With less than 100 of the critically endangered Mountain Bongo antelope left in the wild across the world, Kenya recently launched a campaign to save the rare African antelope.
The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service recently launched the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary, an 800 acre indigenous forest area on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The sanctuary will enable the rewilding of the animals and provide the National Bongo Task Force with animals to reintroduce into indigenous habitats such as Ragati, Eburu, Mau and Aberdares forests. This will help achieve a sustainable population in line with the National Mountain Bongo Recovery and Action Plan 2019-2023.
The Bongo’s population has been declining due to hunting for its striking reddish-brown coat, highly prized in Europe; its skull with well-formed and curved horns and for its meat. It has also been affected by diseases such as rinderpest and loss of habitat.
“Today, I am here to commission the construction of Mawingu Bongo breeding sanctuary for gradual rewilding of the captive bongos back into the wild,” said Najib Balala, Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary while launching the programme.
Patrick Omondi, biodiversity, research and planning director at KWS said the Mawingu Bongo Sanctuary is part of the implementation of the National Mountain Bongo Recovery and Action Plan 2019-2023. Its objective is to boost the recovery of the species in the wild.
The 800 acres hosting the sanctuary were given by Kenya Forest Service board and representative Charity Muthoni said they are committed to the growth of the Bongo population.
Kenyan Mountain Bongos are characterised by a striking red chestnut colour with about nine to 16 white stripes on either side of the torso and long, spiral horns.
The females weigh 250kg and the males weigh up to 450kgs making them the largest and heaviest forest antelopes.