saving the world's most endangered antelope
Promotes the conservation of the hirola antelope and its fragile habitat in partnership with communities in eastern Kenya.
Dr. Abdullahi Ali is the Founder of the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP). Having worked towards saving hirola from extinction since 2005, Ali set up the HCP in 2008 to focus on hirola conservation in his rural home in Garissa County, eastern Kenya. With a global population size of < 500 individuals, the hirola is the world’s most endangered antelope having exhibited ongoing declines since the 1970s. For perspective, Black Rhino and African Painted Dogs —two globally endangered, high profile African mammals—each are estimated to number around ten times the global population size of hirola. Because hirola occurs along the Kenya-Somalia border, past hirola conservation efforts have been limited to opportunistic field visits and thus hirola’s plight received scant attention. Specifically, the conservation of hirola has historically been prohibitive because of cultural barriers between Somalis and other ethnic groups within Kenya.
Dr. Ali is an indigenous Kenyan of Somali origin and he is fluent in Somali, the language spoken throughout Garissa County, Kenya, regarded as the natural home of hirola antelope. Ali holds a PhD in Ecology from the University of Wyoming and is mainly interested in wildlife ecology and conservation with special focus on endangered species conservation, landscape change and it is impacts on wildlife. Specifically, Ali is keen on how species thrive in human-modified landscapes with the aim of developing best management strategies that integrate conservation with human livelihoods. In all of his effort, Ali is striving to ensure his efforts translate into practical conservation solutions. In recent years, Ali has rapidly established himself as an expert on hirola ecology, while also working hard to raise its profile locally, nationally and globally. As a byproduct of his efforts, he was recently appointed to the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, named a World Conservation Fellow (by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups), and work as a fellow for the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) group. His hirola research focuses on range collapse, habitat selection and demography of hirola in Eastern Kenya. In addition, Ali is interested in restoring habitat for hirola and livestock that co-occur and potentially compete for forage. Results from this work is currently used in making recommendations to save hirola.