The Top 5 Most Exotic BBQ Meats

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Trying to classify something as “most exotic” is akin to trying to determine which woman is most pregnant or which fingerprint is most unique. But in the interest of science, we will look at the topic from the perspective of rarity. Which meats are the hardest to come by before you throw them on the grill and cook them up? Even though emu, alligator, rattlesnake and kangaroo are exotic, they are relatively common. These other meats, however, will cost quite a bit to put on your plate.

5 Big Horn Sheep

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Native to North America, the bighorn sheep are quite a rare treat. In 2013 a hunting trip ran $12,500 to get up into the mountainous habitat of the sheep and successfully bring one back. The bighorn rams have giant curling horns that they use to battle with other rams for the affections of the ewes. Because the horns themselves can weigh in at 30 pounds apiece, that ups the price for the meat, which averages about $73 per pound. Hunters recommend grilling sheep meat over an open fire to recapture that sense of the first pioneers who climbed into the mountains to bring down the bighorns in bygone days.

4 Hippo

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The hippopotamus is widely thought to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. They kill almost 3,000 people a year. So if you really want your exotic barbecue meat with a side of fear-for-your-life, then hunting a hippo is the best way to go. They weigh one to four tons and can run 100 meters in just 12.4 seconds. And unless you’re a world-class sprinter, that’s faster than you can run. In 2013 the hunting trip rang up at $16,000, making the meat just $2.50 a pound. Hippo meat and fat has long been prized as a delicacy in Africa.

3 Lion

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The word “simba” means “lion” in Swahili. The blessed plains of Africa used to team with lions, but now they are protected in many places. When the prides get too large or the lions encroach on settled areas, hunting licenses can be had. To acquire some lion meat in 2013, a hunting trip cost $18,500. The large size of lions means that the average cost per pound is about $44 for the meat—a feast fit for a king. Lion meat resembles pork, but is significantly tougher and very gamey because of the carnivorous diet of the great cat.

2 Leopard

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Of the great cats, the leopard is the smallest at between 46 and 165 pounds, but the cost to hunt one in 2013 is anything but small. Namibia is one of the African countries where you can legally hunt Leopard. The cost of a guided trip and a license is more than $25,000. If you bag a Leo for your barbecue, the burgers will average about $240 a pound. According to those in the know, Leopard meat is succulent and salty.

1 Elephant

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It’s incredibly rare that anyone can get a license to hunt elephant. In most places around the world, they are a protected species and in danger from illegal poaching. But there are some countries that issue a limited number of licenses—and they cost a lot of money. In 2013, you could pay a big game hunting tour company $37,000 for the privilege of traveling to Namibia and gunning down a pachyderm. Locals make stews and soups using elephant meat they get after a hunter has claimed the tusks as a trophy.

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