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Hirola Antelope: Why Is It Endangered?

The Hirola Antelope is a rare antelope that lives in the Hirola Basin of Kenya. It is endangered, with only 400 of these species left in the world.

  • Status: Critically endangered
  • Known as Hirola Antelope, Hunter’s hartebeest, Hirola
  • Estimated numbers left in the wild: 400

This animal has been on the IUCN Red List since 1988 and is estimated to become extinct in less than ten years if nothing changes to protect it.

Their numbers have declined drastically due to poaching and habitat loss. The Hirolas live in dry scrublands without food because their natural predators, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jackals, have been hunted out by people hunting Hirolas for meat or trophies.

With so many Hirolas being poached, these antelopes are now losing the tiny bit of habitat they have left. The antelope species is, therefore, at extremely high risk of extinction within ten years.


The antelope species is a rare and endangered antelope found in the Hirola Basin of Kenya. They are an uncommon type of antelope, with only about 400 Hirolas left. Hirola are known for having side stripes that go down to the ground so they can blend in with the wild grass.

They also have an ankle-length mane of long hair running from head to chest. These features make antelopes in Hirola highly camouflaged prey animals; whenever you see one, it’s usually too late!

The main threats to Hirolas are poaching and habitat destruction. This species is killed for its meat and horns, which are used in traditional medicine. Habitat loss is caused by deforestation and development.

See Related: Endangered Deer Species

Anatomy and Appearance

Hirola in the savanna of Tsavo West Park in Kenya
Demande Philippe / Adobe Stock

It is a rare antelope that lives in the Hirola Basin of Kenya. It is one of the few remaining antelopes in the world. The antelope is an herbivore and grazes on grasses. These antelope have brown fur and a white underbelly. The species’ horns are long and slender and curve backward.

The Hirola is a large antelope, weighing between 80 and 120 kilograms and standing 1 to 1.25 meters tall at the shoulder. Its sturdy body is covered in light brown fur with white “eyebrow” markings on the face.

Two superbly curved and rippled horns rise from this animal’s brow, coming to long, slim, sharp points that make effective weapons for defense or breeding-season disputes.

The Hirola has a long nose and, from the side, a dished-in face, giving it a distinctive look. Its ears are also long, but its neck is quite short by antelope standards, which gives it an almost bovine look from some angles.


These antelopes are found in adjacent areas of Kenya and Somalia, though it is feared that the Somalian population may be extinct. Their native range was formerly much larger. These antelopes prefer grassy plains as grazing animals that rely on speed to escape predators.

Hirola Antelope Habitat

The Hirola’s geographic range is on Africa’s open, grassy plains. This antelope is a grazer but a fairly specialized one. It does not feed on long grass but centers its foraging on short, newly sprouted grass. This means that the Hirola must move constantly from place to place, looking for new grass.

The creatures are crepuscular, feeding heavily mostly around sunrise and again immediately after sunset. These antelopes usually live in small herds of up to a dozen animals, though they sometimes band together temporarily.

Hirola Antelope Diet and Nutrition

The species are herbivores whose diet consists of leaves, shoots, and fruits. Antelopes can digest various plants due to their well-developed foregut fermentation system.

Hirola have a high tolerance for toxins in plants due to bacteria in their gut that break down the toxins. They can also eat during the night when other animals are resting. The antelope can survive in areas with little water due to their ability to extract moisture from their food.

Hirola Antelope Mating Habits

Mother and child  Hirola Antelope
Demande Philippe / Adobe Stock

This antelope species is a monogamous animal, meaning it mates with only one partner during its lifetime.

It is also a seasonal breeder, meaning it breeds only during certain times of the year. Antelope calves are born between January and March, typically during the early evening hours.

Antelope mating occurs during the Hirola’s breeding season. Hirola live in herds, with about five to ten Hirolas of both genders per herd. Hirola of different sexes and ages gather into large groups for dancing rituals, which allow females to choose their mates.

After mating, the adult males leave the herd to find a new one. The Antelope mating is an important part of the Hirola’s reproduction process and is necessary to continue this species. Female Hirola give birth after a gestation period of about eight months.

Herd structure

Flock of hirolas grazing in the savanna
Demande Philippe / Adobe Stock

Male Hirolas defend a harem of females from other males, with fights sometimes becoming quite fierce as the antelopes use their sharp, potentially lethal horns in combat. There are also bachelor herds of young males with no harems yet.

Unfortunately for the species, females leave the herd temporarily and give birth alone, making them tempting targets for predation.

Sexual maturity occurs at around three years of age, and the antelopes live perhaps ten years on average and may remain separate from the group for up to two months.

Hirola’s Role in the Ecosystem

Hirola in the Savanna, Africa
Demande Philippe / Adobe Stock

The antelope is an important part of the ecosystem in the Hirola Basin of Kenya.

This animal grazes on grasslands and helps to keep these areas healthy and functioning. Antelopes are also prey for other animals in the area, such as lions and leopards. By helping to preserve the species, we are also helping to preserve the delicate balance of the ecosystem in which they live.

Hirola Antelope Facts

  • Here are the interesting facts about species of Antelope in Hirola
  • They are endangered, with only 400 left
  • The species is not native to Kenya but migrates there each year
  • They live in the Hirola Basin of Kenya for six months out of the year
  • They are the most endangered antelope in the world
  • They are preyed upon by lions, hyenas, and cheetahs
  • They have a reddish-brown coat with white stripes running down their sides
  • They are about 3 feet tall and weigh about 80 pounds
  • They are herbivores and eat grass, leaves, and flowers

Conservation Status

Flock of hirolas grazing in the savannah of Nairobi
Demande Philippe / Adobe Stock

The Hirola Antelope is categorized as endangered. Only about 400 of these species remain in the Hirola Basin, where they can be found.

They are threatened by wildlife poaching for commercial reasons, habitat loss, and competition with domestic livestock for grasslands and wooded savannahs. Many people want to preserve antelopes because they are interesting creatures.

Anti-poaching efforts are also one of the many ways that antelope conservation has been carried out in the Hirola Basin, where methods such as population and habitat assessment are carried out.


A battery of hazards threatens the survival of this species, whose current population has dropped from approximately 10,000 individuals to 400 over the past thirty to forty years.

Direct killing in the form of hunting and poaching is the largest threat to Hirolas, but there are many other problems as well. Overgrazing and climate change have resulted in drought conditions throughout the region, negatively impacting the hirola populations.

Close contact with domestic animals has also led to the Hirola’s decline due to infection with various diseases. Rinderpest and tuberculosis are the most important of these. Species’ natural range destruction has also made it progressively more difficult for animals to recover.

Conservation efforts

Though the Hirola live in theoretically protected areas, policing is next to impossible with available funds. An organization known as the Hirola Management Committee, or HMC, spearheads conservation efforts to create more protected areas, predator-proof sanctuaries, and improved enforcement.

Wisely, they also seek to make the antelope valuable to locals by promoting eco-tourism to see the Hirolas. Reintroducing these animals to Tsavo East National Park has also been successful, with the herd increasing to at least 100 individuals since release.

See Related: Best Conservation Posters


African Wild Dog Conservancy

African Wild Dog Conservancy Logo

African Wild Dog Conservancy operates in Kenya to protect antelope species in the Hirola Basin through research programs, educational programs, and training in the local communities.

Final Thoughts

Hirola Antelopes are a rare and endangered species in Kenya’s Hirola Basin. Hirola have been threatened by poaching, habitat destruction, competition with domestic livestock for grasslands with light bush, drought conditions throughout the region due to climate change, and disease from close contact with domesticated animals.

Antelope-intensive conservation efforts include creating more protected areas and improving enforcement while promoting eco-tourism to see these creatures.

The reintroduction of Hirolas into Tsavo East National Park has also been successful! Organizations such as the African Wild Dog Conservancy, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy work hard every day to protect Hirollas through research programs, educational programs, and training local communities on how best to conserve this animal’s dwindling natural population numbers.

See Related: Goal of Wildlife Conservation


Why Hirola Antelope is a rare antelope?

The Hirola are rare antelopes because they grow very slowly, having given birth to no one younger than 3 years old! Hirola only every year or two when they’re mature enough to raise younglings alone. What does this mean? It means Hirola may go extinct before you even know it existed!

What happened to the hirola population?

This antelope species is an endangered animal. Only 400 Hirola remain in the Hirola Basin in Kenya.

The Antelope is a dark-colored, medium-sized antelope that lives in arid and semi-arid areas. It feeds mostly on grasses and herbs but will also occasionally eat insects such as termites or other animal matter such as bones (especially when necessary).

They are threatened by losing their habitat due to increased human settlement and tourism development, cattle herd invasion, unregulated hunting, and indiscriminate killing due to mistaken identification with other animals.

There is also competition for browsing resources from other herbivores, such as zebras and wildebeests that require shared resources for their survival.

Where can I find Hirola species of antelopes?

The antelope species is a rare type of antelope that lives in the Hirola Basin, Kenya. Hirola Region is one of the most endangered parks in East Africa.

What are the dangers to Hirolas species?

Hirola is an endangered species of antelope that is found in the Hirola Basin.
Hunters have been Hirola’s primary cause of decline, as they hunt Hirola for its meat or skin. Other dangers Hironas faces are a lack of predators, agriculture, and a decrease in range size.

The range has decreased from around 18,800km to 11,600km over the past few years, with agriculture being the main cause.

Agriculture changes grasslands, which leads to fewer animals living there. This consequently causes Hirolas to decline and have small population numbers.
Without predators like lions or cheetahs coming into Hirogen territory, they’ve been left with only humans as natural threats.

The species have been threatened by poaching, habitat loss, competition with domestic livestock or other wild herbivores for grasslands, drought conditions throughout the region due to climate change, and disease from close contact with domesticated animals.

Who would benefit if Hirolas were protected, and what would it take to implement them?

These Antelope species are endangered animals, making the Hirola conservation program difficult to implement. Hirola conservation work is difficult because Hirollas are affected by many stressors, including drought, hunger, poaching, and war. The Hirola Basin is also small, with less than 100 km2 to support this population.

However, one way people can protect Hirolas is to ensure development in the Hirola Basin doesn’t result in habitat fragmentation or loss.

In general, humans need to take steps to protect antelope species so that antelopes can live longer and healthier lives.

One way to help is to reduce the consumption of their main food source due to human encroachment on their natural habitats. Antelope thrive on a diet of grasses, leaves, and shoots and can live up to 20 years old in the wild, but they are threatened due to changes in their natural habitat.

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