Film: The Endangered Giant Sable Antelope
From 1968 to 1970 Runi and Dick Estes studied the sable antelope, starting in Kenya and visiting subspecies and populations from Kenya to Namibia, followed by a year in central Angola observing the endangered giant sable. This was the first study attempted during the rainy as well as the dry season. At that time there were an estimated 1000-2000 giant sable in the two reserves set aside for Angola's totem animal. Dick has continued to be involved in its conservation since then, including visits to Angola in 1982 and several times since 2001, most recently in 2011. Angola's parks and reserves were unprotected during the civil war that began in 1975 and continued to 2004. Occupation by Government and Savimbi armies, postwar poaching and prospecting for diamonds in the two giant sable reserves have reduced the sable populations to apparently less than 200. The Portuguese-Angolan Pedro Vas Pinto, who undertook to save the giant sable, managed to gain funding from Government and Anglo-American oil companies to establish a large fenced enclosure inside the smaller reserve, capture by helicopter the nine surviving females there, and then airlift a bull from the other reserve, to restart breeding. The film produced by an Angolan cinematographer is all about this extraordinary conservation effort. Dr. Estes is a well-known authority on the behavioral ecology of African mammals. An Associate of the Harvard Museum of Natural History and Research Associate of the Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center, he is also a member and former chairman of the World Conservation Union's Antelope Specialists' Group. Free and open to all.