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Hirola Range Map (East Africa)
Hirola Range Map (East Africa)

Latin Name Beatragus hunteri
Conservation Status Critically Endangered
Location East Africa
Colour Sandy brown
Length 1.2 - 2 m (3.9 - 6.6 ft)
Tail 10 - 60 cm (3.9 - 23.6 inches)
Weight 80 - 118 Kg (176 - 260 lbs)
Life Expectancy 10 Yrs (in captivity)

Main Characteristics

The Hirola is a slender antelope with a body length between 1.2 and 2 m (3.9 - 6.6 ft), a tail length between 10 and 60 cms (3.9 - 23.6 inches) and they weigh between 80 and 118 kgs (176 - 260 lbs).

Their coat is sandy brown in colour with a pale underside, but sometimes males have a grey colouration. They have a white stripe going from eye to eye over their forehead, a thin white tail and white ears that are tipped with black.

Both males and females have well developed lyre-shaped horns. Their horns have bold, conspicuous rings and they can reach up to 70 cms (28 inches) in length.

Hirola are active during the day with most activity being in the mornings and evenings when they graze.


Hirola are found on the arid, grassy plains along the border of Kenya and Somalia in east Africa. They live in groups of 2 - 40 individuals that consist of females, their offspring, and a dominant, territorial male. Males that do not lead a group often form bachelor groups of up to 5 individuals and when youngsters reach a year old they form separate groups of yearlings.

At certain times of the year these groups come together to form herds of several hundred individuals. During this period sometimes individuals change groups before they break away from the herd again.

When defending their females and their territory males will drop to their knees in a serious fight, as opposed to remaining on all fours when they are play fighting.


Hirola feed on grasses and forbs. They are selective feeders, only feeding on short, newly sprouted grass. They are able to go for long periods without drinking water.


Hirola breed during from March - April and after a gestation period of 7 - 8 months a single calf is born in October - November. Shortly after birth the calf is able to stand up and run around.

Females move away from their herd to give birth and they stay away for the two weeks following the birth of their calf. During this time both the female and her calf are vulnerable and an easy target for predators.

When the calf reaches a year old it will separate from the main herd and form another herd with several other youngsters.

Female Hirola reach sexual maturity at 2 - 3 years of age but males will only breed when they are able to successfully compete with other males, which is usually when they are 3 - 4 years old.


Predators of Hirola include lions, cheetahs, african wild dogs and humans. Hyenas and eagles will also prey upon young Hirola shortly after they are born, before the youngster and its mother move back to the herd.


There are no subspecies of the Hirola.

Interesting Facts

Hirola are also known as:
Hunters Hartebeest

The Hirola has been included as one of the 10 species to be investigated by the Zoological Society of London Edge of Existence Programme in 2007.

The population of Hirola is in the region of 600 - 1,200 individuals.

Hirola have enlarged preorbital glands beneath their eyes and due to this they are sometimes known as the "four eyed antelope".

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