The Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci) is the largest and most endangered of the forest antelopes. With less than 100 left in the wild, they are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Bongos have undergone significant reduction in numbers and range due to habitat loss, poaching, human encroachment, and diseases. Through an international collaborative effort, our scientists are working to save the bongo and with it, the high-mountain ecosystem that supplies 80 percent of Kenya’s people with clean, fresh water.
Based on the National Recovery and Action Plan for the Mountain Bongo, the Meru County Government and two Community Forest Associations (CFA’s) – Kamulu and Ntimaka – have initiated a phased Mountain bongo sanctuary within the Mount Kenya Forest ecosystem. Phase I has established the Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust, which will manage vast State lands on Mt. Kenya in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service and provide a breeding sanctuary for bongo. This important first phase will repatriate mountain bongo from our partner organization, the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Loxahatchee, Fl, where we’ve achieved exponential population growth with captive bongo. Once in Kenya, the repatriated founder group will be intensively managed and bred at the new sanctuary adjacent to the greater Mt. Kenya ecosystem. Thereafter, future generations will be rewilded by gradually introducing bongo into expanded areas that will overlap with the Rhino sanctuary. The international bongo team, which includes the Meru County Government, the two CFA’s, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, RSCF and TCI, is also championing landscape-level habitat protection and effectively engaging communities throughout the bongo’s range to protect the species and its forest home.
The largest and most endangered forest antelope, the mountain bongo is a famously rare, shy and beautiful flagship species for Kenya’s high-mountain forests. Saving the bongo not only benefits this emblematic species, but also saves Kenya’s natural “water towers” that supply fresh water to Kenya’s people and some of the most expansive, biologically diverse ecosystems in east Africa. This project is supported by generous donations from a diversity of funders including Zoo Zurich and private donors.
* Latest news *
A major endeavor is underway to restore two iconic mammals to the Mt. Kenya ecosystem. The newly formed Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust leads a broad collaboration with Meru County Government, Ntimaka and Kamulu Community Forest Associations, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (Florida, USA) and Florida International University’s Tropical Conservation Institute to coordinate the recovery of mountain bongo antelope and black rhinoceros.