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Sable antelope
Asset 15

Sable antelope

Sable in Africa

The sable is one of Africa’s most handsome antelope and renowned for its combative nature, able even to face down lions. Shy, and restricted in range, sightings of this species are always special.


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Quick facts about Sable antelope

Scientific name: Hippotragus niger Habitat: Savannah woodland
IUCN status: Least Concern Adult weight: 220–235kg

The sable belongs to the ‘horse-like’ antelope tribe (Hippotraginae), along with oryx and the slightly larger roan. Scientists recognise four subspecies, among which the giant sable of Angola is Critically Endangered.

Adult males are a striking glossy black, with a white belly and badger-like white face stripes. Their majestic profile is accentuated by a powerful neck and long, backward-arching horns. Females and young are slimmer and chestnut-brown, with shorter horns.

Small herds of females and young, accompanied by a single bull, frequent moist savanna woodland, where they both browse and graze. Males defend the herd against predators, going down on their knees to strike sweeping blows with their horns. They are known to have killed lions.


165cm

Record horn length (male)

3 years

Age at which young male leaves natal herd

11

Range countries

50–60,000

Estimated population (IUCN, 2017)

Africa's top camps for seeing sable

Based on 199 reports by our travellers since May 2018, the camps below have the best chances of sighting sable. Simply follow the key below.


Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for sable antelope

% of travellers who saw sable antelope

Top 10 camps for sable antelope

% of travellers who saw sable antelope

Where to see sable in Africa

Sable range from south-eastern Kenya to northern South Africa. Always quick to retreat from disturbance, they are among more prized antelope sightings on safari.


Top tips for viewing sable

Sable are never easy to find. The largest populations occur in the miombo and mopane woodland belts of southern Tanzania, western Zambia and northern Zimbabwe and Botswana. Top spots include Selous (Tanzania), Hwange and Matopos (Zimbabwe), Moremi (Botswana) and Liwonde (Malawi), while a small herd in Kenya’s Shimba Hills National Reserve also offer reliable viewing.

Like roan, their close cousins, sable seldom linger in the open, but their daily visits to water offer an opportunity to observe the herd, with youngsters shepherded carefully among the adults. Be content to watch from a distance, as the noise of vehicles will often send them retreating towards cover. Lone bulls may be confident enough to allow a closer approach.

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Holiday ideas to see sable

Based on our travellers experiences, these are the holidays which will give you the best chances of good sable sightings


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Rock Hare Self-drive Safari

20 days • 12 locations
WINDHOEK AIRPORT TO VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT

An in-depth look at Namibia from the Namib Desert to Victoria Falls and everything in between. This three-week self-drive adventure includes unrivalled mix of environments and great value.

US$4,990 - US$6,340 per person

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Utaka Cichlid Safari

10 days • 3 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Explore two of Malawi's safari parks - Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park - before finishing your trip with some beach time relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,730 - US$4,240 per person

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Purple Roller Safari

8 days • 2 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Explore the varied habitats and terrain of Kafue National Park with stays in two wonderfully remote bushcamps. Two sister-camps offer access to the park’s centre as well as the wildlife-rich Busanga Plains.

US$7,800 - US$7,800 per person

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Orange Cap Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Combine a safari in the lush and resurgent Liwonde National Park with down time at an island eco-retreat in the middle of Lake Malawi. A great way to explore Malawi.

US$3,860 - US$4,360 per person

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Red Zebra Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Explore two of Malawi's highlights with a safari in rugged, remote Majete Wildlife Reserve before some beach time relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,350 - US$4,200 per person

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Wild Dog Safari

13 days • 5 locations
KASANE AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

An in-depth discovery of northern Botswana’s wilderness, from Chobe and the private Kwando Reserve to the Moremi and iconic Okavango Delta with a great variety of activities and wildlife.

US$9,180 - US$15,600 per person

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Great Egret Safari

12 days • 4 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT

A wonderfully varied adventure to Botswana and Zimbabwe combining three fantastic safari areas, a luxury river cruise and the mighty Victoria Falls.

US$7,250 - US$11,630 per person

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Ground Hornbill Safari

9 days • 3 locations
VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT TO BULAWAYO AIRPORT

This Zimbabwean odyssey explores Hwange National Park from two small camps, renowned for their great guiding, before ending with insights into cultural history, a little luxury and first-class rhino tracking in the Matobo Hills.

US$4,890 - US$6,820 per person

View all holidays to Africa

Our top destinations for sable

Click below for detailed information about sable in these countries, including our latest sightings data from the camps and lodges there.


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