Saving One of the Rarest Animals in the World

The Houston Zoo partners with the Hirola Conservation Program in Africa to save the hirola, one of the rarest mammals in the world from extinction. Hirola can only be seen in the wild in Africa, they are not in any zoos. They live around many of the animal species we have here at the Zoo like painted dogs and gerenuk, by protecting this extremely rare animal we are also protecting the other wildlife in the area.

Here is an exciting report from our partners at the Hirola Conservation Program:

A herd of hirola inside Ishaqbini Conservancy, Kenya

The Hirola Conservation Program:works in Ishaqbini Conservancy, Hirola sanctuary and in Arawale National reserve and works with local communities to save hirola. We are in the middle of the dry season and only four herds of hirola have remained in Ishaiqbini conservancy. Other herds have moved out in search of pasture and water resources outside the conservancy. Within the conservancy, two poachers have killed one common zebra but our scouts have later arrested these poachers and taken them to court in collaboration with the local police. No Hirola mortality recorded in the conservancy this month which is a great news.
Six hirola groups exist in the sanctuary and two hirola females have given birth this month—July 2015. We recorded seven carcasses inside the sanctuary this month (one zebra, three male giraffes, one lesser kudu and two gerenuks. Regarding our collared females over two years ago only 3 out of 9 are currently on animals and most of the animals have been killed by predators.


Our field team in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers went out for anti-poaching exercise. During this patrol exercise, we recorded two poaching incidences along the river. We found remains of a buffalo killed but transported and unfortuantely no one was arrested. However, during the same day, we caught a poacher with kill of a dikdik (dwarf antelope common in eastern Kenya) and the poacher was arraigned in court.

Local scouts patrolling and protecting hirola from poachers
Local scouts patrolling and protecting hirola from poachers

In collaboration with international partners particularly the Houston Zoo, we initiated a world’s first Hirola Day to be marked in August every year.  As a starting point of this long-term event, we focused this year on awareness creation, with meeting of local youths culminating in a football match between locals clubs. In the coming years we will continue to mark this event.

Local youths marking the first ever world’s hirola Day!

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