Sable Antelope

Scientific Name:

Hippotragus niger

The sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) is an antelope which inhabits wooded savannah in East Africa south of Kenya, and in Southern Africa. They are diurnal, but are less active during the heat of the day. They form herds of 10 to 30 females and calves led by a single male, called a bull. Males fight among themselves; they drop to their knees and use their horns.


The sable antelope is sexually dimorphic, with the male heavier and about one-fifth taller than the female. The sable antelope has a compact and robust build, characterised by a thick neck and tough skin. It has a well-developed and often upright mane on its neck as well as a short mane on the throat. Their general colouration is rich chestnut to black. Females and juveniles are chestnut to dark brown, while males begin darkening and turn black after three years. However, in southern populations, females have a brown to black coat. Calves below two months are a light tan and show faint markings. The underparts, cheek, and chin are all white, creating a great contrast with the dark back and flanks. Long, white hairs are present below the eyes, and a wide, black stripe runs over the nose.


Sable antelope visit salt licks and have been known to chew bones to collect minerals. They eat mid-length grasses and leaves.


Sable antelope live in savanna woodlands and grasslands.