Although it is the national animal, and nickname of the national football team, the population of around 2,000 in the 1970s was thought to have gone completely extinct during the subsequent civil war. Efforts to find any surviving individuals eventually resulted in the discovery of two small populations. However, one of these apparently had no adult males and a Roan antelope had fathered several hybrid calves (which may be infertile).
The Giant Sable Conservation Project (GSCP) is working to re-establish viable wild populations from these few remaining animals. It has constructed a fenced sanctuary in Cangandala National Park to allow the local females and a male translocated from the Luando population to breed in safety. It has also recruited 20 local ‘Sable Shepherds’, who receive special training and uniforms, to provide informal enforcement of conservation efforts and assist in research and species management.
Tusk funding has enabled training for the Shepherds in immobilisation and capture techniques, which has been essential for the safe translocation of individuals as part of the management of their population. Manuel Sacaia, a Game Ranger and one of the Giant Sable Shepherds, was the Winner of the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award in 2016.
This project, working with sparse resources in remote areas, is the last hope for an animal on the brink of extinction. We must provide the support it needs to save the Giant Sable.