Giant Sable


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. 

 

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. 

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

              Camping under the stars in the Luando Reserve.

A skillful drone pilot accompanied Pedro to the Luando Reserve which allowed for a careful survey of some herds. For example, they were able to count a total of 41 animal in Herd 5, see two videos below: 

“A most spectacular experience was flying a drone over a few sable herds. I confess that I had been sceptical about the feasibility of filming wild herds with a drone in the remoteness of Luando reserve, but I was proved wrong, indeed very wrong. I travelled to Luando with my good friend and professional photographer Kostadin Louchanski. We were able to film amazing behavioural scenes, including hierarchical interactions among three master bulls and pre-mating behaviour with females. Pretty unique stuff!”

“In Cangandala the breeding signs have been excellent with plenty of calving, and also with a notably increase of many young bachelor males.”

    Plenty of calves suggest a very successful breeding season in Cangandala.

 Yearling sable males.

And a look at some of the insects inhabiting the park:

               A hunting spider preys on a grasshopper.

                     Unidentified flying insect.

                   Unidentified insect.

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

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Third Trimester 2016 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Between July and August 2016 an ambitious aerial census and capture operation was carried out in Luando and Cangandala.

“The objective for the 2016 capture operation would be, over the course of three weeks, to make an updated sable population census in Luando Reserve and place up to 16 GPS collars and 5 VHF collars on giant sable, both in Cangandala and Luando. A complementing objective was to survey as many as possible of previously identified (from satellite imagery) sable hotspots in Luando, including water holes, critical anharas, while assessing and acting against poaching whenever justified.”

The Angolan military participated and provided critical support. In Luando Reserve the operation was a huge success. The three known herds were located and then the two “missing” groups were also found, bringing the total of confirmed herds up to five.

The largest giant sable herd finally located in Luando Reserve.

Ngola, “arguably the most powerfully built, strongest and well proportioned bull we ever handled”,  was found escorting the largest herd in Luando.

 

In Cangandala National Park there was no need for counting the sable population as it is regularly well monitored on the ground. Also the poaching situation isn’t brilliant in Cangandala but at least it is fairly under control, besides the fact that with a couple exceptions all giant sables are contained inside the fenced sanctuary. Therefore the flights in Cangandala were done mainly with the purpose of capturing at least a couple young males and put them VHF collars.

A big surprise in Cangandala was coming across a young male forest buffalo which was clearly  seen and photographed.

Another big surprise, Ivan the Terrible was found and darted outside the fence in Cangangdala!

The slide show below shows evidence of snare-type poaching being carried out especially in the Luando Reserve.

“An important aspect of the operation involved some preventive anti-poaching measures, as a joint effort between our team, the Ministry of Environment, the local political Administrations and the Army from the Northern Military Region. An awareness campaign was carried out and the military made it clear that the giant sable antelope is a national symbol that deserves full protection and they are prepared to endorse the efforts and enforce the law if necessary. As result and over the period of a few weeks, it was possible for the local administration to collect dozens of shotguns that were being used for poaching inside the reserve.”

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Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report with more photos, and previous reports. 2017 reports to be posted soon.


Hot off the press, a new book published about wild Angola, now available from Protea Publishing and Amazon.

Angola was once one of Africa’s last great wildernesses. Gorillas and chimpanzees shared the pristine rainforests of Cabinda, giant sable antelope roamed the miombo woodlands of Luando, and the enigmatic Welwitschia mirabilis crowded the plains of the Namib. But war, intrigues and arrogance have resulted in the loss and near extinction of most of Angola’s formerly abundant wildlife and the decay and erosion of a once endless Eden.

From 1971 to 1975, author Brian J. Huntley was ecologist for Angola’s five major national parks, surveying the entire country and developing the country’s conservation strategy. Integrating the historical, political, economic and environmental threads that account for Angola’s post-colonial tragedy, Huntley describes in detail the wildlife, wild places and wild personalities that have occupied Angola’s conservation landscape through four decades of war and a decade and a half of peace. Despite the loss of its innocence, Huntley believes that Angola can rebuild its national parks and save much of its wildlife and wilderness.

                         Brian Huntley

Author Brian J. Huntley gave a presentation to the Angola Field Group on December 2011. Following retirement in 2009 as CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, he is currently an independent consultant on conservation research and implementation projects in many African countries for various United Nations agencies. He is also a Research Associate at the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town.

 

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Trimester 2016 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

In Cangandala it’s all about bulls as work continues building a new fenced sanctuary, which will be destined in the future to contain bulls for tourism visits.

Putting up a new fence

Putting up a new fence

“Inside the sanctuary the most striking records reflect a steep increase in the number of young males.”

Young males

Young males

Young calf

Young calf

Youth

Youth

A yearling male

A yearling male

“The plan eventually is to remove some of these males to the new sanctuary, as soon as it is finished.”

“The next quarter will be crucial as we are preparing for another capture operation, designed to put collars on animals in Cangandala and Luando, but also to make an updated aerial census of herds in Luando Reserve and, with assistance from military, to support anti-poaching activities also in Luando.”

tusk-award

Shepherd Manuel Sacaia who patrols the Luando reserve received the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award from Prince William for his dedicated service to protecting the giant sable.

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s First Trimester 2016 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

Cangandala Park buildings under the starry night

Cangandala Park buildings under the starry night

The new year in Cangandala Park saw heavy rains and flooding, thwarting efforts to access the giant sable inside the sanctuary.

“Without being able to track and monitor the animals on the ground, we had to settle with inferring the dynamics from the trap cameras’ records, keeping me busy for quite a while. As usual we obtained plenty of photos, and even after filtering the data to exclude blanks, we got around 30,000! These included the usual species, such as giant sable, roan, hybrids, bushbuck, duiker and warthogs.”

This slide show is dedicated to the night life in Cangandala. While the majority of photos recorded by the stealth cameras feature giant sable and hybrids, it’s interesting to keep track of the well known other species in the park.

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Visit our Giant Sable page to read Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full report with more photos, and previous reports.

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