Hirola Antelope



Beatragus hunteri


  • Death of almost 90 percent of the Hirola population from the infectious Rinderpest viral disease from the 80s and the 90s
  • Competition for food source as more livestock species overgrazed in grass ranges
  • Elephant poaching means more trees in grasslands and less grass cover for Hirolas to feed in
  • Frequent bushfires and droughts
  • Vulnerability to carnivorous predators such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs

The Hirola, also called Hunter’s Antelope, is the lone bovine species from the Beatragus genus and can only be found in the Kenya-Somalia borders. Its name is derived from the Somali herders in these wildlife regions.

The current population of the world’s rarest and most endangered antelope is less than 500 despite conservation efforts within protected rangelands and sanctuaries.

Not fewer than 85 percent of the 15,000 Hirolas were killed by the Rinderpest cattle plague back in the 1980s. The remaining population afterwards is then constantly subjected to many problems including lack or loss of main food source – grass – as more and more livestock animals compete for survival in the grasslands.

The decline of elephants due to illegal hunting also affected the hirolas as elephants control forestation. As trees abound in the grasslands, it means less food access for hirolas.

Bush fires and droughts in its native range while there is also the constant threat of being prey to wild animals such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

Population recovery is difficult for the following reasons: language and cultural barrier between locals and conservationists; presence of danger due to bandit activities across the Kenya-Somalia borders; lack of legal protection from the government; and resistance of communities to participate in the conservation efforts.