John Frederick Walker

Giant Sable Shepherd given prestigious Tusk Ranger Award

Posted in conservation news, giant sable news by JFW on December 5, 2016




Last week, Pedro Vaz Pinto, the Angolan biologist behind giant sable conservation in Angola, brought Manuel Sacaia to London to receive the Tusk Ranger Award at an event presided over by the Duke of Cambridge and David Attenborough. Sacaia, the elder member of a team of “sable shepherds” who now guard the country’s endangered antelope, has been shot at by poachers and had his leg caught in a mantrap, but continues his work undeterred. He was born on the border of the Luando Reserve, the historic habitat of the animal, and has spent decades looking after the palanca negra gigante. This short YouTube video captures his modesty and his passion for conservation.

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Diamond Mining Threatens Giant Sable Antelope

Posted in Uncategorized by JFW on March 13, 2013

The magnificent giant sable antelope, a critically endangered sable subspecies that happens to be the national animal of Angola, needs all the help it can get to survive. Only about a  hundred of these creatures are left.  Diamond mining in its long-isolated habitat could be the death-knell for this walking emblem.


Colin McClelland, reporter for Bloomberg News in Angola, has broken a story on state gem company Endiama EP, which had drawn up plans to expand diamond mining into the Luando Reserve, critical environment for the giant sable.  McClelland interviewed Endiama spokesman Antonio Freitas, who stated that “Endiama’s main goal is to protect the palanca negra [giant sable].”

Angolan biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto, who has rescued a small number of the animals for a captive breeding program nearby, says he’s encouraged by Endiama’s response, but warns that “a concession in that location must be blocked,” as it would result in roads, bridges, and camps being built in what is now undisturbed giant sable habitat.

Click here for a link to this story.

A Certain Curve of Horn reissued in revised and updated e-book edition

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on August 2, 2011

A revised and updated e-book edition of A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola issued by Grove Press is now available:

“In A Certain Curve of Horn, John Frederick Walker tells the story of one of the most revered and endangered of the regal beasts of Africa: the giant sable antelope of Angola, a majestic, coal-black quadruped with breathtaking curved horns over five feet long.

As he follows the trail of this mysterious animal, Walker interweaves the stories of the adventurers, scientists, and warriors who have come under the thrall of the beast, and how their actions would would shape the fate of the giant sable antelope and the history of the war-torn nation that is its only home.

First published in 2002, Walker’s account of his quest for Angola’s legendary animal was called ‘riveting,’ ‘fascinating,’ and ‘compelling’ by reviewers, who compared it to Peter Matthiessen’s classic, The Snow Leopard. 

Walker joined the first post-war expedition that found evidence that the iconic creature had survived the country’s horrific 27-year-long civil war, but years passed before it could be photographed—and discovered to be on the brink of extinction. Now Walker brings the story full circle, taking the reader on a last-chance expedition to find Africa’s most magnificent antelope and the heart-pounding conservation triumph of its rescue.” 

A Certain Curve of Horn (Revised & Updated E-book Edition) is available for purchase at AmazonB&N, Apple, and Kobo.

Angola’s Giant Sable Makes a Triumphant Comeback

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on September 24, 2010

The latest issue of SWARA, the quarterly journal of the East African Wild Life Society, includes my latest piece on the rescue of the giant sable antelope, the national animal of Angola.  You can read the article here: GiantSable.Swara.

Giant Sable: Antelope from the Ashes, Part II

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on June 23, 2010

Part II of my  two-part series, “Antelope from the Ashes” has just come out in the July issue of Africa Geographic. Click here to read the final installment of my account of the dramatic rescue of Africa’s most spectacular antelope, Angola’s giant sable.

Giant Sable: Antelope from the Ashes, Part I

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on May 26, 2010

Those who follow developments in African wildlife conservation may have read about the recent successful rescue of Angola’s national animal, the magnificent giant sable.  I was the only journalist on the August, 2009 expedition, a last-ditch effort to pull this iconic animal back from extinction.  Click GIANT.SABLES.1 to read part I of my two-part series, “Antelope from the Ashes.” It’s just come out in the June issue of Africa Geographic.  Part II will appear in the July issue and will be posted here.