Saturday 15 June
Hirola (Beatragus hunteri)
Hirola fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Numbers of this rare antelope have recently drastically declined and the species is now in danger of imminent extinction (2). As the sole surviving species of the once abundant Beatragus genus (3), the hirola’s extinction would mean not only the loss of a species, but also the loss of an entire ancient antelope group. Discovered in 1888 by the big game hunter and zoologist H.C.V. Hunter (4), the hirola is a sandy-coloured antelope with long legs, body and face and a short neck. Male hirolas turn slate-grey as they age (2). The face is characterised by white ‘spectacles’ around the eyes linked by a narrow, white chevron (2) (5), and pronounced, dark scent-glands under the eyes become enlarged when excited, leading to the hirola’s other name of ‘four-eyed antelope’ (4). The lyrate, heavily-ringed horns are beautiful but dangerous weapons, used in fights with rivals. The thick skin at the nape of the hirola’s neck folds up behind the horns when the ears are pricked, offering a degree of protection against the sharp horns of an opponent. The black-tipped ears and long tail are startlingly white (2).
- Also known as
- Hunter’s antelope, Hunter’s hartebeest.
- Damaliscus hunteri, Damaliscus lunatus hunteri. Top
EDGE of Existence:
Kenya Wildlife Service:
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
- When individual living organisms from one area have been transferred and released or planted in another area.
IUCN Red List (September, 2009)
- Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
- Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Ultimate Ungulate (September, 2007)
- Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. (1997) Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
Kenya Wildlife Service (September, 2007)
Hirola Management Committee (September, 2007)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
The Critically Endangered hirola is a grazing antelope that can be found feeding most intensively on the grassy plains in the early morning and evening, using its large molars to chew the coarse grass. Like many other mammals inhabiting the hot, dry plains of Africa, the hirola can go for long periods without drinking, and survives drought by storing fat and avoiding unnecessary energetic activity (2).Top
The hirola is endemic to north-east Kenya and south-west Somalia. Its range has been shrinking since the 1960s and it may now be extinct in Somalia. There is a small introduced population in Tsavo East National Park (2).Top
The remaining hirolas inhabit a narrow strip of seasonally arid, grassy plains (2).Top
The hirola is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Numbers of hirola have declined severely, from 10,000 in the 1970s, to an estimated 500 to 2,000 in 1995 to 1996; numbers have fallen by 85 to 90 percent since 1980 (2). Competition with cattle, severe drought, disease and poaching are all factors that have contributed to devastating hirola populations (3) (4). Unfortunately, the hirola’s preference for areas that are used by livestock puts them at increased risk from diseases like rinderpest and tuberculosis (3).Top
In 1963, 10 to 20 hirola were released into Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, which grew to a population of 79 individuals by 1996. In 1996, another 29 hirola were translocated into the Tsavo East population, resulting in an estimated population of 100 hirola in Tsavo East National Park (6). The Hirola Management Committee (HMC) was also formed in 1994, with the aim of conserving this species in their natural range. The HNC created the Hirola Strategic Management Plan which outlined hirola conservation measures for the next five years (7). This included creating protected areas, reducing exposure to livestock diseases, careful monitoring, and promoting income generating eco-tourism for this unique species (7); measures that will hopefully pull this beautiful antelope back from the edge of extinction.Top
Find out more
For further information on the hirola and its conservation see:
Authenticated (24/03/10) by Dr David Mallon, Co-Chair, IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group.Top
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.