Overview
 

The Sable Antelope Project

On the 5th February 2002, four Sable (three females, one male) arrived at Johannesburg International Airport. They were transported to Graspan, near Kimberley, where they formed the nucleus of a breeding unit that will be used to stock various parks in South Africa.

 
 
Project Detail

Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger) were widespread in the bushveld areas of the Transvaal. In the 1940's it was estimated that there were over 36,000 Sable Antelope in the lowveld outside the Kruger National Park. Today there are less than 200 Sable left in the Kruger National Park! The conservation and study of this species is a priority.

February 2002
On the 5th February 2002, four Sable (three females, one male) arrived at Johannesburg International Airport, a donation from Blijdorp Zoo, Rotterdam, Netherlands. They were transported to Graspan, near Kimberley, where they formed the nucleus of a breeding unit that will be used to stock various parks in South Africa where numbers of this species have dwindled. Two further groups from Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic (May 2002) and Marwell Zoological Park in the UK (June 2003) were imported bringing the total number imported to ten individuals. One of the imported females was sterile and never bred.

June 2006
Four male animals were released into the Mapungupwe National Park in June 2006. They were fitted with GPS collars and were monitored on a daily basis to study their adaptability back to the wild. The intention was to see whether these animals would contract theileriosis or other diseases in this in situ situation. Fieldworker Mario Hohensee is to be commended for his hard work tracking these animals. He had been specially trained to do sample collection at post mortems. Sadly by November 2006 three had been predated by leopard. All three collars were safely recovered and data collected.

All the geopositional information has been collated using arcview and interesting information has been gleaned. Exciting news was received in June 2009. The last remaining male that was released in Mapungubwe was sited at Jwala in the Northern Tuli block in Botswana having crossed the Limpopo river! This proves that these reintroduced animals do have the ability to survive in harsh environments with predators present.

Project Status
Back to Africa expected mortalities with this introduction. Four animals does not represent an acceptable sample size, and four young males does not represent a family group. Sable are herd animals and survival depends on animals running together. For this reason it is difficult to make any deductions from this. However a prudent decision has been made to put this project on hold until numbers have increased before introducing more animals into Mapungubwe.

With the deproclamation of Vaalbos National Park a decision was made to move the main group to the Mokala National Park close to Kimberley. On the 17 October 2007 SANParks Game Capture Unit moved the 9 cows and 2 bulls to a breeding camp in Mokala. The position in April 2010 at Mokala National Park breeding camp was 23 animals made up of 10 adults with 7 calves born in 2009 and 6 in 2010!

A fresh bull was reintroduced to the group in July 2009 to prevent inbreeding. Section ranger Abel Ramavhale is to be commended for his interest and care given to the project.

 

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