MOUNT KENYA | APRIL 2023
Back to Africa is involved with an exciting new project involving another critically endangered species.
The critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci) is a forest antelope, indigenous only to Kenya and was previously widely distributed across Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares, Mau, Eburu Forest and their environs. The wild mountain bongo population has significantly declined to less than 100 animals due to habitat degradation, forest fragmentation, poaching, and other human-related activities. On Mt. Kenya, once the stronghold for this species, the Mountain Bongo have all but disappeared into the wild.
Professor Paul Reillo of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation https://www.rarespecies.org/ in Florida USA has had the foresight to breed this iconic species for the purpose of rewilding and to this end there is a collaborative project with Rare Species , Kenya Wild Life Services ,Kenya Forest Services, Lewa Wild Life Conservancy , and the Meru County Government to start a breeding project within the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve.
This project aims to restore the wild Mt. Kenya population, engage local communities in eco-tourism and eco-friendly sustainable agriculture, and leverage protection for biodiversity across the Mt. Kenya ecosystem.
Ground has been broken on a the 250-acre parcel of forest land in the Marania and Muchiene area to start a breeding project to save this iconic species. The returned Bongos will be placed in spacious, specially built, fence-protected enclosures where they will be closely observed to ensure their acclimation. The new sanctuary enables Bongo groups to breed and thrive, providing future generations to be rewilded into Mt. Kenya’s forest ecosystem.
It is hoped animal will move from the USA to Kenya in the very near future.
The habituation of these animals that have lived for generations in the USA is technically challenging from a veterinary and husbandry perspective. The animals will be exposed to tick born diseases they have never been exposed to before. Specialized management is required and Back to Africa is privileged to have been invited to be part of the management team tasked with the survival of these precious animals.
Back to Africa director Hamish Currie was invited by the Smithsonian Institute to lecture at the Wild Life Health Workshop on Endangered Ungulates, held at Mpala Ranch in Kenya in October 2022. The focus included the Mountain Bongo and his lecture topics involved the prevention of tick born diseases in these antelope.