Skip to content

How Climate Change is Wiping out an Endangered Somali Antelope

They used to be a fairly common sight on the Kenya-Somalia border, but in recent years the number of hirola, or Hunter’s antelope, has dropped to fewer than 500 in the wild. The name hirola comes from the Somali name ‘Arawla’ which refers to their rufous-tawny coat colour. It is also named the ‘Hunter’s antelope’ after a big game hunter who described it in 1887. The hirola population has declined by over 95% in the last four decades. They have experienced a consistent decline since the 1970s from approximately 15,000 individuals to less than 500 individuals currently. There are no hirolas in captivity. They are now listed at critical risk of extinction. Abdullahi Hussein Ali has launched a conservation programme to help save them. The initial decline of hirolas was linked to a rinderpest epidemic in the 1980s. This viral disease wiped out 85% to 90% of the 15,000 hirolas existing at that period. A few years later, rinderpest was eradicated but the hirola population did not recover. More recent findings identify rangeland degradation as the ultimate driver of hirola declines.