Hippotragus niger variani Thomas, 1916

Giant sable, Giant sable antelope



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Last record: 1982 (Estes 1983)
Rediscovered in 2005 or before
Wienholt (1922) relates the story of one of his companions, Van Rensberg, having "shot, the first evening, two beautiful sable from a big mob that came on to the flat below us" (p. 112) during World War 1. As he was patrolling the Rhodesia, Angola, and German South-West Africa (=Namibia) borders (p. 91) it is possible that these were Giant sable antelope, either killed within Angola or hinting at a historical distribution of the species which exceeded the borders of that country. But it is also possible that the sable was of a much commoner subspecies as a biographer of his does not mention him ever having set foot in Angola (Greville, undated).





Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Thomas, O. (1916). A new sable antelope from Angola. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1916: 298-301.


Other references:

Anonymous. (1964). A preliminary list of rare mammals including those believed to be rare but concerning which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 11(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

Blaine, G. (1922). Notes on the zebras and some antelopes of Angola. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1922: 317–339.

Cabral, J. C. (1970). Alguns Aspectos da Ecologia da Palanca Real (Hippotragus niger variani Thomas). Bull Instituto de Investigação Científica de Angola 7:5–38

Estes, R. D. (1983). Sable by moonlight. Animal Kingdom 86: 10-16.

Estes, R. D., & Estes, R. K. (1974). The biology and conservation of the giant sable antelope, Hippotragus niger variani Thomas, 1916. Proceedings of the academy of natural sciences of Philadelphia, 73-104.

Gippoliti, Spartaco. (2024). Four hundred years of studying and collecting African mammals: a review of Italian contributions to African mammalogy. J. of Vertebrate Biology 73(23110): 1-13.

P. J. Greville, 'Wienholt, Arnold (1877–1940)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 9 December 2012.

Huntley, Brian John. (2023). Angolan Giant Sable: Rediscovery, Rescue and Recovery, pp. 13-20. In: Strategic Opportunism: What Works in Africa. SpringerBriefs in Environmental Science. Springer, Cham.

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (2008). Hippotragus niger ssp. variani. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 08 December 2012.

Ministério do Ambiente. (2018). Lista Vermelha de especies de Angola: Extintas, ameaçadas de extinção, vulneráveis e invasoras. Angola: Ministério do Ambiente.

Pinto, Pedro Vaz. (2019). The Giant Sable Antelope: Angola’s National Icon, pp. 471-491. In: Huntley, B., Russo, V., Lages, F. and Ferrand, N. (eds.). Biodiversity of Angola. Cham: Springer.

Pitra, Christian, VazPinto, P., O’Keeffe, B. W., Willows-Munro, S., van Vuuren, B. J. and Robinson, T. J. (2006). DNA-led rediscovery of the giant sable antelope in Angola. European Journal of Wildlife Research 52(3): 145-152.

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Themudo, Gonçalo Espregueira et al. (2015). Complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the endangered giant sable antelope (Hippotragus niger variani): Insights into conservation and taxonomy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 83: 242-249. [Abstract]

Walker, John Frederick. (2002). A certain curve of horn: the hundred-year quest for the giant Sable antelope of Angola. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. 477 pp.

Wienholt, Arnold. (1922). The Story of a Lion Hunt: With Some of the Hunter's Military Adventures During the War. London & New York: Andrew Melrose Ltd.


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