralling.

Is there a specific species you think we’ve missed? We’d love to hear your additions, feel free to comment below…