Sable Antelope

(Hippotragus niger)




Facts about this animal

The Sable Antelope is a large, dark coloured antelope with curved horns in both sexes and conspicuous black-and-white head markings. The name "sable" refers to the black colour of the male's coat. The male's head-body length is 210-255 cm, with a shoulder height of 127-143 cm. Body weight is 200-270 kg (males) and 190-230 kg (females). The scythe-like ringed horns grow to a length of 150 cm (males). Females are smaller than males and have a chestnut to dark brown darkening coat as they mature while (adult) males are very distinctively black. Both sexes have a white underbelly, white cheeks and a white chin and a well developed, coarse, stiff mane on the back of their neck.

Did you know?
the largest subspecies, the giant sable, unique to Angola was believed by many to be extinct after almost three decades of civil war? Fortunately, an investigation carried out in 2004/05, using remote cameras triggered by an infrared beam, could prove the contrary. A small herd of giant sable could be documented on film in the Kangandala National Park in the northern province of Malanje.


Name (Scientific) Hippotragus niger
Name (English) Sable Antelope
Name (French) Antilope noire
Name (German) Rappenantilope
Name (Spanish) Antílope sable
Local names Afrikaans: Swartwitpens
Portuguese: Palanca negra
isiNdebele: Umtjwayeli, ingwalathi
isiXhosa: Iliza
isiZulu, siSwati: Impalampalaki
Swahili: Mbarapi, pala halasePedi
seSotho: Phalafala
seTswana, siLozi: Kwalatachi
Shona: Mharapara, ngwaratitshi
Venda: Phalaphalaxi
Tsonga: Mhalamhala
CITES Status Appendix I (subspecies variani only)
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Colin Burnett



Range South-eastern and southern Africa
Habitat Wooded savannahs
Wild population 75.000 (1999)(Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 357 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Sable Antelope


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Requirement 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Road transport (according to the South African Standard SANS 10331): Transport adult bulls separately under tranquillization. Transport cows, calves and subadult bulls in mass crates under tranquillization. If transported individually, the crates should be placed transversely on the transport vehicle, so that the heads of the animals face outwards.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Paul Maritz

Why do zoos keep this animal

While listed in the "lower risk" category by IUCN, sable antelope populations are quite rare in parts of their range. Zoos therefore aim at maintaining selfsustaining ex situ populations and run coordinated breeding programmes in three regions. Zoo bred-animals have already been sent back to South Africa for the purpose of being reintroduced to conservation areas where they have become locally extinct.