Numbers of this rare antelope have recently drastically declined and the species is now in danger of imminent extinction (2). As the sole surviving species of the once abundant Beatragus genus (3), the hirola's extinction would mean not only the loss of a species, but also the loss of an entire ancient antelope group. Discovered in 1888 by the big game hunter and zoologist H.C.V. Hunter (4), the hirola is a sandy-coloured antelope with long legs, body and face and a short neck (2). Male hirolas turn slate-grey as they age (2). The face is characterised by white 'spectacles' around the eyes linked by a narrow, white chevron (2) (5), and pronounced, dark scent-glands under the eyes become enlarged when excited, leading to the hirola's other name of 'four-eyed antelope' (4). The lyrate, heavily-ringed horns are beautiful but dangerous weapons, used in fights with rivals. The thick skin at the nape of the hirola's neck folds up behind the horns when the ears are pricked, offering a degree of protection against the sharp horns of an opponent (2). The black-tipped ears and long tail are startlingly white (2).
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