3 September 2012

Kenya: World's Rarest Antelope Gets New Home

Photo: The Nature Conservancy
Relocated hirola in the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy area in Kenya.

One of the world's rarest antelope now has a new home in Marasabit. The Kenya Wildlife Service and the Northern Rangeland Trust have successfully introduced the rare species of the antelope - the hirola - to a sanctuary in Ishaqbini. The hirola is the world's most endangered antelope having rapidly declined from roughly 14,000 in the 1970s to just about 430 today.

It is only found in small pockets of bushland in Kenya and Somalia. It is also said that it is likely to be the first mammal to become extinct in Africa in modern history if steps are not taken protect it. In collaboration with KWS, the Northern Rangeland Trust have completed, with the help of the Nature Conservancy, a 3,000 acre predator-proof sanctuary.

The aim of the sanctuary is to protect endangered animals by providing a secure environment for them to increase in population. It is seen by experts as possibly the last effort to save the hirola from extinction. The six-day operation saw the hirolas being tagged and individually airlifted by helicopter to the new sactuary from the Tana area and the Somali border.

Two oryx, eight topi, eight zebra and a few giraffes were also transported to the safe-haven. The capture and relocation was a success with no deaths recorded. The team also managed to remove six cheetahs and six hyenas and place them outside the fenced area. The future looks hopeful for the Hirola with the establishment of the new sanctuary in Kenya, and the animals will continue to be monitored.

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