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Helping The Mountain Bongo Regain Its Tempo

Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci)

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Reserve entrance © Martin Mwangi

Sadly, the Mountain Bongo is losing its rhythm in the heartlands of Africa. It is among the largest and heaviest forest dwelling antelope (weighing up to 300 kgs) and is striking with its bright chestnut red colour and massive spiral horns. The population has been greatly fragmented into five isolated sub populations, all of them in Kenya. The Aberdare National Park, the Mau Eburu National Forest Reserve, the Maasai Mau Forest and the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve.

Previously prevalent in central Africa, it was over the years a primary target for commercial tourist safari hunting, which has seen the species go extinct in that part of the continent. Current threats to the remaining population include; the poaching of the species for bush meat (in spite of the fact that there are taboos against eating bongo meat by locals), the surrounding intensive small scale farmer community which is encroaching on the habitat, the burning of charcoal and the logging and collection of firewood, which contributes to habitat destruction.

Considering these developments project leader Martin Mwangi of the Friends of Kinangop Plateau hopes that a grant of $10,000 awarded by the MBZ Species Conservation Fund will help in alleviating some of these threats. The project that he leads has the primary purpose of engendering community involvement in the protection and monitoring of this Critically Endangered species. It will be focused in the Aberdare Mountains, which are located in the eastern most wall of the Great Rift Valley.

The population of the species has been in rapid decline for decades, from 500 in the 1970’s to less than 100 as of 2016, with the Aberdare Mountains hosting the largest percentage of the species. It is hoped that the project will stabilize and increase the population of the Mountain Bongo by reducing poaching and habitat destruction via community involvement. This will also be done by incentivising alternative income sources to poaching. With the encouragement of community involvement, hopefully this species can regain its lost cadence.

Project lead by

Martin Mwangi

Friends of Kinangop Plateau

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