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Show us your sable.

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Not the best angle, for any animal, but I still quite like this shot, I am assume this is the same Sable as in the previous post




Sable Antelope, Nkanga Conservation Area, Zambia



A better angle.

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Since it was said earlier, that you don’t have a chance in hell of seeing sable in Ruaha and Katavi, I had to post some photos from both parks, I have already posted shots from Ruaha, but I have much better ones and a video. That’s not to disagree entirely and suggest that it is actually easy to see them in either park, because it is not, in both parks you really need to get off the beaten track. If you are in the main tourist area of Ruaha, you do have to make an effort to see Sable and put in time searching, venturing into the miombo, as I mentioned in my previous post, but that would likely mean, if your time is limited, that you might miss out on other wildlife viewing, if you are then unlucky and fail to find them, you could regret making the effort. The following Sable were seen somewhere south of the original park boundary, near a large open floodplain, called Ilambatikari Mbuga, we just stumbled across them, whilst exploring and going to look at the mbuga. This was the best view I have had, of a herd of Sable in Ruaha, this is an area of the park that is, seldom visited by tourists.





Artistically blurred. 










Edited by inyathi
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A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania, lists Sable as uncommon in Ruaha and rare in Katavi, I don’t know quite how rare they are in Katavi, I suspect it may be the case, that as they are almost entirely restricted to the miombo woodland areas of the park, away from where the main camps/lodges are, they are very rarely seen, creating the impression that they are rarer, than perhaps they actually are. On a normal game drive from one of the main camps, I doubt you would get into any good Sable habitat, and if you were to go and look for them, you would have to devote a lot of time and would need a lot of luck, so the same as in Ruaha, you could end up sacrificing other wildlife viewing, and not find any Sable. There aren’t a lot of different roads through the woodland, so if they’re not near the one main road through and not somewhere a bit more open and therefore more visible, you likely won’t see them. It was just pure luck, that we happened to spot a very nice herd crossing a quite open area, whilst driving back from the far south of the park to the main tourist area, had they been entirely in amongst the trees, and not out in the open, we could easily have driven past, without seeing them at all. We did see some more distant Sable, earlier on the same drive, so it may be that they aren’t in fact especially rare, they’re just very seldom seen, as very few tourists in Katavi, go to the more remote areas of the park, that we visited. After all, the book states that they are relatively common in the Rukwa GR, which is just over the Rungwa River from Katavi and I doubt the habitat is really very different. 
















Of Tanzania’s newest national parks, only upgraded to national parks in 2019, Ugalla River might well prove be the best park to see Sable in Tanzania, but there is a good amount of miombo in Kigosi National Park and I believe plenty of Sable there, so it could also become a great place to see them, once a few more tourists start going there. Burigi-chato also has Sable, but only a fairly small number, perhaps now that it is an NP, it will be better protected allowing the number of Sable to grow, as I assume that poaching has been a big problem there, but I don’t imagine it will be a great park for viewing Sable, it is at the northern limit of their distribution, B-CNP now has the most northern population of Sable, because it is in fact slightly further north than Shimba Hills in Kenya, that has that county’s only Sable. They used to extend a bit further north up the Kenya coast, but are now restricted to Shimba Hills National Reserve, otherwise Kenya.would have the most northern Sable population, sadly from what I can see, Sable have declined markedly in the Shimba Hills, so it may not be as great a place to see them as it once was.

Edited by inyathi
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Another place that certainly has lots of Sable habitat is the Niassa Reserve in the far north of Mozambique, so I'd imagine there should be plenty of them, at least in the parts of the reserve that are well protected, when I went there back in 2006, I didn't see very many and didn't have great views, but I saw a few, I'd guess if you went to Niassa for a reasonable amount of time, you'd have a fair chance of seeing Sable. These aren't great photos, but I decided to post them just for interest.  



Sable antelope, Reserva do Niassa, Mozambique by inyathi, on Flickr







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If you have never seen Sable, and are looking to go somewhere that offers almost guaranteed sightings, then clearly Tanzania would not the best choice, you'd want to head to countries further south, and should consider some of the parks and other protected areas, where many of the other photos in this topic were taken. Purely based on my one visit there, I'd say that the most reliable park, that I have been to for good Sable sightings, is Hwange NP in Zimbabwe.



Sable Antelope and Plains Zebras, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe










My stay in Hwange was at Little Makalolo, this proved to be an excellent place to see Sable



Little Makololo safari camp in Hwange NP Zimbabwe


The panorama shows the camp and the waterhole out in front occupied by a herd of elephants, it isn't obvious. because I reduced the size a fair bit from the original, but there are two Sables under one of the trees to the left of the elephants, if you look at the largest size of the image, then you can see them, although you might need a magnifying glass to see them clearly, in the full sized panorama they are very obvious when I zoom in, this next panorama is of the elephant herd, but you if you look at a larger version you can see three Sable bulls in the background in a gap between the elephants. 




Those panoramas are really to illustrate. that you don't need to leave camp to see Sable, you just need to keep your eyes on the waterhole, these shots were taken during the middle of the day, I suspect that the second panorama and the following rather closer shots, were actually taken at the end of a game drive, we must have stopped at the waterhole on our way back into camp, they weren't actually taken from the camp, but I took the camp panorama only 15 minutes or so later.  Little Makalolo and the surrounding area is thus a great place to see Sable  










It is very annoying, I only upload reduced size versions of my photos to Flickr, and unfortunately, the original RAW of this last shot has become corrupted, I must have created a Jpeg before that happened, but the only Jpeg I think I have now is this version that is on Flickr, I do have a folder with full-sized Jpegs of most of the photos, that are in my Zimbabwe album on Flickr, but curiously it doesn't include this Sable shot, unfortunately, I think all of the Jpegs that I created from my Zim photos, are on an old external hard drive, that seems to now be dead. I have backups of all the RAWs, but the backup of this shot is also corrupted. I don't know, if there is software available, that might be able to at least retrieve a Jpeg, from the corrupted RAW, with most of the software I've looked at, you can download a free trial version, but if it works and repairs your file, it won't let you save the file, unless you then pay for the non-trial version, I do have a couple of other corrupted Zim shots and probably one or two more from other trips, but not enough as far as I know, to persuade to me to pay for software to try and repair them.

Edited by inyathi
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Hwange Sables panoramas and montages



Seeing double 


Most of these next photos are what I refer to as montages, because they are stitched together from photos, that I know are of the same individual animal, rather than photos of different animals, in this case they are all happy accidents, I didn't set out to create a series of montages, I just ended up with overlapping photos in the course of photographing the running Sable. Initially I had just created the one montage (above), that I spotted whilst I was first editing my photos of Zimbabwe, but looking through my Sable shots, to see if I had more photos worth adding to this topic, I spotted a whole lot more that I could stitch together. I don't know if I just failed to notice, that a good few of the other shots overlapped or I just liked the first one I created and didn't bother with the others. 










I take a huge number of photos, in order to create stitched panoramas, I have a panorama album on Flickr, that now has over 900 panoramas in it and have countless more, amongst the photos that I have never put online, when taking a series of photos for a panorama, I am usually shooting handheld and I take the shots slowly enough to try and ensure the camera remains level and the photos all overlap enough, so that the stitching software, hopefully won't struggle to join them together. If it is a wildlife scene, often of a herd of animals, if the animals are not moving much, then all the animals in the final image should be different individuals. However, sometimes animals may move enough in between shots, that they appear more than once. I have occasionally purposely taken photos for a montage of a running animal, but as you are panning the camera following the animal, you don't have time to worry about getting the perfect overlap, so I'm usually just hoping for the best, if I do intend stitching the images. Doing this, you will likely end up rejecting some shots, because you took a burst of shots and the animal didn’t move quite far enough between certain shots, you need the animal to have moved enough, that there is always some gap in between, so that software as in the shots above, is stitching the background. 


Usually when I have taken photos for a panorama, when I am editing my photos, it is obvious which ones they are, as it is often half a dozen or more shots, and usually now, I take nearly all of them in portrait format, as that works better, that also makes them stand out. When I have shots that just happen to overlap, that were likely not taken with the intention of stitching them together, as in the case of these Sable montages, then I don't always spot them, at least not first time around, quite often when I am going through old photos, I will spot shots that overlap, that I have not joined together before, allowing me to create new panoramas and montages. With these newly created Sable montages, because I've just put them together and I obviously have the original photos, I know when I look at them, that I am seeing the exact same Sable bull, twice or in one case three times, but I like the fact that to someone else looking at them, it might not be immediately obvious, that they aren't in fact different bulls. The top image of the bull twice and the zebras, does look like it could be one bull chasing off another one.


Sometimes, as with the two versions of this Sable Antelopes in the landscape panorama, they are more like the conventional panoramas, that I always like to create, they were created using 4 photos, each one is stitched from 3 shots, I just changed the shot on the right-hand end, to create the second version. What is interesting, is that the shot at the left-hand end of both versions, was taken using my Canon EOS 50D and 100-400mm lens at 100mm, the next two shots in the first version were then taken with my EOS 350D and 17-85mm lens at 85mm and in the second version, the shot on the right-hand end was taken with my 50D at 100mm. This tells me, that I obviously could not have taken the photos, intending to create a stitched panorama and I’ve now learned that the stitching software I was using, in this case Photoshop, can stitch photos taken at different focal lengths, as long as they clearly overlap, I didn’t know that this was possible, it obviously helped that there wasn’t a huge difference in focal length. These panoramas are therefore entirely happy accidents, in the first version, there is a time difference of around 2.5 minutes between the photos at each end, plenty of time for the antelopes to have moved, so while there are 19 Sables in the image, likely some of them appear more than once. It is always tempting, with a panorama of a herd of animals, to count them, but as these examples show, you may be counting the same animals twice, the second version after all, only has 16 Sables. If I had taken the photos, to create a panorama, then they would likely all be different animals, and worth counting. When I do count animals in panoramas I’ve created, if the number seems remarkable, I do check the original photos, to try and confirm that they are all different animals, in the finished panorama.  






Sable are very much woodland animals, I’d guess it could perhaps be something to do with the artificial waterholes in Hwange, that brings them out into the open like this and makes it such a great place to see them. I’ve only been to Hwange once, but I didn’t get the impression, that it was unusual to see them in the open like this.




In this last panorama there are four Sables, but in fact, since all of the other photos, I have of these Sables at the Little Makalolo waterhole, show only three at most, there can only have been three, so I'd assume that the Sable about to drink and the one in front of the group of three, are actually the same animal, even knowing that, I still like the image, although it is not perfect, as when I took the right hand of the two photos, I was focused on the elephant, so the Sable is slightly out of focus, but less so, than in another version I created from a different photo of the elephant. Whilst these images might arguably be called fake, I like them and they illustrate, that Hwange is a great place to see Sable Antelope.

Edited by inyathi
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3 different versions of the same image.

Chobe NP a few years ago.


Sable Antelope


Sable Antelope


Sable Antelope


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@inyathi am much enjoying these posts as African antelopes are my favourites and sable and roan top the list for me.

Here are a few posts from Nanzhila again.








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@CaracalThanks, I regret that I have not been to Nanzhila, it is obviously an amazing place, I have though seen Sable in Kafue in the miombo woodland on the drive out to Busanga, I thought I'd mentioned this, but if I did, it wasn't in this topic, I know I have in the past mentioned that, some of the worst tsetses I've ever encountered were on that drive, I don't have any photos of the Sable, so I guess they were too far away, to be worth try to get shots, that particular safari, was my last pre-digital safari, so I was still raking 35mm slide film, that meant I couldn't take almost unlimited photos as I can now, otherwise I would likely have photos of them. I can well imagine given the size of Kafue, that it could well have the largest population of Sable of any single park, but I don't know that for certain, it certainly might be the place to go to see large herds of them.


I posted the next two shots from Hwange in the Oryx topic 






I've only just uploaded the next one, so had not posted it before




This Gemsbok had perhaps got a little lost and was hanging out with these Sable for company and safety, Hwange is the northeastern limit of the Gemsbok's range, what makes it interesting is that Sable are a water dependent species that have to drink, whereas Gemsbok are not, they can get all of the moisture they need from their food, they are an arid and semi-arid country species, not a woodland species like Sable, you would not normally expect to see them in the same habitat, never mind together, I don't think Gemsbok are at all common in Hwange and are not often seen.   

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