We have a strong Zambian herd that consists of 23 breeding cows, and of course our present breeding bull Casanova will only improve the herd in the years to come.
Our small herd of Matetsi Sable cows consists of 8 breeding females that are a solid foundation of the typical Matetsi type sable. Our Matetsi breeding bull is a fine specimen, although lacking in horn length, at 43 inches he is a proper Matetsi in every aspect. We will in the very near future replace our present Matetsi breeding bull with a Matetsi bull that will improve our herd dramatically and take CS Game Breeders to the next level on the Matetsi Sable platform.
With a good mixture of Zambian , Western Zambian and Matetsi breeding cows we are moving fast in the right direction for the hunting market. The direction being to produce some of the best “ Intermediate Sable” soon to be available in South Africa. The mixture of Sable subspecies creates what is known as Hybrid vigour, and with the genetics of the outstanding Casanova as the breed bull mixed in, we are producing some outstanding young sable that are indicating they have huge potential.
This stunning antelope rivals even the greater kudus as the most handsome of all antelope, with its powerful, robust build, vertical mane and fantastically long, curved horns, which arch majestically backwards. Newborn calves are born with a camouflaging, sandy-brown coat, but as they grow and achieve herd status their coats continually darken. Mature females eventually become a rich chestnut-brown to dark brownish-black and fully mature males are a glossy brownish-black to pitch-black, varying with the subspecies. Coat colour appears to be controlled hormonally, with castrated males losing their black colour to become brown again, and it is thought to help communicate age, and therefore social status, to others. Both sexes have sharply contrasting white abdominal, rump, and facial patches, and black facial stripes running down the bridge of the nose and from the eyes to the nostrils. The semi-circular, ridged horns are longer and thicker in males, growing up to an incredible 165 centimetres in length, while those of females reach a worthy 100 centimetres. These massive horns are very effective defensive weapons against natural predators and are used in dominance fighting.
The horns are up to 1.6 m long and are carried by both sexes. The horns of cows are 40% shorter than those of the bulls and do not reach trophy quality. The horns grow vertically for the first third of the length and then turn backwards to form a long curve of 85-110°. They are heavily grooved for 85% of the length. Poor forage quality and social stress may limit horn development.
Sable antelope mate during the dry season from May to July when sub-populations congregate on remaining green pastures. Maternal herds of 15 to 25 breeding females and their young are led by a single alpha female. Young males are driven out of this herd at about three to four years of age and join bachelor herds of around two to twelve individuals. When around five or six years of age, males will establish and defend a territory at choice feeding grounds which attract females. The dominant male allows subordinate males to graze in his territory as long as they are submissive and show no interest in his females, but will fiercely fight any male that challenges his authority. Fights involve males circling one another, shaking their heads, dropping to their knees and engaging in ‘horn wrestling’. Fatalities are known, but rare. A bull also uses urine and faeces to scent-mark the perimeter of his territory to warn off all other rival bulls.
Peak mating activity occurs in June, and after a gestation of eight to nine months, females typically give birth to a single calf at the end of the rainy season, when food is abundant and the long grass provides sufficient cover. After birth, the calf remains concealed for at least two weeks, joined by its mother for the first week, before she returns to the maternal group that the calf will eventually join. The calf is weaned and fully independent at six to eight months of age. Females start to breed at two and a half years of age and attain rank status in the herd hierarchy based on seniority, while males are evicted from the social group at three to four years old. These males then join bachelor herds of two to twelve individuals until they reach sexual maturity at five years.
Most active in the early morning and late afternoon, sable antelope graze on a variety of short grasses abundant during the growing season and survive during the harsh dry seasonby browsing on herbs, bushes and trees. Water is visited at least every other day and no sable antelope will travel more then two miles from a watering hole or river. Adults are rarely attacked by predators such as lions because of their large horns and formidable fighting abilities, but the young, injured and old are vulnerable to predation by lions, leopards, hyenas, African hunting dogs and crocodiles.
Found in the southern savannah of Africa from southeastern Kenya, eastern Tanzania and Mozambique to Angola and southern Zaire, mainly in the Miombo Woodland Zone. The Critically Endangered giant sable antelope is confined to central Angola, where it is primarily located in the Luando Reserve and Cangandala National Park.
The habitat preference parameters are:
abundant stands of dense, intermediate to tall grasses 45-150 cm high of both sweet and sour species
open savannah woodland with scattered large trees and a lower stratum of moderately dense shrubland
flat to slightly undulating topography
well drained, sandy soil especially those derived from granite and quartzite
clean surface drinking water for daily consumption
Open grassy plains, short grass environments and thickets are avoided, except for adult bulls taking refuge in thickets. Sable are extremely susceptible to droughts with a severe, rapid depletion of forage quality. These often result in high mortalities. As they are intolerant of severe cold spells, it is essential that the habitat includes patches of thicket vegetation that allow refuge against cold and winds. However, if not confined by a lack of space or game fencing, they may migrate away from these conditions.