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Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015

The Bongo (Tragelaphus euryerus) antelope (Wikipedia) is a herbivorous, mostly nocturnal forest ungulate; it is among the largest of African forest antelope species. Historically, bongo concentrated in three parts of Africa – East, Central, and West. Now they are found only in a small isolated range of Central and Eastern Africa and are so difficult to find that it is extremely rare to see one in the wild. This has happened primarily due to habitat loss from agriculture, un-regulated timber cutting and local populations killing for food – not significantly from trophy hunting! Conversely – according to Wilkie, D.S.; Carpenter, J. (1999) “Trophy hunting has the potential to provide economic justification for the preservation of larger areas of bongo habitat than national parks, especially in remote areas of Central Africa, where possibilities for commercially successful tourism are very limited.” There are two basic species – The western or lowland bongo (Tragelaphus euryerus) and the eastern or mountain bongo (Tragelaphus isaaci). The lowland bongo is considered “Near Threatened” by the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group and the mountain bongo is classified “Critically Endangered” with more specimens reported in captivity than in the wild. The total number of bongo (both species) in the world is estimated as low as perhaps 10,000 with approximately 60% held in protected areas or preserves. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums re-located a fairly significant amount of bongo back to central Africa in 2006, checked the progress in 2013 and sadly reported that there may only be 100 mountain bongos left in the wild. Based on research from Larry Johnson – one of the world’s most accomplished authorities on exotic wildlife conservation, the world’s total population of mountain bongo is somewhere around 2,000 - predominantly held on private preserves and protected environments. A very large concentration is surprisingly in Texas where exotic species from all over the world were imported mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. Texas seems to be excellent habitat for not only bongo but for most other exotic species. BISBEE’S CONSERVATION JOURNAL Q2 • 2015 07


Bisbees Conservation Journal Q2 2015
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