Beatragus hunteri 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Beatragus hunteri
Species Authority: (P.L. Sclater, 1889)
Common Name(s):
English Hirola, Herola, Hunter's Antelope, Hunter’s Hartebeest
French Antilope Hirola
Damaliscus hunteri (P.L. Sclater, 1889)
Taxonomic Notes: Formerly included in the genus Damaliscus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Given a conservative estimate of generation time at nine years, the 85 to 90% decline (and continuing) since 1980 has occurred over three generations and meets the threshold for Critically Endangered under criterion A2, and on the basis of direct observation, decline in area of occupancy and habitat quality and levels of exploitation.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Hirola is endemic to north-east Kenya and south-west Somalia. Historical distribution is estimated to have covered ca. 17,900 km² in Kenya and ca. 20,500 km² in Somalia (Bunderson 1981, East 1999, Butynski in press). In Kenya, Hirola currently occur between Garsen, Bura and Galma Galla/Kolbio over an area of ca. 8,000 km² (Butynski 1999). Current status in south-west Somalia is not known, but its former range has been badly affected by prolonged civil and military conflicts that continued up to early 2007.

There is a small translocated population in Tsavo East National Park, outside the species’ natural range. This originated from a translocation of 30 animals from Garissa District conducted in 1963. It is thought that most of these perished soon after release and that the size of the “effective founder population” was only 11 to 19 animals (Butynski 1999). A further 10 animals were translocated to Tsavo East in 1996 (Hofmann 1996).
Countries occurrence:
Kenya; Somalia
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 1979, there were ca. 16,000 animals in Kenya on 17,900 km². Estimated numbers decreased from 12,500 in the early to mid-1970s to about 7,000 in 1977-83, followed by a drastic decline (85 to 90%) between 1983 and 1985 caused by the severe drought of 1984 (Butynski 1999). Ground surveys suggested a population of between 500 and 2,000 in Kenya in 1995/1996 (Andanje and Ottichilo 1999, Butynski 1999, Dahiye and Aman 2002). Somalia had ca. 2,000 Hirola in 1979, but has few, if any, today (Butynski 1999). Overall, numbers have fallen by 85 to 90% since 1980 and are still declining (East 1999, Butynski in press).

The translocated population in Tsavo East National Park numbers ca. 105 individuals, an increase from the 56 to 76 animals in 1995/1996 (Andanje and Ottichilo 1999, Butynski in press).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Hirola inhabit semi-arid thorn bush, open bush grassland, to light woodland, and lush savanna grassland. Their preferred habitat is seasonally flooded, open grassland with scattered small shrubs and trees on well-drained soils with short leafy swards of grass formed by fire, or by the combined grazing pressure of wildlife and domestic livestock (Bunderson 1981, Butynski in press).
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hunting, disease, drought, habitat loss, and competition with livestock. Lack of effective protection leaves it vulnerable to poaching. The development of the cattle industry, compounded by rinderpest and drought are continuing threats. The Tsavo population additionally faces predation by relatively high densities of large carnivores and competition from a greater variety of other wild herbivore species (but much lower numbers of cattle) than in its natural range (East 1999, Butynski in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This is one of the most highly threatened antelopes in Africa. Recommendations for the long-term conservation of the Hirola in Kenya have been included in a conservation action plan (Magin 1996) and a conservation evaluation report (Butynski 1999). These recommendations are now part of the current conservation and management plan for the Hirola in Kenya (Hirola Management Committee 2004) and are being acted upon by the Kenya Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the Hirola Management Committee and local conservation NGOs. There is an urgent need to improve the level of management and protection of the one natural population of Hirola, particularly in the Arawale National Reserve and in the Galma Galla/Kolbio region of Kenya. Community conservation and anti-poaching activities must be established over a large portion of the remaining range, but insecurity for conservation workers is an extremely serious problem in this region. Consideration should be given to establishing protected areas at Galma Galla and Lag Dere, and to expanding the Tana Primate National Reserve to the east to include at least 300 km² of prime habitat for Hirola (Butynski in press). There are only two Hirola in captivity.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.2. Benign introduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

Bibliography [top]

Andanje, S. A. and Ottichilo, W. K. 1999. Population status and feeding habits of the of the translocated sub-population of Hunter's antelope or hirola (Beatragus hunteri, Sclater, 1889) in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 37: 38-48.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Bunderson, W. T. 1981. Ecological separation of wild and domestic mammals in an East African ecosystem. Ph.D. Thesis, Utah State University.

Butynski, T. M. 2000. Independent evaluation of Hirola Antelope Beatragus hunteri conservation status and conservation action in Kenya. Unpublished report of the Hirola Management Committee. Nairobi.

Butynski, T. M. 2013. Beatragus hunteri. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 491-495. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Dahiye, Y. M. and Aman, R. A. 2002. Population size and seasonal distribution of the hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri, Sclater 1889) in southern Garissa, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 40: 386-389.

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Hirola Management Committee. 2004. Conservation and management strategy for the Hunter’s antelope or hirola (Beatragus hunteri) in Kenya (2004-2009). Unpublished report for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Hofmann, R. R. 1996. Hirola translocation to Tsavo East NP and new scientific information. Gnusletter 15: 2-5.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Magin, C. 1996. Hirola recovery plan. Unpublished report of the Hirola Task Force and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group. Hirola Task Force and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group, Nairobi, Kenya.

Scott, P. 1965. Section XIII. Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds. The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964, pp. 15-207. Collins, London, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2008. Beatragus hunteri. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T6234A12588805. . Downloaded on 24 August 2017.
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