Regional Names

Afrikaans: Swartwitpens French: Hippotrague noir
German: Rappenantilope Portuguese: Palanca Negra
Nama: ǂNῡ !nā │gaeb Shangaan: Mhalamhala
Sotho: Phalafala Spanish: Antílope sable /
antílope sable o negro
Shona: Mharapara / Ngwarati Swahili: Palahala
Tswana: Kwalata Xhosa: Mpalampale
Zulu: Mpalampale Â
Average Body Dimensions Trophy Dimensions
Average male mass:  397-595 lb (180-270 kg) Rowland Ward Minimum: 41″ (104,1cm): Method-7
Average shoulder height:  4.4′ (1,35m) Rowland Ward Record: 73⅞” (185,5cm)
Spoor size front:  4.5″ (114mm) SCI Minimum (Rifle):  96 / SCI Record (Rifle): 128⅜: Method-1
Spoor size rear: 4.0″ (102mm) SCI Minimum (Bow):  86 / SCI Record (Bow) – 110⁴⁄₈



Angola (Royal species in north-west and common species in south-east) , Botswana, Kenya (south-east), DRC (south-east), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia (Caprivi Zipfel), South Africa*, Tanzania (except central regions), Zambia*, Zimbabwe.
* Top trophy destinations


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Sable bulls are combative. They fight each other and are known to vigorously defend themselves against predators. Older males are generally solitary, but are known to associate in small groups. Young males are driven from the herds at around 4 years of age and join bachelor herds until about 6 years of age. They then establish their own territories. Female herds with young are hierarchal and vary between 10 – 30 odd animals. Sables are diurnal and most active during early morning and late afternoon hours and first part of the night. Sable do not generally mix with other species.

* Read more in Game Animals of the World by Chris & Tilde Stuart

Hunting tips

Being water dependent it is always a good idea to determine when bulls drink so that fresh spoor can be found. Then tracking is the only real option. Sable feed in erratic patterns, so slow tracking is advised. An alternative is to establish territorial locations and scour the area.


Sexual Differentiation

Both sexes have horns. Males are almost black increasing to black with age whereas cows are slighter and brownish.


Habitat & Food

Reasonably sparsely treed somewhat arid woodland savannah with grass around 1.5″- 5.5″ (40mm – 140mm). It is a selective feeder preferring new growth and grazes between. Sable are extremely water dependent and it is said to remain within 2 miles (±3 km) thereof and drinks daily by moving into the water. Very occasionally browses but leaves form less than 10% of their diet and then generally only during late winter.

Rifle & Cartridge


Bolt Actions : Any decent bolt action rifle will do. So will single shot rifles.

Double Rifles : There is no need for a double rifle when sable hunting

Bullets : Premium bonded core or 7th generation bi-metal bullets if muzzle velocities exceed 2,700 fps (±825 ms).


Typical Cartridges :

.270 Winchester 150-gr bullets
7mm-08 Remington 150-gr bullets
7 x 64mm Brenneke 160-gr bullets
7mm Remington Magnum 175-gr bullets
.308 Winchester 180-gr bullets
.30-06 Springfield 200-gr bullets
.300 Winchester Magnum 220-gr bullets
.303 British 215-gr bullets
8 x 57 / 60 / 68 mm Mauser 223-gr bullets
.318 Westley Richards 250-gr bullets
.338-06 A-Square 275-gr bullets
.338 Winchester Magnum 275-gr bullets
.35 Whelen 250-gr bullets
9,3 x 62mm Mauser 286-gr bullets

* Read more in African Medium Bore Cartridges by Pierre van der Walt