Giant Sable


Newly posted, Pedro Vaz Pinto’s report of this August’s Giant Sable Capture Operation. Click here to read the Second Semester Report 2011 in English and Portuguese and see some stunning images of the operation in action.

“There must be no doubt that this magnificent creature is in desperate condition, on the verge of extinction.”

The largest giant sable herd, led by the dominant bull.

“As result of the last few months’ efforts we know now much better than ever before, the real situation on the ground. I believe we know how many herds there are left, exactly where they are all located, how many animals in each herd, and even the detailed population structure. There must be no doubt that this magnificent creature is in desperate condition, on the verge of extinction.”

The shepherds setting fire on a poacher's camp in Luando.

“What does come across very clearly is that not only was excessive poaching that reduced the giant sable population to the current condition, but also it is still very active at the moment and has been impacting the population very severely during the last few years.”

Logistics provided by the Angolan Air Force.

“With assistance from the military forces we are implementing action against poaching but also preventive measures against animal theft attempts.”

Not all is bad news in Pedro’s report. More pure giant sable are captured in the Luando Reserve and taken to Cangandala National Park

Trying to put Ivan on the stretcher to be hand carried to the MI-17!

“It took us 10 men and an enormous effort to carry that beast on a stretcher across 300 meters of tall dead grass, hidden termite mounds and fallen wood. It’s a shame we couldn’t weigh the bull but most guys agreed he may weigh well over 300kg.”

The difference in size is immense.

“The operation was a huge success. We managed to establish a new breeding group in Cangandala, including a new bull and six young females.”

“It made us wonder if the bull couldn’t have gone under the fence and escaped the sanctuary… there were plenty of fresh tracks inside and the bull wouldn’t leave his girls, would he? But still, how could we be sure? We located a good spot and planted a trap camera there, but we would have to wait a few weeks for an answer.”

The bull wouldn’t leave his girls, would he?

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s latest news updates with photos from Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.

The birth of a second pure giant sable calf  in Cangandala park!!

“As for the calving success, and in spite of the joy of facing the second newborn, it was disappointing not to have had more calves in the sanctuary in 2010. Females that at one point seemed to show pregnancy signs ended up not delivering the goods. All in all as we concluded the first year, we were left with a bitter-sweet taste… there was breeding but below expectations.”

The younger calf.

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s latest news updates with photos from Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.

Finally, a pure giant sable calf born in Cangandala park!!

A young male


Years of hard work and recent months of expectations finally paid off when, in July 27th (precisely one year since we caught the first giant sable – bull in Luando), we were shown by the proud herd in the sanctuary, a little calf! The first pure calf in years to be born in Cangandala National Park, and reason for renewed hope. It is a motivating milestone, and living proof that we are on the right track. A nice young male.

Proud father

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s latest news updates with photos from Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.

… “It’s a fact: the hybrids are capable of breeding!”

 

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s latest news updates with photos from Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese. Also, the latest article  ‘Angola’s Giant Sable Makes A Triumphant Comeback’  in the Fall 2010 issue of SWARA, the East African Wildlife Society’s Journal.

Africa Geographic has just published the second part of a two-part article about the giant sable of Angola’s Cangandala National Park, written by journalist John Frederick Walker, entitled “Antelope From The Ashes” (part one of two). Mr. Walker has written about the giant sable in various books and articles, visit our giant sable page to see links to some of his other articles.

Click here to download a PDF of part two. Click here to download a PDF of part one, which was published in the May 2010 issue of Africa Geographic.

Africa Geographic has just published the first part of a two-part article about the giant sable of Angola’s Cangandala National Park, written by journalist John Frederick Walker, entitled “Antelope From The Ashes” (part one of two). Mr. Walker has written about the giant sable in various books and articles, visit our giant sable page to see the links.

Click here to download a PDF of the article. From the article’s introduction:

The jet-black giant sable bull is a breathtaking animal. Imperious and awe-inspiring, it is endemic to Angola, where it is    revered as a national icon, its distinctive scimitar-shaped horns adorning everything from postage stamps to soccer jerseys. There is a disconnect, though, between the antelope’s symbolic importance and its conservation status. Ironically, the now-famous photograph that proved its miraculous survival through nearly three decades of civil war also held clues to its greatest threat yet – there were no bulls in the picture and at least one of the females displayed evidence of hybridisation with roan antelope. In the first of a two-part series, John Frederick Walker, who wrote about the rediscovery of the giant sable in 2005, takes us inside an audacious expedition to breed the subspecies back from the brink.”

Writer John Walker aboard the helicopter during the 2010 giant sable capture program.

First ever full length film documentary on Angola’s giant sable features capture operation.

You are invited to a sneak preview of the documentary film entitled Saving the Giant Sable Antelope, at the Viking Club, Thursday May 13th, at 8 PM*. Shot live on location in Cangangala National Park and the Luando Reserve over a seven month period, culminating in the capture operation last August to rescue Angola’s giant sable from imminent extinction, the film runs approximately 85 minutes and will be presented in English in full high definition. This is still a work-in-progress, and after the screening, filmmaker Kalunga Lima wants to hear your thoughts on the film, ie: is it too long, what didn’t you understand, what needs to be explained more?

Kalunga Lima, General Manager of LS FILMES, is an Angolan filmmaker who grew up in Canada, and has been making films in Angola for 10 years. This is his first Wildlife project.

The giant sable antelope is considered the most majestic of all antelopes and is found nowhere else in the world except in the province of Malanje. For more information visit this website’s Giant Sable page.

Filmmaker Kalunga Lima filming in Luando Reserve. Photo courtesy LS FILMES.

*Please note, due to the length of the film we will begin earlier than usual. The Viking Bar will be open at 7:30PM.
Everybody is welcome to attend this evening In close cooperation with the Viking Club, this event is offered free of charge. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are sold at the bar, $3.00 each. For a location map of the Viking Club visit our website’s Join Us page. The club is on the main floor of the ‘Predio Maianga’ at Rua Marien N”Guabi, No 118 in Maianga, across the street from the new Panela de Barra restaurant.


The generous seasonal rains have made significantly more difficult to access Cangandala, but this has also allowed the vegetation to recover, and the park is now dominated by different shades of green. As the woodland presents itself lush and moist, there is plenty of food for our herd inside the 400ha sanctuary. The animals seem to graze happily, and not being forced to move much every day inside the fenced area. The nine females keep together as a group and always diligently led by the bull. Whenever we approach he will watch and stare at us while the females stay relaxed.

Picture of staring palanca (giant sable) bull

So far so good. It is a very good sign, that up until early March, no female has shown signs of advanced pregnancy or calving. If that was the case, it would have meant that they would produce a hybrid calf, as there wasn’t enough time to blame it on the new bull! All we have to do now is wait a bit longer, as before June we don’t expect any calves.

Cangandala National Park, lush and green thanks to seasonal rains.

Visit our Giant Sable page to read Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto latest news updates with photos from Cangandala Park, in English and Portugese.

 


Each month biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto shares news and photos from Cangandala Park on our
Giant Sable page.

Resulting from the successful capture operation, the routine has changed dramatically in Cangandala, as our effort is now focused in keeping the animals under surveillance within the fenced area…  The females don’t look as fat as they used to when they were captured, but this no reason for concern, as it may be a more natural condition now…  More importantly, as probably what everyone wants to know, the bull seems to be a competent master. He is always near the females, leading them in the daily routines, but securing the back and guarding the herd from intruders. The females seem to submit to his guidance naturally and joyfully. They’re in love, and no, I don’t know if they are pregnant yet – we’ll have to wait a few more months!

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