World's rarest antelope GPS collared for first time

Feb 11, 2013
World’s rarest antelope GPS collared for first time

A first ever attempt to GPS collar wild hirola in their native range has been hailed a success by conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

A total of nine animals were identified by field-workers in Kenya who spent eighteen months monitoring their habitat. Seven herds of hirola were identified between Boni Forest and the Tana River in north-eastern Kenya. Adult hirola were carefully captured and GPS collars fitted before they were left to roam free once again.

Cath Lawson, ZSL's EDGE Programme coordinator says: "Hirola is an EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) species - one of the most unique and threatened animals on the planet. Over the past thirty years numbers have plummeted by almost 90 percent, and they continue to decline.

"As the sole representative of its group, the loss of the hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland Africa in more than 100 years," Cath added.

GPS collars were fitted to at least one individual per herd, allowing conservationists to record vital information on , group movements and behaviours.

in the field work closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service and local communities to locate hirola herds by distinguishing the footprints and faeces of hirola from those of other ungulates found in the same area.

There are an estimated 400-500 hirola living today, but these animals continue to be severely threatened by some combination of drought, predation, poaching, and .

ZSL's EDGE Fellow and University of Wyoming doctoral student Abdullahi Hussein Ali says: "GPS radio-collars record one location every three hours throughout the year, and provide us with vital information on which we wouldn't otherwise get.

"Because of the elusive nature of the hirola, identifying different herds for collaring was not an easy task. This particular habitat had also recently been hit by drought, so it made our job harder as it caused the hirola to disperse further in search of greener pastures," Ali added.

The GPS collars will drop off remotely in June 2014. Results from this study will provide much-needed information on the basic ecology and natural history of the hirola. This will form the basis of developing conservation efforts and monitoring of this rare and beautiful antelope in north-eastern Kenya.

Explore further: Endangered green turtles may feed, reside at Peru's central, northern coast

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In Iran, cheetahs collared for the first time

Mar 01, 2007

An international team of scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society working in Iran has successfully fitted two Asiatic cheetahs with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars, marking the first time ...

Catching camels in the Gobi

Nov 11, 2011

In Oct. 2011 Professor Chris Walzer and Dr. Gabrielle Stalder, veterinary scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Veterinary Science University, Vienna, successfully attached GPS satellite collars ...

Scientists track pronghorn by satellite

Apr 12, 2011

The pronghorn were captured in a helicopter netting operation on February 28, fitted with the collars, and released. The collars are scheduled to "drop off" of the animals at a future date through an automated ...

Recommended for you

Study: Volunteering can help save wildlife

8 hours ago

Participation of non-scientists as volunteers in conservation can play a significant role in saving wildlife, finds a new scientific research led by Duke University, USA, in collaboration with Wildlife Conservation ...

Great apes facing 'direct threat' from palm oil farming

14 hours ago

The destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia and increasingly in Africa to make way for palm oil cultivation is a "direct threat" to the survival of great apes such as the orangutan, environmentalists ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.