IUCN Red List status:
For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredlist.org
Eastern bongos are herbivores and eat leaves, shoots, grasses and shrubs
Native to Africa, small populations exist only in the montane patches of forest in the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mau Forest and Eburu Forest
Their thin, vertical stripes help them to camoflage by breaking up their body shape
They bend their heads back when moving through the forest so they don't get stuck in branches
They are the RAREST large mammal in Africa
The eastern bongo is recognised for its vibrant reddish-brown coat which features thin, white vertical stripes. Both males and females have long, spiralling distinctive horns which help them to find food by uprooting plants. They’re also used by males for sparring over females and can grow up to 1 METRE long!
Wild bongos tend to live in small groups of about eight females with their calves, led by one dominant male. They are the largest of all the African antelope species, but they are also extremely timid and easily spooked.
They are hunted by leopards and hyenas but their large sensitive ears help them to sense and escape ambushing predators.
We’re part of an endangered species breeding programme working to boost eastern bongo numbers in zoos around the world and secure a safety net population.
In partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, we’re also supporting vital research on the subspecies in Kenya – investigating the impact that habitat change has on the tiny bongo population that remains. The team are also working with researchers on a potential reintroduction strategy for the highly endangered animals.
In 2018, scientists from the zoo discovered another subspecies of bongo, the lowland bongo, in Uganda for the first time. Our motion-sensor camera traps detected the presence of the animals in the lowland rainforests of the Semuliki National Park.