World's rarest antelope tagged in Kenya

29th Jan 2013

Nine of the world's rarest antelope have been fitted with GPS collars in Kenya, to help conservation experts monitor the species.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said this was the first time wild Hirola had been tagged and the GPS collars would help gather vital information on population growth, movement and behaviour.

Nine animals from seven different herds were identified, carefully captured and tagged between the Boni Forest and the Tana River in north-eastern Kenya, the organisation said. In the past 30 years there has been an almost 90% drop in Hirola numbers and there are now believed to be just 300 to 400 left in the wild.

Population is continuing to decline due to drought, predation, poaching and habitat loss, conservationists warned.

Cath Lawson, co-ordinator of ZSL's EDGE conservation programme, which focuses on unusual species, said: "Hirola is an EDGE - evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered - species, one of the most unique and threatened animals on the planet.

"Over the past 30 years numbers have plummeted by almost 90% and they continue to decline."

With help from local people, conservations and Kenya Wildlife Service identified the Hirola herds from their droppings and footprints.

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