2013 Hornaday Award - Abdullahi Hussein Ali

The recipient of the 2013 American Society of Mammalogist’s William T. Hornaday Award is Mr. Abdullahi Hussein Ali. The William T. Hornaday Award is awarded to a student who has made a significant contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. Ali is a Ph.D student at the University of Wyoming where he is conducting a dissertation on the conservation and ecology of hirola antelope in Ijara District in eastern Kenya. The hirola may be the world’s most endangered antelope and Ali has made major strides toward hirola conservation because he is Somali and speaks local languages fluently; has worked hard to create and maintain a strong respect with local communities in Ijara; and most importantly, has a combination of motivation, patience, political know-how, intellect, and vision. Ali has worked tirelessly to educate local communities and earn their unwavering support. He is working in Ijara to disentangle the negative influence of range degradation and predation. Through a combination of GPS telemetry, analysis of long-term satellite imagery, a large-scale predator exclusion zone, and sustained community outreach and education, Ali is informing national policy toward this little-known species. Specifically, he is demonstrating that a combination of tree encroachment (driven by rampant elephant poaching in the 1970s and 1980s) and predation by recently-recolonized wild dogs and cheetah may explain the inability of hirola populations to recover in their historic strongholds. His research is proving to be crucial in guiding the Kenya Wildlife Service to identify sites for future reintroductions.