Black Sable (also known as the Matsetsi sable and Zambian) is regarded as the ‘typical' sable as it was the first to be described and named in 1838. Often referred to as the black sable because it tends to have the darkest coat. In South Africa most of the commercial sable farmers crossed their Matsetsi sables (Indeginous to South Africa) with western Zambian sables in the hope to move nearer to the nearly extinct giant sable (that was larger with bigger horns.) Currently the believe is that there are only about 15% pure Matsesti sables in South Africa. The Matsetsi sable population in Zimbabwe is only 450. (was 24,000 in 1994).The sable population in South Africa is about 7000 (Commercial and in reserves). Therefore it can be concluded that the Matsesti sable population is less than 1500 and declining daily.
The sable antelope is sexually dimorphic, with the male heavier and about one-fifth taller than the female. The head-and-body length is typically between 190–255 cm (75–100 in). Males reach about 117–140 cm (46–55 in) at the shoulder, while females are slightly shorter. Males typically weigh 235 kg (518 lb) and females 220 kg (490 lb). The tail is 40–75 cm (16–30 in) long, with a tuft at the end.
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.
Both sexes have ringed horns which arch backward. In females, these can reach 61–102 cm (24–40 in), while in males they are 81–165 cm (32–65 in) long. The average lifespan of the sable antelope is 16 years in wild and 19 years in captivity.