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New sable released on to Abelana

Photo credit: Victoria Napier

Abelana’s ongoing commitment to conservation has been given a boost thanks to the introduction of new sable onto the reserve. Three bulls and 12 cows, a number of which are pregnant, were released in January this year to supplement the existing sable numbers and improve the genetics of the population.

One of the most impressive of the antelope species you’ll find on Abelana Game Reserve, the sable is part of a group that’s been nicknamed “Kruger’s rare antelopes” because of a dramatic fall in their numbers in the neighbouring Greater Kruger reserves. Along with roan, tsessebe and eland, they are the least seen of all the antelope species in the Greater Kruger.

Abelana Game Reserve is doing its bit to help increase sable numbers locally. In the 1940s sable numbers in the Lowveld region were estimated to be in the region of 36,000. Severe periods of drought and below average rainfall added to their decline, but breeding programmes and  reintroduction to their traditional range has led to a steady increase in numbers, thanks to improved rainy seasons.

So sable are a priority here at Abelana, and we’re very proud of what we’ve been achieving in terms of growing our population thus far.

When she’s ready to give birth, a female sable will leave the herd and look for a secluded, grassy spot in which to bring her calf into the world. She will then leave the calf in the long grass for protection and return to feed it regularly. When the calf is strong enough, it will join the herd with its mother.

Photo credit: Victoria Napier

Herds are made up of mostly females and a territorial bull during the summer months. In the dry months of winter groups merge, sharing grazing which is more sparse. A sable’s diet consists predominantly of grass, although they will also eat herbs and leaves from shrubs and trees.

Many African cultures treat the sable with reverence and believe it to be the embodiment of lightness and darkness, probably because of the adult sable bull’s beautiful black and white coat. Sighting a sable on a hunt was said to bring good fortune.

According to renowned South African storyteller and Zulu sangoma, the late Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, the sable is a “true beast of the gods” and one that “must never be hunted, whose skin can only be worn by those who approach the great gods in the name of humanity”. Come and visit Abelana soon and see first-hand what we’re achieving on this wonderful, community owned reserve. Drop us an email for more information or to make an enquiry.



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