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Tragelaphus eurycerus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus eurycerus
Species Authority: (Ogilbyi, 1837)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Bongo
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are currently recognized: Mountain or Eastern Bongo (T. e. isaaci) and the Lowland or Western Bongo (T. e. eurycerus).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Justification:
Listed as Near Threatened as the species faces an ongoing population decline as habitat loss and hunting pressures increase with the expansion of human settlement and commercial forestry. The level of decline is estimated to have reached more than 20% over three generations (21 years), hence approaching the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion A2cd.
History:
1996 Lower Risk/near threatened (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Western or Lowland Bongo ranges from Sierra Leone to Benin, being absent east of the Dahomey Gap, and then continues east of the Adamawa Highlands in Cameroon to southern Sudan and DR Congo. West Africa populations are declining throughout much of their range, although most of the central Africa populations still maintain their historical distribution (East 1999; Elkan and Smith in press).

Historically, the Mountain Bongo occurred in and around forested zones of Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares, Mau forest, Cherengani hills and Chepalungu hills in Kenya and Mount Elgon in Kenya and Uganda (Elkan and Smith in press). The Mountain Bongo was exterminated from the Uganda side of Mount Elgon around 1913-1914 (Kingdon 1982). It is now confined to four completely isolated populations in patches of forest on Mt. Kenya, the Mau and Eburu forests, and the Aberdares in Kenya (Elkan and Smith in press).
Countries:
Native:
Benin; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Liberia; Niger; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Togo
Regionally extinct:
Uganda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: East (1999) estimated the total population of Lowland Bongo at 28,000, with populations in the order of a few thousands in the west (where populations are fragmented), and tens of thousands in the central Africa forest zone. It tends to be naturally rare or absent over large parts of the equatorial forest zone.

The current population estimate (2007) for the Mountain Bongo is ca. 75-140 individuals: Aberdare Mts (50-100); Mt Kenya (6-12); Mau Forest (6-12), Eburu Forest (6-12) (M. Prettejohn and L. Estes in litt to ASG 2007).

Dense forest habitat, patchy distributions, wide-ranging patterns, retiring behaviour and crepuscular/nocturnal activity patterns hinder any reliable estimation of Bongo densities (Elkan and Smith in press). Hillman (1986) estimated 1.2/km² in southern Sudan based on group size observations and mineral lick distribution.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Bongo is associated with disturbed forest areas and the forest-savanna ecotone in the West and Central African lowlands and the Kenya highlands. There is a record from 4,300 m on Mount Kenya (Young and Evans 1993). It thrives on transition vegetation at the forest edge and in new growth areas that occur after disturbance (i.e. post-timber exploitation, elephant disturbance, tree-falls, landslides, burned fields) (Elkan and Smith in press). Forest clearings and mineral licks are important for geophagy and socialization (Elkan and Smith in press). Bongo are primarily browsers, but exhibit some seasonal grazing on grasses (Elkan and Smith in press).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Lowland Bongo faces an ongoing population decline as habitat destruction and hunting for meat (mainly through snares) increase with the relentless expansion of commercial forestry exploitation and human settlement (East 1999; Elkan and Smith in press).

Threats to Mountain Bongo include hunting with dogs and loss of habitat in the Mau and Eburu forests to illegal logging. The decline of Mountain Bongo populations in the Aberdares in recent years has been attributed to increased hunting by local people and habitat loss, and even to the increased numbers of Lion in the area (Elkan and Smith in press). Although these factors have no doubt contributed to the decline of Mountain Bongo, the impact of disease has probably been underestimated: the grazing of cattle in the forest reserves of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares as high as the Hagenia forest on the Aberdares plateau may have greater implications for Bongo conservation than hunting pressure in terms of disease transmission (L. Estes, in Elkan and Smith in press). Percival (1928) reported that rinderpest drastically reduced the populations of the Mountain Bongo in the 1890s, and populations are thought to have suffered greatly in later epidemics in the early 1900s.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: As the largest and most spectacular forest antelope, the Lowland Bongo is both an important flagship species for protected areas such as national parks, and a major trophy species which has been taken in increasing numbers in Central Africa by international sport hunters during the 1990s. Both of these factors are strong incentives to provide effective protection and management of Lowland Bongo populations. Trophy hunting has the potential to provide economic justification for the preservation of larger areas of Bongo habitat than national parks, especially in remote regions of Central Africa where possibilities for commercially successful tourism are very limited (East 1999).

East (1999) estimated that perhaps 60% of Bongo numbers were confined to protected areas. In Central Africa, these include Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and Bangassou areas of the Central African Republic, Lobeke National Park (Cameroon), and in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and Odzala National Park (Republic of Congo); in West Africa, strongholds include Taï (Côte d’Ivoire), Sapo (Liberia), and Kakum National Parks (Ghana) (East 1999; Elkan and Smith in press). However, because the highest known abundances of Bongo in Central Africa occur in logging concessions not protected areas, an approach is needed that incorporates both protected areas and logging concessions (see Elkan 2003; Elkan and Smith in press).

The Mountain Bongo’s survival in the wild is dependent on more effective protection of the surviving remnant populations in Kenya (East 1999). Two conservation initiatives are currently in progress on Mountain Bongo. A programme to reintroduce Bongo to Mt Kenya began in 2004, when 18 animals where flown from North American zoos to a captive-breeding facility at Mount Kenya Game Ranch, on the north-western slope of the mountain. A second phase began in 2005, with the commencement of a research programme into the Mountain Bongo’s ecology. This project will attempt to determine the configuration of Bongo habitat on both the Aberdares and Mount Kenya, using recently collected field and remotely sensed data (L. Estes pers. comm.). Meanwhile, the Bongo Surveillance Programme, initiated in 2004, has been investigating the status of the remaining wild Bongo populations in Kenya (L. Estes pers. comm.).

Bibliography [top]

East, R. 1999. African Antelope Database 1999. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Elkan, P. W. 2003. Ecology and conservation of bongo antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus) in lowland forest, northern Republic of Congo. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota.

Elkan, P. W. and Smith, J. L. D. In press. Tragelaphus eurycerus. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Hillman, J. C. 1986. Aspects of the biology of the bongo antelope Tragelaphus euryceros (Ogilby 1837) in the south west Sudan. Biological Conservation 38: 255-272.

Kingdon, J. 1982. East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. Academic Press, London, UK.

Percival, A. B. 1928. A game ranger on Safari. J. Nisbet and Co, London, UK.

Young, T. P. and Evans, M. R. 1993. Alpine vertebrates of Mount Kenya, with particular notes on the rock hyrax. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society and National Museum 82(202): 55-79.


Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Tragelaphus eurycerus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 July 2014.
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