National Geographic reports that an entire genus of African antelopes – represented by the hirola, last species in genus Beatragus – is about to follow the dodo and the marsupial wolf into extinction. And it’s up to Somalian conservationists to save them:
Considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the hirola has seen its numbers fall by as much as 90 percent since 1980. The latest survey, in February, found about 245 animals in fragmented pockets of northeastern Kenya and southwestern Somalia, according to the Nature Conservancy.
In all, conservationists estimate there are fewer than 400 hirolas scattered throughout the species’ historic range of East Africa.
Now the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, a network of predominantly Somalian clans, is building a a new predator-free sanctuary for the species, according to Omar Tawane Dagane, the conservancy’s Kenya-based manager.
These conservancies, while setting aside land for protection of species such as elephants and buffalo, also provided exclusive rights to tourism companies. The majority of the tourism proceeds fund community needs, for example special operations for local children. The remaining percentage—about 40 percent—goes to fund conservation practices and employ game scouts to patrol and prevent poaching.
“This is one of the big reasons people are supportive—direct benefits to the communities and conservation and security value as well,” [Tim Tear, science director for the Nature Conservancy’s Africa Program,] said.