The SCI Lusitania Chapter recently gave a conservation award to Dr. Pedro Vaz Pinto, lead scientist for the “Palanca” project in Angola. The Palanca Negra Gigante, otherwise known as the Angolan Giant Sable, is a rare subspecies often described as the most beautiful antelope in the world.
Dr. Vaz Pinto is a researcher with the Catholic University Centre for Scientific Studies and Research. He rediscovered the Angolan Giant Sable after the country’s 30 years of civil war and now heads up the program to protect this animal, a critically endangered species. Ten years ago the program started managing the species, capturing individual antelope and monitoring the few surviving wild and endemic herds in the Luando Reserve of Angola. Last year’s census of the species revealed that there are fewer than one hundred remaining. The sable is under tremendous threat, mainly from poaching and inbreeding problems.
SCI’s Lusitania Chapter assisted Dr. Vaz Pinto with his research by helping to trace the last two sables legally hunted in Angola in the late 1960s. The specimens were tracked down and located in Mexico. As a result, Dr. Vaz Pinto will be able, for the first time, to collect DNA samples from giant sable that lived in the Cangandala Reserve of Angola.
This summer, the project will initiate a new phase of the effort to conserve the Palanca Negra Gigante. Approximately 15 antelope will be captured and fitted with GPS collars for monitoring.
The SCI Lusitania Chapter strongly supports this project and will be sponsoring part of this next research phase, soliciting other SCI chapters to do the same.
The Angolan Giant Sable has been the focus of other past SCI chapter projects. In 2001, the Italian Chapter of SCI funded an expedition of the University of Pretoria, the University of Luanda and the Kissama Foundation that successfully verified that the species had survived Angola’s lengthy civil war.
For information on this project, visit SCI’s website here.
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