Angolan antelope
© UnknownOne of the last remaining images of Angola's elusive giant sable antelope, last seen 30 years ago before the country's civil war.
A rare Angolan antelope feared to have been killed off during a 27-year civil war has been located, giving hope for the future preservation of the species, a government official said Monday.

Scientists at the weekend spotted three giant black sable antelope -- endemic to Angola where they are the country's national symbol and known in Portuguese as the Palanca Negra -- in two northern reserves.

"This is a huge step for us and it really pushes the project forward," Vladimir Russo, Angola?s national director of environmental management, told AFP.

"We were able to put a collar on one of the females which contains a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracker so we can follow her to find the rest of the herd. It's really great news, we are all very excited."

A project was launched at the end of the war in 2002 to find the elusive Palanca Negra, which is also the nickname for the country's football team, with fears that decades of conflict had wiped out the animals.

Until now there had been just a handful of sightings, mostly via cameras left in national parks or by local shepherds, but the team struck gold at the weekend by spotting the three animals by helicopter in the Cangandala National Park and Luando Reserve.

Russo said the plan was to try to find more animals over the next two weeks and then using the GPS trackers, round up as many as possible and take them to a specially-built 400-hectare sanctuary within Cangandala.

The giant sable is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.