Tragelaphus eurycerus ssp. eurycerus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus eurycerus ssp. eurycerus (Ogilbyi, 1837)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Lowland Bongo, Western Bongo
Taxonomic Notes: Tragelaphus eurycerus eurycerus is generally regarded as a separate subspecies, but this is not yet confirmed by genetic analysis. The two populations of Lowland Bongo, in Western and Central Africa respectively, have been separated for an unknown lengthy of time and may also show genetic differences.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-09-06
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Cooke, R.
This subspecies 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 24 years (three generations), hence meeting the threshold for Near Threatened. This decrease may be an underestimate and the species may be approaching the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion A2cd; however there is at present inadequate information to complete a more thorough evaluation, and more intensive monitoring is required.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Western or Lowland Bongo has a disjunct distribution from Sierra Leone to Togo (where they now probably only occur in Fazao National Park) and Benin (where a few may still exist in the Mt. Kouffe area); and then from SW Cameroon through Central African Republic to SW South Sudan, NE Gabon, N Republic of Congo and the northern half of DR Congo (East 1999, Elkan and Smith 2013). The gap in distribution is assumed to reflect patterns of expansion and contraction of forest habitats resulting from climatic fluctuations.

For the distribution map, see the parent species assessment: Tragelaphus eurycerus.
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Liberia; Niger; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Togo
Additional data:
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 thousand in West Africa (where populations are fragmented), and tens of thousands in the Central African forest zone. It tends to be naturally rare or absent over large parts of the equatorial forest zone. 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 2013). Hillman (1986) estimated 1.2/km² in South Sudan based on observations of group size and distribution of mineral licks. There are no reliable estimates of current population size.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Lowland Bongo is associated with rainforest, disturbed forest areas and the forest-savanna ecotone in the West and Central African lowlands, Bongo thrive on transition vegetation at the forest edge and in new growth areas that occur after disturbance (post-timber exploitation, elephant disturbance, tree-falls, landslides, burned fields; Elkan and Smith 2013). Forest clearings and mineral licks are important for geophagy and socialization (Elkan and Smith 2013, and references therein). Bongo are primarily browsers, but exhibit some seasonal grazing on grasses (Elkan and Smith 2013).
Generation Length (years):8.0
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Lowland Bongo are subject to snare hunting associated with expanding commercial forestry exploitation and high demand for Bongo trophies (Elkan and Smith 2013). In fact, Bongos are the primary target of tourist safari hunting in the forests of central Africa and increasing demand over the past decade, the use of dogs and inadequate regulation has resulted in over-hunting in several areas (Elkan 1995, 2003). In contrast, trophy hunting also 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). Traditionally, due to taboos against eating of the meat, Bongo are not considered a preferred game species by local people, at least in some sites (Hillman 1986; Elkan 1995, 2003), although there is still heavy loss due to indiscriminate snaring. Furthermore, the erosion of traditional beliefs and expanding commercial hunting are creating new pressures and its meat is sometimes smoked and sold as 'buffalo' (Elkan and Smith 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Lowland Bongo faces an ongoing population decline as habitat destruction and hunting for meat (mainly through snares) and Bongo trophies increase with the relentless expansion of commercial forestry exploitation and human settlement (East 1999, Elkan and Smith 2013). Despite its large size Bongo is a shy and reclusive species, attributes that may offer some degree of protection from hunting.

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.
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 2013). 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 (Elkan 2003, Elkan and Smith 2013).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Elkan, P. W. 1995. Preliminary surveys of bongo antelope and assessment of safari hunting in south-eastern Cameroon. Unpublished report to Wildlife Conservation Society and USAID.

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. 2013. Tragelaphus eurycerus. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

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.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Tragelaphus eurycerus ssp. eurycerus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22058A50197275. . Downloaded on 19 June 2018.
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