The Kudu horn has long been a symbol of Scouting and of Wood Badge. In fact, the Kudu Horn was used to summons the very first scouts at Brownsea Island in 1907 and in Wood Badge the Kudu Horn or a substitute is used in all U.S. Wood Badge Courses.
The true Kudu is a species of African antelope that is reddish gray to almost blue in color. It ranges from South Africa to Abyssinia. A Kudu bull stands almost five (5) feet high at the shoulder. Most beautiful are the magnificent spiral horns that cap the head. The Kudu has a remarkable sense of hearing, it has keen eyesight, keen sense of smell, and great speed. which makes it difficult to capture.
As a Colonel in Africa in 1896, the Kudu Horn was first identified by Lord Baden Powell, as he and his men were on a raid down the Shangani (SHAN-GAH-NEE) river, and were puzzled at how quickly alarm was spread among the Matabele warriors. They later found that the Matabele were using a War Horn of tremendous sound carrying power. A code existed, and as soon as the enemy was sighted the alarm would be sounded. This war horn, turned out to be the KUDU HORN.
It is strange that some eleven years later, in 1907, this Matabele war horn would be used to summons the very first Scouts at Brownsea Island. During the early years of the Scouting movement the Kudu Horn was silent.
The Kudu Horn resurfaced thirteen years later in 1920, when it was used in training courses. The original Kudu Horn is enshrined at Gilwell where it is sounded at the beginning of each course to summon the participants. The Horn that heralded the birth of scouting now summons Scouters from all parts of the world to do better than they have ever done before.