Paul Udoto brings us the latest wildlife news
With fewer than 500 left, the hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri) is one of the
most highly threatened antelopes in Africa. It’s also known as the Hunter’s antelope. According to the International Union for Conservation (IUCN), “The loss of the Hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland Africa in modern human history.” The surviving herds live along the Kenya-Somalia border, home of the Pokomo community and Ishaqbini Conservancy. Resembling a hybrid of impala and hartebeest, the hirola is recognisable by its white ‘spectacles’.
Kenya in the US
KWS participated in the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC as part of the Kenyan delegation. The festival, which was held from June 25 to 29 and July 2 to 6, was an annual event attended by more than 1.5 million visitors. Kenya was the fifth African nation (and the first in East Africa) to be featured at the festival. The festival provided an opportunity for Americans to experience Kenya’s diverse cultural and natural resources.
Great Tusker Lost
The recent killing of Mountain Bull, one of Kenya’s great tuskers, reminded the world of Ahmed, an emblematic elephant of the 1960s and 1970s. Ahmed inhabited the forests of Marsabit National Park, on a mountain rising out of the scrublands of northern Kenya. His tusks were presumed to be the longest and heaviest in Africa.
Rhinos in peril
A total of 22 rhinos have been killed in Kenya so far this year, leaving just 1037 still roaming here. Last year 59 rhinos were lost to poaching gangs. At its peak in the 1970s, poaching was so rampant that rhino numbers in Kenya crashed by 90 per cent, from 20,000 to only 400 in the early 1990s.
“A critical part of our environmental conservation efforts is our stand against poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. We have established robust anti-poaching measures across government: from stronger legislation to specialised legal mechanisms and upgraded enforcement – we are resolved to ensure the survival of iconic species like the elephant and rhino.”