Read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Capture Operation 2019 Report with photos of Angola’s Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Flying over one of the five known herds in the Luando Reserve. The bull leads the way.

The Aerial Capture Operation in July 2019 focused exclusively on the Luando Reserve. 

“In brief, the operation was a huge success! In total, we darted 17 sable and deployed all our 15 GPS collars, distributed in nine females and six bulls. No casualties, or incidents affecting the health of local animals as result of our actions, was to be recorded. An updated survey was concluded, plus detailed demographic data and threat assessment.”

Wilbur, the largest bull collared on this operation.

“We collared four mature bulls, presumed territorial, and one of them was accompanying one of the herds. … All these mature bulls were very nice healthy specimens, with average horns that measured between 52 and 56 inches in length.”

Magnificent territorial bull, surely the most impressive seen in 2019, but which we could not dart.

“Regarding the bulls, the biggest surprise, by far, was finding Bruno alive, a bull that had been collared in 2013 and then estimated to be around 12, which would make him today 18 years old! Considering that we had never found a bull older than 15, this was quite a shocker.”

Old Bruno. We removed his 2013 collar and wished him a peaceful ending.

“Always fascinating to report on the bulls, but the females are the crucial component, and we were eager to tackle the herds.”

Cow on the run.

And a little calf.

Another female marked – Henriette.

“…the number of cows has remained stable or even reduced slightly, but in compensation, the average age of females has dropped and the number of yearlings and immatures has increased significantly. These parameters suggest a much healthier population, with a higher potential for growth in the short term, and one that appears to have suffered a lot less pressure from snaring over the last three years.”

An amazing bachelor group with seven beautiful young males of ages 3 and 4 years old – one would be darted later on.

“Although we’ve never done it before, this year we decided to collar two four-year-old bulls from different bachelor groups. They were both very nice powerful young specimens, with horn lengths between 46 and 48 inches… by tracking a four-year-old we hope to detect and document the moment when they settle down and become territorial, a phenomenon that is still poorly understood.

Veterinarian Dr. Pete Morkel administering the antidote on a giant sable bull.

Although possibly less than in previous years, poaching is still a major concern in some areas, where the water holes were often full of traps aiming to catch sable.

Including cable snares and nasty gin traps!

A magnificent sight- the largest sable herd in which we counted 40 individuals!

“Comparing 2016 and 2019 demographic data for the five herds, we estimate a population increase of roughly 15%, which I consider a fairly good result.”

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report.

Luanda is Celebrating its 444th Birthday! Here are two special events you can attend – a free photo exhibition and a music concert that will take you back to the roots of popular Angolan instrumental music. Alliance Francaise invites you…

Exposição “Boda no meu Kubiko” de Ngoi Salucombo: O fotógrafo angolano Ngoi Salucombo apresenta no dia 24 de Janeiro de 2020 as 18:30 na Casa Rede a exposição BODA NO MEU KUBIKO. É uma exposição fotográfica que apresentar-se como uma mostra em live performance, com a finalidade de expor uma visão o mais próximo da realidade, a vivencia de uma família num prédio situado no centro de Luanda. A exposição ficará aberta ao público de 24 de Janeiro a 24 de Fevereiro de 2020, na Casa Rede, Avenida Hoji Ya Henda (antiga Avenida Brasil), nº47, 6º andar. Entrada grátis.


1º Concerto de Música Popular Urbana Angolana Instrumental – O evento terá lugar no dia 25 de Janeiro de 2020, pelas 18h00, no palco do Clube Naval de Luanda, e contará com a participação de uma «elite» de artistas de uma geração vanguardista da música popular urbana angolana de raiz, entre os quais se destacam os solistas, que vão revisitar o grande legado de exímios executantes da música instrumental de Angola.

A DISCO DE VINIL,LDA, mentora e conceptora do Projecto Memória Patrimonial do Cancioneiro Angolano — no âmbito do qual se irá realizar o I.º Concerto de Música Popular Urbana Angolana Instrumental —, é uma editora em fase de construção que vai dedicar todo o seu esforço na pesquisa, promoção e produção da música angolana de raiz, com maior incidência para o Semba, género musical do qual a DISCO DE VINIL, LDA será a sua porta-bandeira. Ingresso : 10.000 Kz. Venda de ingressos no Chá de Caxinde. Tel : 927 75 75 35 / 990 75 75 35.

Dr. Tim Kubacki writes about the drought he sees in SE Angola while working in the province of Cuando Cubango. He’s a medical mission doctor who has been serving rural Angola since 2012, we wrote about him here.

Patients in line waiting to see Dr. Tim.

“We were dropped off by MAF [Mission Aviation Fellowship] pilot Marijn, who has been making food flights for the past months to this region to try to make a dent in the famine. He was accompanied by a man from National Geographic who had just driven up to this part of Angola through Botswana, from South Africa. He’s been traveling this region of Africa since he was a kid, some 40 years ago, and he said he has never seen a drought this bad in Botswana, Namibia and Angola. He passed carcasses of elephants, Oryx, Kudu, Hippos and much more. He said every time he stopped and stepped outside of his car, he smelled death on the wind. He said the Oryx are so hardy and he has never seen one starve to death and on this trip he saw many Oryx carcasses.”

Sacks of corn and medical boxes off-loaded in Jamba, Cuando Cubango.

“I’ve seen many patients (perhaps the majority) with heart rates over 100 with complaints of generalized weakness and pain. I’ve smelled ketosis on the breath of so many. Virtually everyone is markedly dehydrated. I gave a talk on nutrition during famine one morning before clinic and one woman spoke up while virtually everyone nodded in agreement when she said, “We just don’t have food.” Almost everyone I saw this week in Rivungo [a town in Cuando Cubango] is in a state of mild to severe starvation.”

After the sacks of corn are loaded from plane to car, every kernel is picked up.

See Dr. Tim’s blog with photos at: kubackisinangola.com

Download the 2018 Annual Report of the Angolan Association for Birds and Nature (Associação Angolana Para Aves e Natureza), in English with a brief summary in Portuguese, compiled by Michael Mills, on bird conservation and research activities in Angola. Click here to download the six-page PDF.


Visit this website’s Birds page here to read more materials about birds in Angola, including past annual reports by the Angolan Association for Birds and Nature.


Now available online, South West Angola: a portrait of land and life, click here to download a PDF of the book. This is the most informative book published to date about southwest Angola, covering the provinces of Namibe, Cunene and Huíla, written in both English and Portuguese, by the Namibian father-daughter team of John and Stephie Mendelsohn.

This comprehensive book brims with images, maps, graphs and charts that capture the faces, spaces and places of the great open landscapes that makes up Southwest Angola, like this magnificent tree, purported to be the world’s largest baobab, which grows north of Xangongo.

 

NOTE (update on Nov. 10, 2019): Regarding the December poaching incident below in which three poachers were arrested red-handed with the remains of a freshly killed giant sable female and then set free by the judicial system, it was not actually the judge who made the decision. The poachers were sent home by a local prosecutor with whom the poachers and respective families managed to negotiate a friendly release. This of course raises some worrying issues regarding the conduct of local police authorities, but also means that the incident is not necessarily closed from a formal legal standpoint. Source: Palanca Report First Semester 2019.

Read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Semester 2018 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

The Luando Reserve is where most of the Giant Sable work has been focused lately, and where the tasks are more challenging…

Recently-appointed head of rangers for Luando, senior ranger whose war name is Fox, is doing an excellent job in training and organizing the sable shepherds and turning them into functional rangers.

“Benefiting from preliminary undercover intelligence work and with firm collaboration received from local villagers that a serious poaching team had crossed the Luando river and was operating in a given region, we sent our six best rangers to survey the area and prepare an ambush if possible. Six poachers were intercepted and following a few shots fired, three got away but the other three were detained, plus one weapon, ammunition and three well maintained motor bikes. Significantly they were carrying various animal parts and remains and included the skin of a giant sable female.”

History is made. The first time in 50 years poachers are arrested with evidence of killing a giant sable! A day in the life of a ranger on patrol in Luando, view the slide show:

 

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“Although we worked in close collaboration with provincial authorities, government, police and military and we thought that all the necessary steps had been taken to make sure the poachers would receive exemplary punishment, the judge ruled that the poachers should be released upon paying a fine of AKZ 250,000.00, which was worth less than US $250.00 per person. This was a ridiculous amount, and worth much less than what they had already profited from selling the bush meat! This ruling blatantly ignored that the act of killing of a giant sable – our natural national symbol, had recently been criminalized and the fine set at the very impressive and dissuasive amount of AKZ 22,000,000. And yet they got away paying only 1% of what the law recommends because the judge took pity on them or possibly didn’t think this was such a serious offence. Needless to say, this was a huge blow to the morale of the rangers, and even the local villagers feel frustrated and revolted by the judicial system.”

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report.

 

Hippo attacks, wrestling rapids and being arrested by Angolan security forces! Hear all about it at the Viking Club, Thursday 5 September, 2019, beginning at 19:30. Oscar Scafidi, author of the latest Bradt Travel Guide to Angola, will present images and video clips and share his experiences kayaking, hiking and wading 1300 km along Angola’s longest river, the Kwanza River, along with his friend Aly. Oscar worked as a History teacher at the Luanda International School from 2009 to 2014 and currently resides in Madagascar. Buy an autographed copy of his book, Kayaking the Kwanza, which will be on sale Thursday evening.

Oscar Scafidi and his friend Aly on the Kwanza River.

Everybody is welcome to attend. For your information the Viking Club in Luanda is a non-profit sociocultural association with Nordic origin with an aim to promote a more knowledge of Angolan society and culture. The Viking Club has its premises on the main floor of the Maianga building, Rua Marien N’Gouabi No.118 in Maianga, across the street from Ambassador/Agencia de Viagens/Turismo. Visit our Join Us page to see a map.

On sale at the Viking Club on Thursday September 5, 2019.

Read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s First Semester 2018 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Flap-necked chameleon.

Generous rains that continued into May brought new life to the park and reserve after the previous year’s drought.

“Sable are breeding exceptionally well, they are well protected and the area of the sanctuary is still big enough to sustain a fast growing population.”

Luando Reserve inundated in March during patrols.

“The step up of security measures initiated in the previous year is producing encouraging signs. In particular, the semi-permanent presence of two senior rangers, well equipped and maintained, and fully motivated has been a game changer in the reserve.”

Insect life in Cangandala … View the slideshow:

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“The message is clear: the giant sable is a national symbol and sacred, so Government and partners want to take seriously the mission to protect the species.”

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report. 

 

Cavango clinic/hospital.

Dr. Tim Kubacki is a medical mission doctor who has been serving rural Angola since 2012.

He is based in Cavango, “a small, rural village of about 500 people that was a mission village before 1976, especially housing and treating people with Leprosy. In 1976, all 250 Lepers were slaughtered during the civil war and the villagers scattered, many walking with a group of more than 5000 people on a pilgrimage to a refugee camp in Zambia (a nine month trek through the wilderness) until the war ended in 2002. The people of Cavango and those in the surrounding villages have since begun to repopulate the area and continue to live simply, in simple stick and mud homes with grass roofs, without electricity and running water, via subsistence living, farming by hand and raising animals for food. Many in the village have never been to the city as transportation is mainly by foot (about a week’s walk to the closest city).”

Dr. Tim regularly travels by air with Mission Aviation Fellowship Angola (MAF) to remote communities that have no access to health care. Around Cavango his clinic has placed motorbike trailers in villages to bring in unconscious patients.

Village ambulance with patient inside arriving at the clinic.

See his blog with photos at kubackisinangola.com

Read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Semester 2017 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Ivan the Terrible in 2011. He was so strongly built the radio collar looks dwarfed around his neck.

“R.I.P. Ivan!

“Ivan the Terrible passed away on July 10th 2017. An imposing bull, massively built and scarred from battles at age 8 when we first found him in Luando in July 2011… After six years of freedom and adventure outside the enclosure, the old warrior decided to return to captivity where he finally died. His death appears to have been “natural” and peaceful.”

 

“Sable breeding in the sanctuary is going exceptionally well and the population is steadily increasing. We have surely more than 60 pure animals at the moment and with a very healthy age structure – these days, calves and young make up for the majority of giant sables in Cangandala.”


“Mercury has assumed his leading role, and inherited the gentle nature, tolerance and serenity from his father Duarte.”


“Eolo is more elusive and nervous than Mercury, but he promises to soon become an exceptional specimen …. his horns are very impressive and quite larger and more handsomely arched than Mercury’s.”


“In Luando the giant sables are being tracked remotely, and the data obtained are allowing us to keep a daily surveillance achieved via satellite communications with the shepherds.”

“Following national elections in September, a new President and Government was appointed in Angola. Changes are happening at various levels, some being most promising for the future of our natural heritage, and a special commission was created in December by presidential decree for the protection of the giant sable.”

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report.