Did you know that the mountain bongo is the largest and heaviest of forest antelope? The males can measure almost eight feet from nose to tail, and five feet high! Yet the bongo is one the hardest forest antelope to see in the wild, so much so that the majority of the sightings are captured only on camera traps.
In the 1970’s it was estimated that 500 mountain bongo remained in the Aberdares, Kenya. However, by the 1990’s it was feared the species was close to extinction due to exportation, disease outbreak, a dramatic increase in poaching and destruction of their habitat. The mountain bongo is now listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, with figures suggesting that there are fewer than 100 remaining in the wild.
Thanks to the hard work of the Bongo Surveillance Project (BSP) trackers who monitor the remaining populations and educate local communities there is renewed optimism for the future of this magnificent animal with two growing populations in the wild and the potential to develop a release programme in the future. There is no doubt that mountain bongo have come perilously close to extinction in the wild, but BSP are doing their utmost to turn this around.
The project is led by the BSP founder Mike Prettejohn and a team of experienced trackers who spend time gathering data on the presence and distribution of the remaining animals and documenting human activity in Kenya’s Eburu, Aberdares, Mt Kenya and Mau forests.
BSP have an extensive education programme working with the communities and schools located closest to the mountain bongo territories. The Tusk-supported Bongo Wildlife Club education programme has helped change the future for the mountain bongo. The BSP supported the recent “Earth Day” through tree nursery and tree planting projects and ensuring future generations are also able to enjoy the meaning of “Earth Day”. These projects have been initiated in every school and community associated with the BSP project. Young trees are planted within school grounds and through the tree nurseries; schools are donating trees to parents and encouraging them to plant more at home.
Sarah Watson, Tusk’s Director of Programs, recently paid a visit to BSP and Kamburaini Primary School to see first-hand the great work BSP are doing.
Please help Tusk and BSP to continue to conserve this unique forest antelope. With your generous support Tusk can and will continue to make a lasting difference for African wildlife and rural communities.
All images provided by BSP
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