Roving roan breeds with sexy sable
Ever heard of a roble? The only recorded instance of a roan and sable hybrid occurred in Kruger National Park.
By Romi Boom
In the area north of Satara, a roan bull joined up with a sable herd in 1987. The offspring of the love affair was a female hybrid. Ian Whyte, Kruger’s former large herbivore expert, dubbed her a “roble”.
Nobody knew where the roan bull came from, since there were no roan herds in this area. He spent many years with the sable herd and sired the female roble under completely natural circumstances. She was first captured as a yearling in July 1988 and genetic samples were collected.
The conditions that lead to cross-breeding usually involve a male of the larger, dominant species, lacking access to females of his own kind, substituting a female of a different, but closely related species. In this case Hippotragus equinus mated with Hippotragus niger.
According to Whyte, the recommendation was that the animal should be removed from Kruger. She was put in a large enclosure (1km x 1km) in the Pretoriuskop area of the park, where no other sable or roan were present. This was to prevent her from breeding and contaminating the sable stock, although she was most likely sterile, as she had not yet conceived when moved.
What a pity that she had to spend practically her whole life apart from a herd. The life of Kruger’s unique roble ended when she died from old age in 2006, aged 19. Old photos show that she looked more like a roan than a sable.
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