(Tragelaphus eurycerus)




Facts about this animal

The Bongo is the largest and heaviest forest antelope. It is brightly coloured with very distinct white markings on the head and 10 to 16 conspicuous white stripes running down from the dorsal crest on each side of the body. Horns are present in both sexes. They are massive, long and twisted and about 80 cm in length. The head-body length is 180-250 cm, with a shoulder height of 110-125 cm and the weight is 150-250 kgs. Females are smaller and lighter than males. The Bongo has a prehensile tongue which aids in feeding and reaching higher vegetation.

Did you know?
that native people believe if they eat or touch bongo they will have spasms similar to epileptic seizures? Because of this superstition, bongos have been relatively unharmed in their native ranges.


Name (Scientific) Tragelaphus eurycerus
Name (English) Bongo
Name (French) Bongo
Name (German) Bongo
Name (Spanish) Bongo
Local names Ndongoro (kiKuyu), Kulungu wa Afrika kati (kiSwahili)
CITES Status Appendix III (Danemark)
CMS Status Not listed



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Becky Anne



Range Tropical Africa, discontinuous: Guinea to Togo, Zaire River basin, East Africa
Habitat Dense rainforest regions
Wild population Population estimated for 2007: for the Mountain Bongo (Critically Endangered) is ca. 75-140 individuals: Aberdare Mts (50-100); Mt Kenya (6-12); Mau Forest (6-12), Eburu Forest (6-12) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci: 591 (207.374.10) registered by the International Studbook (31 Dec. 2008), held in 117 locations. Tragelaphus eurycerus: 477 reported to ISIS (April 2009)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

This is an impressive and very colourful antelope, which is an excellent ambassador species for the threatened fauna of its West, Central and East African range.

Only the eastern subspecies is kept by zoos, for which an international studbook has been established under the umbrella of WAZA. The zoos in Australasia, Europe and North America implement coordinated breeding programmes with a view of maintaining a viable ex situ population.

A reintroduction programme has been initiated in Kenya. In 2004, a group of 18 bongos, captive-bred in zoos in the US as part of a programme to return them to the wild, was released into the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. Since then, the herd has given birth to 11 young (2007).


Bongos were captured in the forests of Mount Kenya in the late 1960s and early '70s and, when it became clear that the antelope was facing extinction due to poachin and disease, they were taken to the US for breeding purposes. Only a few dozen wild individuals remain in the entire central Kenyan Highlands, and they disappeared completely from the slopes of Mount Kenya in 1994.