Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Four poachers have been arrested for trapping and killing Kenya’s most endangered antelope, the Hirola, which is threatened with extinction.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens on patrol in Kilindini area along the River Tana, North Eastern Kenya, arrested the poachers who had trapped the antelope using snares.

Wildlife Officers led by Cpl Ibrahim Haro saw suspicious footprints in the grazing field frequented by the Hirola antelope and after tracking them found four poachers skinning the antelope in a thicket.

The poachers were forced to surrender at gunpoint and were arrested.

Cpl Haro said the poachers, who are being held at Ijara's Masalani police station awaiting referral to a Hola magistrates court, had also killed a buffalo a week earlier and were on KWS officers’ wanted list.

He appealed to communities living along the Tana River not to hunt the Hirola antelope as the species, which is only found in Kenya, was in danger of extinction.
He said the Kenya Wildlife Society officers will continue to mount patrols to ensure the endangered species was safe from poachers.

The Hirola weighs between 75 and 160 kilogrammes and, according to KWS officials, is threatened with extinction from poachers and competition from domestic livestock.

The KWS and donors translocated 29 of the animals to Tsavo East National Park in 1995 and 1996 to try and protect it from decimation by poachers.
In Kenya's Tana River District, the district warden, Ibrahim Osman warned residents against hunting dikdiks which he said were also facing extinction.

He said Kenya Wildlife Society wardens recently arrested eight poachers with 187 dikdik carcasses. He said the game that used to be common near Hola town had now fled to other areas. He warned that anyone found with game meat will face heavy penalties.

What about now?

The Hirola Antelope, found only in the Garissa and Tana River districts of Kenya, is critically endangered. Only a small population of perhaps 1500-2000 individuals remains, despite efforts in the past to transplant populations to other areas such as the Tsavo East National Park. In-situ conservation is now seen as the species’ best hope for survival.