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KWS hosts national workshop on Hirola antelope

Date Published: 21 Jun, 2011
KWS hosts national workshop on Hirola antelope

Hirola antelope which has been listed as critically endangered

Kenya Wildlife Service held a three-day national hirola stakeholders meeting at Masalani in Ijara to revise and update the antelope’s strategy. The deliberations of the workshop held from June 20 to 22, 2011 will guide the conservation of the hirola antelope in the next five years.   Hirola (Beatragus hunteri) has had a restricted range in the recent history although fossil records indicate it had once a pan African distribution in the dry ecosystems. It is now classified according to the IUCN Red Data List Criteria as a “critically endangered” species. This category is the last stage of the process ultimately leading to extinction of a species should the factors causing the decline remain. As the only extant member of its genus, the loss would be the first such case since the evolution of the modern man. Survival of the hirola has been of concern to conservationists since the early 1960s. The population has declined from roughly 14,000 animals in the 1970s to about 300 today. Much of its decline seems to have occurred between 1983 and 1985 during major rinderpest epizootic outbreak in the region.

The historic range of hirola in Kenya and Somalia is estimated at roughly 38,400km². The range of the hirola in Kenya declined from about 17,900km² in the 1960’s to approximately 7,600km² in 1996. Today only the central portion of the species historic range in Kenya is occupied. In 1963, a founder population of 10-20 hirola was released into Tsavo East National Park. This population grew to 79 individuals by 1996. In 1996, another 29 hirola were translocated into this population. There is an estimated 100 hirola in Tsavo East National Park currently.

Hirola Management Plan
The process to develop a Hirola Management Plan was initiated in 1996. The process was based on an interactive participatory approach taking into considerations the needs of the managing institutions that have embraced the multiple stakeholders of the hirola range in the planning process. In August 2002, the Hirola Management Committee (HMC) organised the Hirola Conservation Strategy Planning Workshop in Isiolo, which brought together representatives of hirola conservation stakeholders. The aim of the workshop was to review past hirola conservation efforts in Kenya, highlight the success and weakness in the species conservation efforts then identify ways of strengthening the success and mitigating against the weakness within a framework of a national plan of action for hirola conservation. The national action plan that was developed expired in 2009.

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