Doe-eyed, beautifully patterned and adorned with heavy spiral horns, this antelope is a sight to behold.
Eastern Bongos are classed as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). There are fewer than 140 animals remaining in the wild, less than the total number of bongos held in captivity worldwide. The species has been declining dramatically in numbers due to hunting, introduced disease and habitat loss. Once common in the forests of Kenya and Uganda, the Eastern Bongo is considered extinct in Uganda. Only small, scattered populations remain in Kenya.
Conservation efforts around the world include designating protected forest areas in Kenya and captive breeding programs. There has been success with breeding bongos in zoos, including calves born at Taronga Zoo in April 2012 and at Melbourne Zoo in March 2012. International efforts have seen the repatriation of Eastern Bongos from the United States to establish a breeding population in Kenya. If successful, these animals will eventually be released into the wild to bolster the declining population.
A visit to Melbourne Zoo helps to raise much needed funds, contributing to the care and upkeep of animals like the Eastern Bongo. Visiting the Zoo also supports Zoos Victoria in Fighting Extinction, both here and abroad.
Eastern Bongos are also known as Highland or Mountain Bongos.
They are primarily browsers (leaf eaters), but do occasionally feed on seasonal grasses.
They are reddish-brown with white stripes on the back; their colour and patterning help them to blend into their forest surroundings.
The Eastern Bongo is the largest forest antelope, with males weighing upwards of 400kg.
- After bongos are born, their mother leaves them hidden for a week or so, returning to suckle
- Bongos are still trophy hunted by wealthy hunters; their impressive horns make them a particular ‘prize’