Global efforts to guarantee the survival of the critically endangered Mountain Bongo antelope, have received a major boost with the recent birth of four calves at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy near Nanyuki Town.
Just a few days to the just concluded General Elections, the birth of the four calves renewed hope for the survival of the rare Mountain Bongo Antelope. In recent years, the Mountain bongo rehabilitation program has captured the attention of wildlife conservation worldwide. It has focused attention on the importance of saving the Mount Kenya ecosystem.
Speaking when he confirmed the development, Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Manager, Donald Bunge said the birth of the four calves holds global significance as the species is exclusively found in Kenya; in its natural habitat.
The mountain Bongo’s population has declined to less than 250 mature mountain Bongo antelopes worldwide due to unrestricted hunting, poaching, loss of habitat, illegal logging in forests among other reasons.
The Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy located at the vast Mt Kenya Game Ranch property which also hosts the world famous Mt Kenya Safari Club and is owned by international businessman Humphrey Kariuki, holds the world’s largest herd of Mountain Bongo now totaling 84 following the recent births.
The Mountain Bongo, is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™ which is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.
On this roll, the mountain Bongo features on the critically endangered list with a descriptor that acknowledges that the numbers of this isolated antelope subspecies have undergone a severe decline. The descriptor adds that; “Very small remnant populations survive in the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mau Forest and Eburu Forest. Current estimates suggest a total of 75-140 individuals, well below the threshold of 250 mature individuals still exist in the wild. The taxon is still declining and none of the subpopulations listed above contains 50 mature individuals.
“At Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy we are delighted at the recent delivery of the four calves following a more than four-month lull,” Mr Bunge said, adding that, “The birth of the four calves will continue to inspire the Conservancy’s commitment to secure the survival of the rare antelope.”
The Mountain Bongo is one of the two sub-species of Bongo antelopes, the other one being the Lowland Bongo. Bongos are characterized by a striking red chestnut colour with about 9 to 16 white stripes ranging on either side of the torso and long, slightly spiralled horns. They are considered by many as the most beautiful antelope. Males weigh up to 450kgs whereas females weigh up 250kgs hence making them the largest/heaviest forest antelopes. Only found in Kenya in its natural habitat, the population in the wild has dipped in the past 50 years.
The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy’s Bongo Rehabilitation program was named amongst the three most important wildlife projects worldwide in 2006.