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The Nature Conservancy: A Matching Fund to Protect the Hirola

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A Matching Fund to Protect the Hirola

A Critically Endangered Antelope on the Brink of Extinction


“We are extremely thankful to the Ishaqbini community for gifting another big area of land that will be livestock-free. I am not aware of many places in Africa where such a thing would even be thinkable.”

Ian Craig - Chief Executive Officer: Northern Rangelands Trust

You can help prevent the loss of an entire genus. In a surprisingly peaceful corner of northeastern Kenya—between the east bank of the Tana River and the Somali border—sits the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy and the setting for a remarkable story. This area is home to the Abdullah clan of the Kenyan Somali tribe and its beloved hirola (Beatragus hunteri).


The hirola is a sandy-colored antelope with a white strip that crosses its forehead and encircles each eye, making it look as if it is wearing swimming goggles. The residents of Ishaqbini have been quietly conserving this landscape for centuries and regard the hirola as a blessing. With fewer than 500 left, the hirola is about as close to extinction as it comes. As the only surviving member of its genus, the hirola’s loss would represent the first mammalian genus to go extinct on mainland Africa in modern human history.


The best hope for the hirola’s survival is to contain a viable population within a predator-proof fence. Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust, Fauna & Flora International, Kenya Wildlife Service, Zoological Society of London and The Nature Conservancy are now working together to fund and build a sanctuary for the hirola. The partners anticipate the cost of this project to be $1.5 million. Construction is set to begin in spring 2011 and the sanctuary is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year.


Ishaqbini has generously set aside over 6,100 acres (2,500 hectares) of prime hirola habitat for the proposed sanctuary. Together, an individual donor and The Nature Conservancy are offering to match, dollar-for-dollar, the first $200,000 raised to establish and maintain the sanctuary. If successful, this recovery effort will grow the hirola population while providing additional benefits to the people who share their habitat.


With your gift we will:

  • Establish a community-run, fenced, predator-proof hirola sanctuary that is scheduled to be operational and protecting hirola by the end of 2011.
  • Fund continued anti-poaching and habitat protection and enhancement efforts led by community rangers through 2016.

Match Eligibility Guidelines: As of March 15, 2011, matching funds for the hirola protection effort will be available according to the following criteria:

  • Matching monies will be matched on a 1:1 basis ($1.00 of matching funds for each dollar committed).
  • Minimum gift qualifying for a match: $100 (US).
  • Maximum match amount: $10,000 (US) per donor.
  • Only qualifying outright gifts will be eligible for a match. Due to the urgent nature of this effort, pledges will not be eligible for a match.
  • Gifts must be designated specifically to the hirola sanctuary through The Nature Conservancy’s partnership with Northern Rangelands Trust.
  • Matching funds will go to The Nature Conservancy’s continued work with Northern Rangelands Trust and the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.
  • Gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations will be eligible for a match.
  • Qualifying gifts will be matched on a first-come, first-served basis through December 31, 2011.

For more information about the match, or to make a contribution, please contact

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The Nature Conservancy's Hirola donation's page is now live.


Protecting the Remaining Hirola


The hirola is the last remaining part of an evolutionary lineage that originated over three million years ago. Those that remain live along the Kenya-Somalia border in an area occupied by the Pokomo community and Ishaqbini Conservancy. Resembling a cross between an impala and a hartebeest, the species' most striking and endearing feature is the hirola's white "spectacles" that wrap around both eyes.


The Nature Conservancy's key partner in northern Kenya, Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), established the Ishaqbini conservancy to save the hirola in 2006. The Ishaqbini Conservancy is home to Somali pastoralists who voluntarily established a dedicated area for hirola.


But the number of hirola continues to decline and with traditional conservation measures proving inadequate, The Nature Conservancy, NRT and its partners created a plan to improve hirola protection, while also benefiting the communities that share their habitat. The effort involves:

  • creating a sanctuary;
  • providing anti-poaching security;
  • protecting habitat; and
  • creating eco-tourism opportunities.

These combined efforts will allow for a sustainable recovery effort and ongoing hirola monitoring and management.


You can help save the hirola by acting today. Your support will go directly to building and maintaining a "predator-proof" sanctuary. And thanks to a passionate individual who has created a 1:1 matching fund, you can DOUBLE your support by donating $100 or more (maximum of $10,000).


To make a donation, visit the Nature Conservancy's dedicated Hirola page at:


Note, by clicking on this link you have not made a commitment to donate. Matt

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Thanks Matt

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Thank you for this opportunity.

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