Sable Antelope - Hippotragus niger

Sable are the most striking of all the African antelope and one of the top trophies in any hunter's mind. Their magnificent horns, contrasting colours and relative scarcity make them a highly desirable trophy animal. Sable bulls turn darker with age eventually reaching their pitch black color when fully mature and ready to challenge for a herd poistion. They have a very distinctive musky odour which can often be smelt while tracking them. Despite their appearance they are no overly large antelope however make up for this in aggression.

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Sable habits
Sable populate wooded savannah regions where there is good grazing and constant water. They live in herds ranging from 10 to 40 animals with a herd bull protective of the cows and calves. Young bulls are driven out, becoming solitary as they get older, usually remaining within the same territory for many years.

Young sable bull

Although the status of the sable is considered to be safe, they seem to be on the decline in all areas BUT have adapted well to game ranching protection all over their range.

The Giant or Royal Sable is a smaller bodied sub-species but with considerably longer horns which is now listed on Appendix I and considered endangered, if not extinct already. Years of civil war in Angola, the only place where they occur, had left a question mark against the future of this species. However a small population of slightly over 200 animals left in central Angola were discovered and valiant efforts are being made to protect them with constant ranger surveillance.

SCI minimum score

Sable hunting tips - the hunt
They are best hunted on the edges of dambos and open areas in the early morning and late afternoon when they come out to graze. Their preferred habitat is miombo woodland where there is constant grazing and shade cover. Usually they move into thicker bush in the heat of the day to lie down. Bulls vary in colour from a dark chestnut brown to pitch black as they get older. Colour does not always signal a better size bull and all animals in the group should be checked.

If wounded, try and put as many shots in as possible as once they start running you can track for days without success. They are aggressive if pushed and care should be exercised when approaching them once wounded. 

We have seen a sable bull deflect a well-thrown spear with its horns as it lay wounded. We have also see a badly wounded animal charge a tracker, its head buckled downwards to brandish its razor sharp horns.

Sable hunting tips - where
The biggest sable are consistently hunted out of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kafue areas of Zambia are the current best due to the vast tracts of miombo woodland and in 2006 the NEW WORLD RECORD SABLE of 53" was taken here. Zambia consistenty produces the best Sable in Africa and if you hunt one of the following concessions you will get a mid forties bull: Mumbwa GMA, Mulobezi GMA, Lunga Luswishi GMA & Sichifulo GMA. Consider this: in Zambia, despite the price you are hunting a wilderness concession, NOT a game ranch and you are capable of getting a massive Sable.

Zimbabwe is a cheaper option as many Sable are offered on game ranches although the current political situation has destroyed much of the country's once burgeoning ranches. Tanzania also has a sizable population but are generally smaller in body and horns and are known as the Roosevelt Sable.

hunting tips - the trophy
The horns of a good bull are very apparent and should have thick visible bases, running straight upwards a considerable distance before starting to curl backwards and downwards again. Some sable have tight curls whilst other do not curl as much but run parallel with their back. Horns that do not curl back to run parallel with the back signal a young bull. In some instances, the horns curl back and downwards so much that they irritate the animal as it keeps jabbing its own rump.

did you know?
The Mountain Nyala was the very last antelope to become know to the west or science and still today very little in known about this magnificent antelope.

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