The Eastern Mountain Bongo Antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus Isaaci) is a large forest dwelling antelope that lives at high altitude in dense indigenous forest and bamboo thickets in steep valleys. It is a critically endangered species only found in Kenya, and which by the 1990’s was thought to be wiped out entirely in the wild. It is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group and listed on Appendix III of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
Fewer than 100 of these beautiful animals are thought to exist in the wild. The bongo is an extremely shy animal with exceptionally good hearing. This makes it very difficult to track, and determining their actual population is a real challenge.
The Bongo Surveillance Programme (BSP) was established in 2004 to protect and investigate the status of the remaining wild Bongo. Among its core activities are:
- Maintain core surveillance of the Abedares
- Broaden the area surveyed, including comprehensive coverage of Mt. Kenya, the Mau Forest and the Cherengani Hills
- Engage local communities adjacent to known bongo populations to continuously monitor their local herds
- Educate local communities about the Bongo specifically, and conservation generally, through the Bongo schools wildlife clubs programme
- Purchase, install and maintain a network of animal triggered camera-traps, which enable population sizes to be estimated through individual photo-identification
The BSP is led by founder Mike Prettejohn, who directs the work of a team of dedicated scouts. The BSP works closely with government agencies (Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service) and other stakeholders in conservation.
Their work has helped to prove the existence of pockets of bongo populations in the Aberdares, Mt. Kenya and Mau mountain ecosystems.
Rhino Ark supports the work of the BSP by providing funding and logistical support.
More information about the BSP can be found on the dedicated bongo website www.mountainbongo.org.