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 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.

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.


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.