By Ricardo Leone


“Son of a … Klipspringer!”  How could I miss it? Yes, I was over-excited again and lifted my head to see if I hit the damn thing as I was pulling the trigger. You would think on my eighth safari with numerous other big-game hunts under my belt, I would know to stay in the gun. My PH, Abie du Ploy, was none too pleased with me either. We had made the climb up into the kopjes at least a half dozen times that week hoping to find and shoot a klipspringer – one of my priory species on this, my third safari in Zambia. I had never thought about looking for a klipspringer on my two prior trips to the Lower Lupande on the Luangwa River. As I write this story, I am still fed up I missed that klipspringer – it would have been number eight of ten tiny antelopes.


When I started hunting Africa – I had never heard of the “Tiny Ten.” Who would go to Africa to hunt tiny anything? Africa is known for the Big Five or Dangerous Seven! Back in the day, any self-respecting hunter would covet the Big Five. These days – chasing the Big Five is not so easy unless you have serious financial resources and are willing to go into the witness protection program shortly thereafter. I have seen all the Big Five in the wild and have successfully hunted three of the Dangerous Seven. I will never grow tired of hunting Cape buffalo which seems to be a frequent theme of many articles in all the hunting magazines – rarely do you read about the Tiny Ten. I first heard of them after my common duiker trophy in Namibia on my third safari. At the time, my PH could hardly contain himself that we shot a duiker. He told me I could not understand – he was right. My PH, Kobus, was the first to mention the Tiny Ten and how difficult it is to both find and successfully hunt these pigmy antelope. I again saw the excitement when my son shot his steenbok – a 6½ inch monster. Our two PHs were truly stoked at the size of Mac’s trophy. The PHs told Mac that a 6” steenbok is as prestigious as a 30” nyala or a 60” kudu – those stats resonated and led me to research the Tiny Ten.

As the name suggested – they are the ten smallest antelopes in Africa. While there are many sub-species of them the so-called official list below is in alphabetic order:


  • Dik-dik
  • Blue duiker
  • Common duiker (also called gray duiker or bush duiker)
  • Red forest duiker (also called red duiker, Natal duiker or Natal forest duiker)
  • Cape grysbok (also called southern grysbok)
  • Sharpe’s grysbok (also called northern grysbok)
  • Klipspringer
  • Oribi
  • Steenbok (also known as Steinbuck or Steinbok)
  • Suni


The intention of this story is to open hunters’ eyes to the thrill of chasing the Tiny Ten. Do not wait for the lightbulb to go off as I did, make this a day-one goal. In a recent article by Craig Boddington, he calls the Tiny Ten an “acquired taste.” If you believe yourself to be a species hunter, one that enjoys diversity of game – the Tiny Ten are a must. That said, beware – this is not an insignificant goal. You will not achieve this goal in one safari in one country in one year – it will take many trips to many countries over many years. Akin to many North American hunts and some African safaris where you chase only one species knowing you may go home empty handed – if you just set out for any one of the Tiny ten, there is also a good chance you will go home empty handed. A hunter must rely on some luck of chance sightings or randomly bumping a member of this tiny club. Thus, the sooner you embrace this quest, the more likely you are to be successful – something I still dream about.


By the time I arrived in Coutada 11 in Mozambique in 2018 to hunt with Mark Haldane of Zambezi Delta Safaris, I had three of the ten from three separate safaris in three different countries. While studying the species list, I saw there were several Tiny Ten antelopes. At that time, I had no official goal, although I was more than intrigued. I had come around to shooting smaller game; in fact, one could argue that they are as challenging as many big game. Below are tales of my seven Tiny Ten in the order I hunted them, I may even elaborate on my lost number eight. You may ask why I am writing before I completed my goal. Well, I am a realist and know I may never get there despite the many trips ahead – I just feel compelled to share my passion with the hope other hunters will share this adventurous goal.

Rowland Ward with his quality Common Duiker from Namibia.

Common Duiker

The first of my Tiny Ten was taken at Hunter’s Namibia in 2014. Back in 2014 Joof and Marina Lambrecht hosted us at their stunning farm, sadly Joof passed away the following year. One species indigenous to Namibia is the gemsbok or oryx – this species was on the top of my wish list for Namibia. Late afternoon on our first day, we spotted an oryx that my PH, Kobus, thought worthy of stalking. We jumped out of the Land Cruiser and quietly stalked in single file. Kobus asked that I walk close to him to ensure our entourage was as quiet and tight as possible – he even held Fang, his little Jack Russell. I was so close to Kobus, I could not see the oryx and really had no idea what was in front of us.

 I had a sense that it was just in front of us off to our right, when abruptly, Kobus set the sticks down and pointed left at this tiny creature telling me to “SHOOT.” Seriously, I had a flash back to Zambia in 2012 when we poked fun at my long-time African hunting partner, Manno, for shooting a Sharpe’s grysbok with his Rigby .416 – we teased him that he shot the neighbor’s pet Chihuahua. Well, in front of me was another Chihuahua. Instinctively, I set my Griffin & Howe .300 Win Mag on the sticks, pointed, and shot. The tiny critter disappeared – as it vanished, I looked right hoping to see the oryx we were stalking and simultaneously asked Kobus – “what is going on – I wanted that oryx.” Kobus was not naturally a forceful person, in fact the opposite; however, Kobus looked at me and said – there are tons of oryx here – you just shot a duiker! He asked me if I knew how rare it was to see a duiker here – let alone shoot one! Kobus went on to say that in the last five years, this was only the second one taken. He was quite pleased with himself that he was the PH that successfully guided this duiker. Heobus was so excited that he carried it to the Land Cruiser to drive to a special spot to carefully place the trophy on dirt hill for photos. Only years later in Mozambique did I genuinely appreciate how challenging it was to achieve all ten. My first day in Namibia was truly memorable.

Dik-Dik from Maasailand, Tanzania.


The second member of my Tiny Ten came in 2015 while hunting with Kwalata Safaris in Maasailand, Tanzania. We were with Peter Chipman again. It was day six of our safari and we had successfully hunted most of our list. We then talked about shooting a dik-dik. At that point, the Tiny Ten was still not a priority for me but I was persuaded to go after a dik-dik given the challenge of hitting such a small target after a nice breakfast as we were not going far from camp. The area was low-lying with a lot of shrubs – the perfect habitat for dik-dik with a spectacular view of Mt Kilimanjaro. I soon realized there was no shortage of dik-diks – there were many. 

The trick was to find a mature male – not easy with an animal that is only a foot high at the shoulders, weighs about 10 lbs with horns about three inches long and would not hold still for long. I had my .300Win Mag – essentially a high-powered cannon – way too much gun for the job. My PH, Quintin, told me to aim just behind the engine room in the center of the animal or I would ruin the trophy if I wanted a full mount. We drove and saw several dik-diks – we would get off, glass and normally the little buggers would run off before a conclusion could be made on gender and horn size. As we were driving – the tracker, Thomas, spotted a mature male, a shooter, about 75 yards off the road in the shrubs. We got off the Land Cruiser using the vehicle for cover. Quintin told me just get on the sticks and shoot – we knew the dik-dik would not hold for too long. I put the gun on the sticks and aimed as I usually do – at the engine room and shot! Oh no – I was supposed to shoot at the mid-section behind the engine room. C’ést la vie – I have my dik-dik and the taxidermist earned his money doing a full mount.


My son, Rowland Ward’s, Steenbok from the Karoo, South Africa.


For my third animal, we traveled to the Karoo in South Africa in 2017. We hunted at Ratelfontein, a farm owned by Jan Pickard who would become a good friend and future hunting partner by the end of the trip. My PH, Mynhard, had a dental emergency and had to find a dentist. This gave us an opportunity to switch things up a bit and we took a family-style drive with Jan Pickard, Manno and his PH, Jan Westdyk, who we had met in Namibia a few years prior. We made a plan to go to an area known for steenbok. Manno had taken one earlier in the trip and both my son, Mac, and I still had a steenbok on our respective lists.

We all traveled out on Manno’s Land Cruiser and as hoped, they found a nice steenbok in no time. It was approximately 8 a.m. when Jan W stopped the Land Cruiser and told me to shoot from the top of the cab. I had a 60-yard shot – perhaps the pressure of so many people watching me had me shoot behind the engine room taking out the rear quarters of the tiny antelope. My .300Win Mag was too much for a mercy job – a better job for the Jan W’s blade. With trophy in hand, we drove to a better spot for pictures where had some elevation, a rock and red clay to set it up. The trophy was a good one – a 5-inch Rowland Ward steenbok. Mac took the real monster whose picture I had to include. He took his steenbok with his G&H .270 – much more suitable for the small antelopes.

red duiker

Rowland Ward, Red Forest Duiker from Coutada 11, Mozambique.

Red forest duiker

In 2018 we travelled to Zambezi Delta Safari’s Coutada 11, a magical place with several distinct ecosystems. Upon review of the species list the light bulb went off for me – I could add to my Tiny Ten goal while in Mozambique. If the list were not enticing enough, just outside the camp were a couple of red duikers. Before I could say anything, I was told those are the camp’s red duikers – not for shooting – more like pets. The color of the red duiker was incredible; a rich, red-brown color that really showed up well in the evening light – clearly one of these would be on my list.


 My first full day was a ride in the forest with my PH, Rye Pletts, to see what we could bump. I brought both my rifles, the G&H .300Win Mag and G&H .375 H&H Mag.

Off we went, turning left out of the camp and then left again up the main road next to the camp. This was a sandy road – straight and took one literally to the border with the next Coutada. It was a long road with plenty of side roads to take depending on the destination. I realized that sitting on top with no one to talk with was going to be frustrating – not the social aspect, but the lack of ability to ask questions about wildlife and our ever-evolving plan. This became more apparent as the morning continued as I really had no idea where we were going or what the plan was – we were just driving. Occasionally Rye and the tracker would communicate – however, I could not understand. The first time Rye stopped the Land Cruiser for a stalk, he said we just passed a suni. It was about 9 a.m. and Rye suggested I take his .22LR as the .300Win Mag was too much. We chased the suni for a bit – I did get one shot off – a miss. The experience was a real revelation in that these little antelope were really tiny and getting a good shot off was not so easy – to be clear, it was easy to get a shot off; it was hard to hit the target!


Back on top of the Land Cruiser and shortly after our suni encounter, we spotted a red duiker on the right side of the sandy road. It was big enough and far enough away for me to use my G&H .300 Win Mag. I climbed off the Land Cruiser while one of the trackers grabbed the sticks. We were able to set up the sticks without the red duiker moving – he was facing to the right with his head down feeding. I set my rifle on the sticks, took aim, and fired – I had my first trophy of the safari. Before going to retrieve the trophy, I ranged the duiker at 83 yards. Perhaps I should have some solids for these small critters – I just did not plan for them. Rye was very particular about setting up the trophies for pictures – this was something I was incredibly happy about. Rye loaded the animal and we drove down the road a bit and turned off to the right where he could place the duiker on a mound of sand with the sunlight on it. I have never seen such a color on a trophy – its fur really shone in the sun. We took some great photos. Rye was always good about taking the measurements too – 3¼ x 3½ inches – easily Rowland Ward quality with a minimum threshold of 2½ inches per horn.


Rowland Ward and his Suni from Coutada 11, Mozambique.


After the photo session we loaded the red duiker again and made our way back to the main sandy road. However, this time I jumped into the cab with Rye who suggested I hold the .22LR to be ready. Within 30 minutes one of the trackers spotted another suni. This time, all I had to do was roll down the window and aim at it – he was no more than 20 yards away. Rye needed to just check the size of the horns and he told me to shoot – it was a good one. After having just shot my G&H .300Win Mag about an hour prior, the measly pop of the .22LR was an anticlimax. My one shot was not perfect, and we had to chase the little guy through the woods. As he was hit, we caught him on foot using Rye’s knife to finish the job.

Once in hand, we could see that we had a great suni trophy – the horns measured 4 1/8th inches each which far exceeded the Rowland Ward minimum of 2 1/8th inches. Suni horns are unique – set wide and spike-like with well-defined ridges. As there was an opening in the trees over the road where we were parked, Rye created a mound of sand in the road for pictures. The .22LR in my arms – looks fiercer than it was. The suni trophy was taken at 10.30 a.m. so we still had plenty of time left in the morning before lunch. We continued our drive seeing more suni and red duiker. I learned they were territorial critters, and we would see them again and again as we travelled the roads.


Oribi from Coutada 11, Mozambique.


My first full day in Mozambique was amazing – including two of the Tiny Ten. With the three I already had prior to Coutada 11, I had 50% of the Tiny Ten. Given we had another full day to hunt in the woods before my turn to go to the swamps to chase Cape buffalo, I told Rye I wanted to focus Day 2 on Tiny Ten species. Despite an abundance of sightings of both oribi in the morning, including a missed shot on my part, and many stalks in the afternoon on blue duiker, also including a missed shot – I was reminded the Tiny Ten are not easy to take. Day 3 we went to the swamps to chase Cape buffalo, so we had to wait till Day 4 to resume our quest.

Day 4 started well with a reedbuck then we were treated to lion watching. We had come across three of the twenty-four recently re-introduced lions to Coutada 11. Seeing the young male and two lionesses was special as is the entire conservation miracle Mark Haldane has created over the last three decades.


After watching the new residents of Coutada 11 for nearly an hour, we continued our hunt. Rye knew where oribi were likely to be – again, our goal was to find a good trophy. A Rowland Ward oribi must be a minimum of 5 inches, which sounds small – but not in the context of the Tiny Ten. After a bit of a ride – Rye finally found one, although in a wide-open expanse with no cover. I ranged it at 120 yards. Again, Rye had me stay on the Land Cruiser and shoot over the cab with my G&H .300 Win Mag on my pack. Not my finest shooting with the oribi was on the move; however, I was happy with my third and final shot on a moving target. We had our trophy. I knew I was having one of those days – poor shooting with no apparent reason – perhaps exhausted from the swamps. The oribi fell shy of the Rowland Ward minimum, measuring 4 ½ inches on each horn. The horns were like the suni with the spike-like shape and ridges. However, the oribi’s horns were noticeably blacker and closer together. We had a great blue sky for pictures – our challenge was to show the trophy without too much evidence of the damage the .300 Win Mag can do to small animals. Nevertheless, I had one more trophy to add to my Tiny Ten count – the oribi made six in total with a blue duiker still available on Coutada 11.

blue duiker

Rowland Ward Blue Duiker from Coutada 11, Mozambique.

Blue Duiker

After a successful morning’s hunt, a filling lunch, and some rest, Rye and I headed back down the main sandy lane to look for blue duiker, checking our playbook from the prior morning knowing where we had seen five of them. Hopefully, one would be bold enough to hold position for me to take a shot. Despite a good plan – we did not see one blue duiker in the first three territories where we had seen them before. As all good plans would have it, we did see one where we had hoped. I was in the cab of the Land Cruiser next to Rye with the .22LR and the window down. Rye glassed it and said it was a good male – he told me to shoot if I had a clear angle. The duiker was about 20 yards away and I was able to put my scope on him, aim and fire. I was certain I hit him.

However, the little bugger ran from on my left across the road to Rye’s right at which point we all scrambled to get him. Both trackers, Brasil and Delice, thought he went under a very dense thicket about 10 yards off the sandy lane. Rye told me to stay on one side of the thicket while the three of them surrounded the far sides of the thicket. Rye then popped out and asked me to bring him the .22LR – he went back to the far side and started to bury himself into the brush. Within a few seconds, I heard the .22LR fire. At first, I was thinking it was not too smart of me to be standing where I was – how did Rye know where I was when he shot? Then Rye came out from under the thicket with his .22LR in one hand and a tiny antelope in the other. The blue duiker was seriously small. Rye and the trackers were stoked. Rye took the duiker and walked down the sandy road a way and found an open spot for the sunlight to shine. The three guys then created a mound of sand and carefully placed the duiker for photos. Rye assured me this was a good specimen – confident the horns would meet Rowland Ward quality which was confirmed later. The horns measured 1 7/8 inches vs the minimum of 1 ¾ inches Roland Ward threshold – we had a monster. We shot it at 4 p.m. and took our time with photos and enjoying the moment. It was the fourth Tiny Ten member I successfully hunted while at Coutada 11 and my seventh overall.

Manno with his Klipspringer in Zambia

Manno with his Klipspringer in Zambia.

Klipspringer – missed opportunity

No need to scroll down and look for my trophy picture – there are none. I missed the only real shot I had for my eighth member of the Tiny Ten. During our 2019 ten days in Zambia with Kwalata Safaris, we must have driven up on the rocks a good half dozen times looking for klipspringers. The color of the klipspringer’s fur coat ranges from yellowish gray to reddish brown which is perfect camouflage allowing it to blend into their rocky habitat. In all our trips, we only saw klipspringers three times – twice they were on the run, and we could not determine the gender in time to take a shot – the third time was the perfect opportunity.

The rocky habitat was across the road from the camp up in the hills. The ride would take a good 30 minutes from camp and then the bumpy ride up the hill would take another 30-45 minutes. Once in the hills we would creep up the hill with the Land Cruiser in low gear all the while on the lookout. On Day 4 of the safari, we drove near the top of our route. On that day – my PH, Abie, spotted a good male klipspringer on a large rock. I was sitting on the left side and should have seen the klipspringer, but I could not see him against the rocks. Abie guided me by describing the trees I should be looking at and I finally had the klipspringer in my sight.

I had chosen to use my son’s G&H .375 with solid bullets I borrowed from Abie. The choice of rifle was a point of much discussion earlier in the week. My .300 Win Mag was too fast, solids or not; besides, I did not have any solids. We even discussed whether I should use my Rigby .416. Manno shot his klipspringer in these same rocks back in 2016 using his .416 and the 400-grain bullet did the job with limited damage to the trophy. My .416 was still new to me, so opted for a familiar gun. The klipspringer was no more than 40-50 yards with little foliage to obstruct the shot. I was seriously excited – I could feel my heart pounding, which was not usual for me given I was sitting on my butt with the gun on my knee. The excitement was clearly from the notion of adding another member to the Tiny Ten collection. I had the klipspringer in my sights and pulled the trigger – MISS! I knew exactly what I did, and Abie called it out as soon as I shot – the same damn rookie error I always do when I get excited – I lifted my head in anticipation of seeing the game fall. We got out of the Land Cruiser and had a good look around the rocks – just in case. We never saw that klipspringer again.

This was my eighth safari. I have hunted a lot of game. How could I still be making rookie mistakes? I am not sure if I have a blind spot and will never learn or if this is a positive sign that I still get excited on each hunt. Either way – I still am short one klipspringer and stuck on number seven of the Tiny Ten.


My hope is there is another klipspringer awaiting me some day and as well as the two grysbok species for me to complete my goal. In the meantime, I will continue to hunt and if possible, add sub-species to the collection. In 2022 we travelled to Uganda and hunted with Lake Albert Safaris which proved to be an extremely productive trip with both new species and subspecies to chase. I took the opportunity to use my new Griffin and Howe Highlander in .300 Win Mag. Still no solids, but with the carbon-wrapped steel barrel, long accurate shots were possible. Proving the point, we took an oribi and duiker – both at approximately 200 yards. Both trophies were allegedly new subspecies – I am still fact-checking with biologists. Regardless, I had full mounts done of each trophy to have all my seven of my Tiny Ten in full mounts.


As for my hunting partner, Manno, he has six of the Tiny Ten. While he is not as enthusiastic as me to achieve the full Ten, I know if he bumps into another one, his Rigby .416 will be ready. Together we have nine of the Ten – one of us needs a Cape grysbok for the two of us to achieve the Tiny Ten collectively.