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Bongo Revival

4 min read

Updated 01 April 2022

A bongo looking away from the camera. Image credit: Matthias Appel
Picture of Chris McIntyre

By Chris McIntyre

Managing Director

*A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2022 Bush Telegraph newsletter. You can read our recent newsletters and sign-up to receive these in your inbox on our Bush Telegraph newsletter page.

Bongo Revival

Mount Kenya National Park, an ancient volcano and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is spectacular. Its rugged peaks, glaciers, forest ecosystems and scenic foothills entice filmmakers, adventurers and Africa enthusiasts to its scenic beauty. It is surrounded by some wonderful conservation areas, including Laikipia (a favourite among Expert Africa travellers), the Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve and the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC).

And it is at the MKWC that celebrations have been held for the future of the critically endangered mountain bongo. The largest of Africa’s forest antelopes, these shy, beautiful, striped antelopes are indigenous to the montane forests of Kenya’s highlands. But with fewer than 100 left in the wild, the species is now dependant on direct action to ensure its survival.

Since 2004, MKWC has released 18 mountain bongos (four males and 14 females) brought from zoos across the USA to improve the species’ genetic diversity, in an ambitious breeding and release programme. The first five animals bred through this programme were released in March 2022 into the forests of the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary, a stepping stone to full release into the wild.

In partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service, the ultimate aim is to reintroduce sustainable populations of mountain bongos into their natural habitat around the rest of Mount Kenya and in the Aberdare and Eburu forests. Much work is still to be done to ensure these animals thrive in the wild, but this first release is a hugely significant step in the long-term conservation of this striking species.

With extensive community collaboration, this impressive project aims to release 10 mountain bongos every year, with a long-term vision to ensure 750 wild mountain bongos are roaming Kenya’s forest by 2050. We will certainly be among the visitors hoping to catch sight of them.

If you’ve been inspired and want to find out more, give us a call or enquire now to speak to an expert.

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