Kruger's game capture team collared six sable three weeks ago. Three sable, two from one herd, were collared in the Punda Maria area and the remaining three sable were collared in the vicinity of Pretoriuskop. The Kruger National Park (KNP) started several research projects when the numbers of rare species in the Park, including sable, continued to decline in the 1990s.
A research team collared six sables in 2001 – two in the Punda Maria area, two in Tshokwane area and two in Pretoriuskop area. Two collars were replaced in 2003. The sable, together with eland, tsessebe and roan, are regarded as rare species in Kruger and herd numbers are under pressure, although there are healthy populations in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique.
"Even in the northern cape the freeranging sable are doing quite well," says Markus Hofmeyr, head of veterinary services in Kruger. Sable prefer a habitat with high rainfall and research in Kruger is now focusing on the Punda Maria and Pretoriuskop areas. The new collars are fitted with GPScellphone transmitters that take GPS readings at regular intervals and send SMS messages to send the sable's location to a website which can be accessed by the project scientists.
Previously, radio collars were used but the terrain made it difficult to locate the sable as the signal was often cut off by the undulating ground. The research will be conducted in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand, who will have post doctoral researchers monitoring the sable in the southern and northern parts of the Park.