They are antelope, also called Hunters Hartebeest. The flighty, caramel colored creatures have impala-like horns and their unusual facial markings give them an appearance of wearing sunglasses.
Their present home range is off the main tourist drag in areas that most American tourists are advised not to visit – Tsavo East and Ishaqbini Conservancy, which borders the Tana river north to the Somali border.
Hirolas have roamed the African plains since antiquity, but now are classified as critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data List Criteria. One notch away from extinction.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials say the Hirola’s decline is due to poaching, loss of preferable habitat and predation.
Plans are in the works to set up protected areas within certain sanctuaries so the Hirola can increase their population undisturbed.
The KWS and Northern Rangelands Trust have been successful in bringing various species back from the clutches of extinction, so no doubt they will do the same with the Hirola.
Yet some people say, “why all the fuss – it’s just another antelope…”
Every species, no matter how insignificant we think it is, is vital to keep the earth ticking in perfect rhythm. The more species we lose, the faster our world will skip beats and slip into extinction.
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