Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hirola - Four-Eyed Antelope

The hirola is a critically endangered species of antelope that inhabits the arid plains between Somalia and Kenya. It is the only living member of the Beatragus genus and has declined in population in recent years to a current estimate of only 500 to 1200 remaining animals.

The hirola’s “four-eyed antelope” nickname stems from the large scent glands these animals have just below their eyes. When the hirola becomes excited these glands become enlarged, giving them the appearance of having a second set of eyes. Hirolas can also be characterized by their large and fearsome horns, which make for a formidable weapon to be used against rivals.

Photo credit: ARKive
Hirolas generally weigh between 175 and 260lbs and feed on the course grasses that grow in their arid habitat. Females and young hirolas live in groups of 5-40 animals, with mature males either living with a group or defending their own territories depending upon population density and food supply. Like many animals that live in dry climates, hirolas can survive for exceedingly long periods without water. 

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