The literary and cinematic trope of the great white hunter, which was prominent in the mid-twentieth century, had its roots in the trophy-hunting traditions of predominantly Europeans who visited southern Africa in the 1900s. While sport hunting reached its apogee between 1870 and 1914, a new breed of hunters (many of them aristocrats, tycoons or industrialists) was subsequently drawn to southern Africa for the ‘safari’ experience. Great white hunters were ‘safari guides’ with sufficient knowledge and experience to guide hunting parties in the region, which became a playground for wealthy elites. This article examines a selection of South African English-language poems that engage with the great white hunter trope. It contextualizes the ‘legend’ of the great white hunter within the history of sport or trophy hunting in South Africa, from the 1800s to the present.