In this post Jacob Goheen and Abdullahi Ali discuss their recent paper ‘Resource selection and landscape change reveal mechanisms suppressing population recovery for the world’s most endangered antelope‘.

Ali has also provided a Somali translation of this post. Journal of Applied Ecology is dedicated to making papers more accessible and increasing engagement with those in the region of the study. We encourage authors to write dual-language posts to increase the international relevance and real-world impact.

The arid climate of eastern Kenya is harsh and daunting to outsiders. In this part of Kenya, however, lie the only known haunts of the hirola, one of the most beautiful—and the most endangered—antelope in the world. The hirola (a Somali word for “beige”) is a slender, shy animal with a long face and spectacled eyes. They graze in groups of females led by a dominant male.

Historically, the hirola was endemic to the Kenya-Somali border; today, there are only a few isolated populations in eastern Kenya. As the world’s most endangered antelope, the hirola has declined from over 15,000 individuals in the 1970s to <500 individuals in recent years. The reasons for this decline remained unclear for many years, and conservationists guessed that a combination of loss of grasslands and predation pressure were responsible for the low abundances and geographic-range contraction of contemporary populations.

hirola_group

Because hirola occur exclusively outside formally protected areas, research attention was scant, and knowledge gaps about its biology persisted. My fellow Somalis have a reverence for hirola (they are indicators of good grazing areas for cattle and other livestock), and I have watched their numbers decline since I was a small boy. As a young scientist dedicated to conservation, I decided to tackle this challenge and dive head-first into field efforts to save hirola. The chance came when I met Dr. Jacob Goheen, a professor with a passion to train African scientists working on wildlife ecology and conservation in their home countries. In collaboration with Dr. Goheen and through the University of Wyoming’s Program In Ecology, I embarked on dissertation research to reveal the factors underlying chronically low numbers of hirola. My collaborators and I sought to answer two questions: (1) had hirola populations experienced habitat loss via tree encroachment?; and (2) if tree encroachment occurred, did this result in intensified predation pressure on hirola?

We discovered that, between 1985 and 2012, tree cover increased by >250% across the historical range of hirola. Tree encroachment was associated with a 98% decline of elephant populations, a 74% decline in cattle populations, an increase in browsing livestock (mostly goats and camels) by 327%, and a significant reduction in rainfall. Although hirola avoided tree cover, there was no evidence that predation on hirola increased with increasing tree cover.

The extinction of hirola would be the first of a mammalian genus on the African continent in modern history. The current low numbers of hirola result largely from habitat loss through tree encroachment, exacerbated by elephant extirpation, overgrazing, drought, and maybe fire suppression. Guided by this research, the Hirola Conservation Program is working to implement a combination of rangeland restoration efforts (including conservation of elephants, manual clearing of trees, and grass seeding), increased enforcement of an existing protected area (Arawale National Reserve), and reintroductions to enhance recovery for this globally endangered species. The international community has an important role to play in supporting these efforts to bolster hirola numbers in eastern Kenya.

 

 

*Intey qaadan kartaa badbaadinta cawsha aduunka ugu halista badan.

Cimilada abaarta bariga Kenya ayaa sawir daran ka bixinaya deegaanka taasoo kuwa markooda ugu hore ay tahay mid dhib badan. Sikastaba ha’ahaate Kenya qaybteedan ayaa waxaa laga helaa cawsha Hiroola oo ah ta keliyah ee ugu qurux badan ahna mid halis badan ku jirata. Hiroola, waa xayawaan xishooda, dhuudhuban, weji dheer iyo indho feejigan leh, waxaayna u daaqaan koox koox dhedig ah waxaana hogaamiya mid lab ah. Magaca hiroola ayaa ah mid ay bixiyeen Somalida deegaanka, waxuuna yahay midab huruud khafiif ah.

Taariikh ahaan, cawsha Hiroola waxay caan ku tahay xadka u dhexeeya Kenya iyo Somalia; maanta bariga Kenya waxaa jooga tiro kooban oo meel gaar ah ku nool. Iyadoo ah cawsha aduunka ugu halista badan, Hiroola, waxaa ku yimid hoos u dhac, 1970 waxay ahaayeen 15,000 oo cawl, sanooyinkaan ugu dambeeyayna waxay yihiin 500 oo cawl.  Iyadoo sanooyin badan  lagaran waayay sababta keentay hoos u dhaca cawsha, kuwa xannaaneya duurjoogta waxay ku qiyaaseen hoos u dhacaan inay keentay daaqsintii oo yaraatay iyo iyagoo cadaadis uu uga yimid cunista xayawaankii kale.

Sababtoo ah Hiroola waxay degentahay dhulka ugaarka ah ee xadka Kenya iyo Somalia waxayna ka baxsantahay meelaha sida rasmiga ah loo ilaaliyo, cilmi baarayaasha waxay iska fogeeyeen deegaankan juquraafiga ee lagu yaqaano qalalaasaha shacabka iyo farqiga udhexeeyo aqoonta iyo ku adkeysashada cilmiga barashada nafleyda(Biology).

Dadkeyga Soomaalida ayaa xishmad u haya cawsha Hiroola (waxay meelaha daaqsinta wanaagsan tusinayaan lo’da iyo xoolaha kale), anigana waxaan arkay tiradooda oo hoos usii dheceysa tan iyo yaraanteydii. Sida saynisyahan yar oo u go’ay daryeelkooda, waxaan go’aan ku gaaray inaan gacan ku dhigo caqabadaan oo aan madax madax ugalo sidii aan u badbaadin lahaa Hiroola. Waxaa fursad ii noqotay markaan la kulmay Dr. Jacob Goheen oo ah brofasoor jecel inuu tababaro aqoon yahaniinta Afrikaanka ee ka shaqeeya duur joogta iyo cilmiga xiriirka noolaha (Wildlife and Ecology) iyo daryeelka dhulkooda hooyo. wada shaqaynta aniga iyo Dr. Goheen oo kasocday jaamacadda Wyoming qaybta cilmiga xiriirka noolaha (Ecology),waxaan ku dhaqaaqay baaritaan aan daaha kaga rogayo waxyaabaha keenay hoos u dhaca tirada Hiroola. Aniga iyo kuwa aan wada shaqeyno waxaan jawaab u raadinay laba su’aalood (1) miyay Hiroola garteen xaalufinta deegaanka?: (2) Hadii ay dhacday xaalufinta deeganka miyay sababi kartaa xoogsaaridda cadaadis kaga yimid xayawaanka kale?:

Waxaan garanay intii u dhexeysay 1985 iyo 2012 inuu ka dhacay dhul boob deegaanka taariikhiga ee Hiroola. Dhul boobka  98% waxaa loo aaneynaya hoos u dhaca tirada maroodiga, 74% waxaa hoos u dhacay tirada lo’da, waxaa sare u kacay 327% daaq raadinta xoolaha (siiba geela iyo ariga), iyo hoos u dhaca roobka. inkastoo Hiroola ay ka fogaatay dhul boobka, majirto cadeyn sheegeyso inuu sare u kaco cunista Hiroolaha markuu sare ukaco dhul ballaarsiga.

Salguuridda Hiroola waxaa uu noqonaya midka ugu horeeya xayawaanka naasleyda taariikhda casriga ee qaaradda Afrika. Jawaabta hoos u dhaca  tirada Hiroola waxaa qayb ka ah deegaan la’aanta dhul ballaarsiga, kadaridda cirib tirka maroodiga, xaalufinta, abaarta ama dab ka cay. Sidaa daraadeed barnaamijka daryeelka Hiroola wuxuu ka shaqeynayaa hirgelinta dadaalka dib uhabeynta dhulka loogu tala galay duur joogta (Rangeland oo kamid ah daryeelka maroodiga, in si macmal ah loo guro geedaha iyo cawska) kor u qaadista ilaalinta deegaanka (Arawale National Reserve) iyo in markale laysbaro sare u qaadista reysashada cawsha aduunka ugu halista badan. Beesha caalamka waxay kaalin muhiim ah ka cayaartay taageeradda dadaalkan kor loogu soo qaadayo tirada Hiroolaada ku nool bariga Kenya.

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