Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Fourth Trimester 2015 Report with photos of Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, now on our Giant Sable page.

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Small herd of giant sable with the bull in lead in Luando reserve.

Both Cangandala and Luando are the only two locations in the world where the Giant Sable can be found. They are protected areas yet this critically endangered mammal continues to be threatened to extinction by poachers. Here is an update from the final months of 2015.

In Cangandala Park, there’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news:

“…there had been a poaching incident with shooting involved which resulted in one of the rangers being wounded…….. “This is another sad reminder that even in Cangandala, poaching still remains a very real threat…”

The good news:

“Other than this tragic event, things seem to be going well in the sanctuary where at least the sable are breeding well and look healthy.”

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                       Lots of calves and young in Canangdala Park.

In Luando Reserve, also good news and bad news. The bad news again involving poachers:

“…..another mutilated giant sable, tragically a very young female who had been collared in 2013 when two years old, and who should now be attending her second calf. It is another animal lost for breeding, so for the population it is as good as dead.”

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Angolan air force tracking injured giant sable in Luando Reserve.

The good news:

“On a positive note, the military decided to step up their support to the shepherds in Luando reserve, making a few joint ground anti-poaching operations with ministry rangers, and subsequently deploying a few weapons to the shepherds who from now on will be better equipped to tackle the poachers.”

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Some more good news, birds and frogs continue to thrive in Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve….

 

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

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Third Trimester 2015 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, is now up on our Giant Sable page.

“In Luando a lot of things happened, and unfortunately we have to report an escalating of poaching, and this time with a lot of vivid and shocking evidence to support. Firstly there were reports on the use of a new trapping technique in the reserve: foot traps! These are iron made with indented lateral faces and operated by powerful spring coils. They are designed to break the leg of a large antelope such as sable or roan, and were not previously known to be used in Luando reserve.”

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The loss of Elvis is a huge setback as he was the dominant bull that attended both our second and third herds in Luando. Symbolically, both Francisco and Elvis were magnificent and imposing animals, carrying perfectly looped horns that measured 58 and 59 inches respectively. Two decent representatives for the most beautiful antelope in the world. Unfortunately it is also one of the most critically endangered mammals…

Our camp fire framed by giants; A nossa fogueira enquadrada por gigantes.

Our camp fire framed by giants.

In the southern areas of Cangandala park, we were offered the most unexpected spectacle: a tame hippo that has made his home in Cuque river near a local village and somehow manages to live in peaceful harmony with its human neighbours.

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

 

Biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full Second Trimester 2015 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese, is now up on our Giant Sable page.

The major defining component in the Park and Reserve during this trimester is, “grass, lots and lots of grass”.

mercury              Mercury, now you see him…

just horns         … now you don’t!

“Mercury has now fully matured, and his behaviour is what would be expected from a master bull, calmly arrogant and imposing.”

005-0027-028-1-0-Mercury marking the territory at salina 19


The birds and the bees of Cangandala National Park (slideshows)

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Survival of the fittest in the park

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And the unknown

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

Mercury has established himself as the Master Bull

Mercury has long attained a jet-black color.

Mercury has long attained a jet-black color. All photos, Pedro Vaz Pinto.

Instead of constantly following one female herd, he now spends most of his time alone marking and patrolling his territory, and only occasionally bursts calmly amidst a group of immediately-turned submissive females, to claim his bounty. His leadership is now naturally enforced and totally unchallenged. All young males, including the next-in-line Apollo, disappear or keep a safe distance his approach.

Young females are the future of Cangandala; Jovens fêmeas são o futuro da Cangandala.

Young females are the future of Cangandala.

We have at least two good breeding herds, totalling about 30 animals and with a good number of young breeding females… in this regard the prospects in Cangandala are encouraging. On a sad note, many poaching incidents were reported … In Cangandala armed poachers were detected inside the sanctuary and shots were exchanged with the poachers, before they eventually escaped. Also yet another trap camera was stolen, highlighting the lack of security in the park. In Luando Reserve, although it wasn’t possible to access the area because of the rains, we were informed by the rangers that poaching is rampant and one of our trap cameras was destroyed by poachers.

Ending on a bright note, colouful Cangandala… 

Removing a tree that fell over the fence.

Colorful grasshopper in the park.

A male Holub's golden weaver.

A male Holub’s golden weaver.

Read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s full First Trimester 2015 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese on our Giant Sable page.

“A shocking development that we need to report in Cangandala relates, once more, to poaching activities. There is little doubt that we have at least one team of two armed poachers, who have been operating the area at least for the past three years.”

The young roan that was transported on a poacher’s bike; A jovem palanca-vermelha que foi transportada na mota dum caçador.

The young roan that was transported on a poacher’s bike; A jovem palanca-vermelha que foi transportada na mota dum caçador.

Ranger placing a trap camera high to monitor poacher trails; Fiscal colocando uma câmara alto para monitorar passagem de caçadores.

Ranger placing a trap camera high to monitor poacher trails; Fiscal colocando uma câmara alto para monitorar passagem de caçadores.

How safe from poachers are the giant sable like this young male, even though they are inside a fenced area?

Eolo is a handsome young boy, yet to turn black but already with an impressive presence.

Eolo is a handsome young boy, yet to turn black but already with an impressive presence.

Our Toyota was the first car to cross the Luando river in 27 years; O nosso Toyota foi o primeiro carro a atravessar o Luando em 27 anos.

Our Toyota was the first car to cross the Luando river in 27 years; O nosso Toyota foi o primeiro carro a atravessar o Luando em 27 anos.

“And in Luando Reserve poaching is rampant. We found plenty of poaching tracks, active and inactive traps, recently used cartridges, animal carcasses in traps, poacher’s camps…”

Collecting cable snare traps; Recolhendo cabos de armadilhas de laço.

Collecting cable snare traps; Recolhendo cabos de armadilhas de laço.

A poacher eaten by the Luando Lion?! It’s all there in our Giant Sable page. Read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Third Trimester 2014 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park and Luando Reserve, in English and Portuguese.

Ivan is now a poor masculine figure, humble  and skinny, feeble and frightened, beaten.

Ivan is now a poor masculine figure, humble
and skinny, feeble and frightened, beaten.

Remarkably, out most popular character – crazy Ivan the Terrible resurfaced! Following an absence that lasted for more than six months we had lost hope to locate him alive and assumed he had probably been another casualty of poachers. Well, he is alive yes, but unfortunately…. he was caught in one of the many infamous snare traps that are constantly being mounted in the park and neighboring areas. He has become a shadow of the Ivan we knew, and if it wasn’t for the white ear tags and VHF collar I would find it hard to accept that he is the same individual… Our old Ivan, strong and proud, mighty and threatening, undefeated… is gone.
His left front leg carries a nasty ring-shaped scar, evidence of the cable snare that almost took his life. The incident must have happened many months ago and he must have gone through hell.

His left front leg carries a nasty ring-shaped scar, evidence of the cable snare that almost took his life. The incident must have happened many months ago and he must have gone through hell.

It is likely that the worst has passed and he will survive, but it is hard to predict if he will make a full recovery. This was yet another shocking proof that the poaching curse is far from resolved, even in Cangandala National Park. It is highly frustrating that in spite of all the effort put into the project by the various stakeholders and the very significant successes obtained over the past few years, still we don’t seem to be winning the war against poaching and the recovery and survival of this magnificent and iconic species hangs by a thread.
 
Visit our Giant Sable page to read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Second Trimester 2014 Report with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.
 

Poaching continues to threaten Angola’s Giant Sable…

An awareness poster. Um poster de sensibilização.

An awareness poster. Um poster de sensibilização.

“FAA, the Angolan Military Forces (army and air force) deployed teams patrolling the Luando Reserve, making local villagers aware of the importance to protect the giant sable, sending the message that from now on, the military will be watchful to protect the national symbol.”

“Nevertheless, a few weeks later we received worrying reports that many armed poachers were still active in Luando, and as compelling evidence the shepherds found a freshly killed roan carcass. It was a yearling male and had been shot by poachers near the diamond areas along the Kwanza River.”

Setting the poacher's camp on fire. Queimando o acampamento dos furtivos.

Setting the poacher’s camp on fire. Queimando o acampamento dos furtivos.

“In the last site visited the shock was even bigger when we burst into the scene and surprised a poacher calmly drying up meat around the fire on a camp situated less than 200 meters from the water hole… Two absent poachers had gone in pursuit of a giant sable bull that had visited the site during the night… The plan was shooting antelopes for a few days, drying up the meat, and then take the product to Malanje and sell it in the market… Unfortunately and much to our shock and disappointment, we learned later, that our poacher escaped detention within 24 hours of being arrested and delivered…”

The tree pangolin is a special and rare resident. O pangolim arborícola é um raro e especial residente.

The tree pangolin is a special and rare resident. O pangolim arborícola é um raro e especial residente.

Even in Cangandala National Park, where the Giant Sable and other rare creatures like the tree pangolin live, there is evidence of poaching.

Visit our Giant Sable page to read biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto’s Final Report of 2013 with photos from Angola’s Cangandala Park, in English and Portuguese.