The Black Rhino, Sable Antelope, Hirola Antelope, Tana River Mangabey, and Roan Antelope are the most critically endangered species in Kenya, according to the national wildlife census report conducted in 2021 by the Kenya Ministry of tourism and wildlife, Kenya Wildlife Services, and the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI). This means that the populations of these wild animals have declined dramatically, or that the animals are now only found in a small area, and the chances of them becoming extinct in their natural habitat are “extremely high.”
Here is our guide with a few key details on where to experience and understand why each species is declining:
1. Black Rhino.
Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis
Kenya had an estimated 20,000 black rhinos in the 1960s, but due to poaching of African rhinos to supply the illegal international rhino horn trade their population decreased tremendously to less than 300 black rhinos just two decades later.
Today, Kenya has just over 800 black rhinos, with the number steadily increasing due to the joint conservation effort by both the Government of Kenya and private landowners’ to save these species.
However, even with marked progress, the black rhino remains critically endangered.
How to Differentiate Black Rhino from the White Rhino?
The most noticeable distinction between the two species is their upper lip. The white rhino has a square lip, whereas the black rhino has a hooked lip. Because black rhinos browse rather than graze, their hooked lip allows them to eat leaves from trees and bushes.
Where Can You See Black Rhino in Kenya?
2. Sable Antelope.
Scientific Name: Hippotragus niger
In the 1960s, Kenya was home to an estimated 265 sable antelopes, but their population has declined significantly due to diseases, predation, drought-caused food shortages, habitat loss and degradation, and inter-species competition, to the current estimate of about 51 individuals.
Adult Male Sable Antelopes are considered one of Africa’s most handsome antelope due to their distinctive white and black marks on their faces and sable-shaped horns, and they are the flagship species for conservation in Shimba Hills National Reserve.
Where Can You See Sable Antelope in Kenya?
3. Hirola Antelope
Scientific Name: Beatragus hunteri
The hirola is another critically endangered antelope in Kenya. These antelopes, known for their huge pre-orbital glands beneath their eyes that resemble spectacles and give the impression that they have four eyes, have declined significantly in the last 30 years, with an estimated 497 hirola in Kenya, down from 14,000 in the 1970s. The losses of food and space, as well as other factors such as predation and livestock competition, have contributed to this decline.
Where Can You See Hirola Antelope in Kenya?
- Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy
- Tsavo East National Park
4. Tana River Mangabey
Scientific Name: Cercocebus galeritus
Tana River Mangabeys are believed to be approximately 1,650 individuals in Kenya, and some of the factors that have led towards their decline in population include dam construction in the Tana River area, which has resulted in drastic changes to vegetation, changes to the water table, and changes to the frequency and severity of floods, all of which have had a negative impact on the forests on which Tana River Mangabeys rely on for survival. Agricultural deforestation, wildfires, livestock deforestation, and unsustainable harvesting of wood and other forest products have all also posed a threat to their habitat.
Where Can You See Tana River Mangabey in Kenya?
- Tana River Primate National Reserve
5. Roan Antelope
Scientific Name: Hippotragus equinus
The number of roan antelopes in Kenya has dropped dramatically, from 202 in 1976 to 15 in 2021. This is primarily due to poaching, as well as predators such as hyenas and pythons that prey on young roans.
Where Can You See Roan Antelope in Kenya?
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