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Animal Info - Hirola

(Other Names: 亨氏大羚羊, Hunter's Antelope, Hunter's Hartebeest)

Beatragus hunteri (Damaliscus hunteri)

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Birth Season, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Hirola #1 and Hirola #2 (Huffman 2004) 

The hirola weighs between 75 - 160 kg (165 - 350 lb). It is found in a seasonally arid region of grassy plains between dry acacia bush and coastal forest. The hirola is crepuscular and feeds mostly on grasses. It is able to go without water. Female hirola with young form groups of between 5 - 40, often including a single territorial male. All-male groups are common.

Since the 1960's the hirola has occupied a restricted range along the border of Kenya and Somalia, although in 1997 it was considered possibly to have become extinct in Somalia. Its numbers increased from about 1000 in the early 1960's to 14,000 in the early 1970's. It then underwent two drastic declines, from 14,000 down to about 2000 from 1976 - 1978 and from 2000 to 300 in 1995. In 2000, it was confined to a small area of southeastern Kenya, while its status in Somalia was not known.

The cause of the hirola's first decline is not known. The second decline is attributed to a reduction in its habitat, Somalian poachers and increased competition with domestic livestock.


Tidbits

*** The hirola is one of the world's rarest mammals.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1970's - 1980's: Rare
  • 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2006: Critically Endangered (Criteria: A1a) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2006)

Countries Where the Hirola Is Currently Found:

2003: Occurs in Kenya and Somalia. (IUCN 2004)

Taxonomy:

Based on DNA evidence, it has been concluded that the hirola differs sufficiently from other species in the genus Damaliscus that it should be placed in its own genus, Beatragus. (IUCN 2006)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

By 1963 the hirola already had a very restricted range along the border of Kenya and Somalia, but its numbers were not believed to be shrinking, since it was not subject to serious poaching and man's existing use of its habitat (pastoralism) was not considered to conflict with its needs (Grimwood 1964). In 1972-3, the hirola was still confined to a strip of land between the Tana and Juba Rivers in Kenya and Somalia (mostly in Kenya), but its range was thought to have increased over the previous 50 years and its numbers had increased markedly compared to the 1960's. As of 1977, the hirola's range in Kenya was thought to cover about 12,000 sq km (4600 sq mi) and its range in Somalia 2-3000 sq km (770 - 1200 sq mi), and its population was considered healthy (Bunderson 1977). However, between 1976 and 1978 the hirola experienced a drastic decline in numbers. Around 1995 it experienced a further drastic decline. In 1995 it occurred in the wild in a 23,000 sq km (8900 sq mi) area in northeast Kenya and southwest Somalia.  

More recently, the hirola was confined to a small area of the plains in the Garissa district of southeastern Kenya. The status of the population in Somalia was not known. (Entwistle & Dunstone 2000)

Distribution Map (6 Kb GIF) (African Mammals Databank 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The causes of the hirola's drastic decline from 1976 to 1978 are unknown, although competition with domestic cattle had been suggested. Its decline in the middle 1990's was thought to be due to a reduction in its habitat, Somalian poachers and increased competition with domestic livestock.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The hirola weighs between 75 - 160 kg (165 - 350 lb).

Habitat:

The hirola is found in a seasonally arid region of grassy plains between dry acacia bush and coastal forest.

The hirola is one of the species that live in both the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa and Horn of Africa Biodiversity Hotspots (Cons. Intl.) and the Horn of Africa Deserts Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Birth Season:

Most births occur at the beginning of the short rains from October - November. 

Diet:

Its diet consists mainly of grass.

Behavior:

The hirola is crepuscular. It is able to go without water.

Social Organization:

Female hirola with young form groups of between 5 - 40, often including a single territorial male. All-male groups are common.


References

African Mammals Databank 2004, Bunderson 1977, Burton & Pearson 1987, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Entwistle & Dunstone 2000, Fauna & Flora News 1996, Grimwood 1964, Huffman 2004, IUCN 1966, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Macdonald 1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1963, Oryx 1976c, Oryx 1995d, Oryx 1996, Oryx 1997c


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Last modified: May 14, 2006;

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