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Angola to Save Symbolic Antelopes Threatened by Gem Mining (1)

March 11, 2013

Angola to Save Symbolic Antelopes Threatened by Diamond Mining

The giant sable, also known as palanca negra, is the name of the national soccer team. Photographer: Voishmel/AFP/Getty Images

Angola, the fifth-largest diamond producer by value, will do “all it takes” to protect an endangered antelope species used as a national symbol from mining in a nature reserve, state gem company Endiama EP said.

Endiama is considering moving the Capunda diamond concession it granted to KCC Lda., Yango Lda. and AM&BC Lda. in the Luando reserve, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Luanda, the capital, Endiama spokesman Antonio Freitas said March 7 in an interview. The giant sable, also known as palanca negra, is the name of the national soccer team and the emblem of the country’s airline.

“I can’t say for certain it will be moved, but it could be,” he said at Endiama’s offices in Luanda. “People were a little careless in identifying the location. The nature reserve was even approved by the Ministry of Geology and Mines.”

There are fewer than 100 giant sable surviving after 27 years of civil war that ended in 2002 and poaching, according to Pedro Vaz Pinto, local project manager at the Kissama Foundation, a Pretoria, South Africa-based group leading the preservation efforts. The animals weigh as much as 620 pounds (280 kilograms) and stand 1.5 meters (5 foot) high at the shoulder.

Angola sold 8.33 million carats of diamonds valued at $1.16 billion in 2011, according to the Kimberley Process, an international group with 54 participants representing 80 countries. The top producers by value that year were Botswana, Russia, Canada and South Africa.

Habitat Destruction

“Prospecting will mean opening roads and bridges, bringing in people and setting up camps in the bush, destroying habitat and a lot of disturbance,” Pinto said. The remote Luando reserve lacks police to adequately discourage poaching, he said. “This pressure on the animals could be the last nail in their coffin.”

“Endiama’s main goal is to protect the palanca negra,” Freitas said. “Management is meeting with all the companies to find a solution to meet the needs of all involved and cause minimal damage to the environment. We will do all it takes to protect the animals and comply with Angola’s environmental laws.”

Palanca negra is the Portuguese term for the sable.

There are 24 giant sable in semi-captivity inside a fenced 4,000-hectare (9,884-acre) camp at Cangandala and four herds totaling 50 to 70 animals in the wild of the reserve, an 828 square-kilometer (320 square-mile) tract in Malanje province, Pinto said.

“The response from Endiama is very encouraging, but we need to see it being implemented because a concession in that location must be blocked,” Pinto said. “This is an excellent opportunity for Endiama to do the right thing and show they can be a reliable partner to help protect our national natural symbol.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Colin McClelland in Luanda at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

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