Hirola

Beatragus hunteri

Tusk Trust - Northern Rangelands Trust

Critically Endangered

Description

The hirola is one of the most threatened species of antelope in Africa. It is a medium-sized antelope with a light-brown coat with lighter under parts and tail. They have white markings like spectacles around their eyes. Males and females both have horns. They measure up to 125cm at the shoulder and weigh up to 118kg.

Lifespan

15 years (in captivity)

Population

80% decline since 2000. The current population is estimated at 300-500 animals with less than 250 mature individuals.

Habitat and range

Endemic to south-east Kenya and south-west Somali. Most (possibly all) are now found in Kenya. The hirola is adapted to arid environments and inhabit a range of habitats from open grassland with light bush to wooded savannahs.  

Diet

Hirola primarily graze on grasses but browse may be important in the dry season. They reportedly require very little surface water to survive.

Threats

The hirola has suffered drastic declines due to over-hunting in the past, and a lack of effective protection leaves it vulnerable to poaching. It is also vulnerable to disease, drought, habitat loss and competition with livestock.

Conservation

Recommendations for the long-term conservation of the hirola in Kenya are included in the hirola strategy. These include improving the management and protection of the natural population and establishing new protected areas. There is also a need to improve local livelihoods and engage communities. Intensive conservation efforts, led by the Northern Rangelands Trust and supported by Tusk, are maintained in the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy including the management of a protected predator-proof sanctuary and presence of anti-poaching patrols.

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