Mountain Bongo Antelope Recovery Program, Kenya
This program aims to expand and manage in situ and ext situ Mountain Bongo populations (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci) for repatriation, translocation, and eventual reintroduction into native bongo habitat. Ultimately these efforts compliment and help restore wild bongo populations throughout the Aberdares, Mau, Eburu and Mt. Kenya.
On January 29, 2004, at 8:00 p.m., an Air Transport International DC-8 freighter touched down in Nairobi carrying 18 captive-bred mountain bongo antelope and two tons of antelope feed, consummating RSCF's 10-year campaign to repatriate bongo from the U.S. to Kenya.
2021 - Fast-forward 16 years and the program enters its second phase with the creation of the The Meru Bongo & Rhino Conservation Trust. Formally established in April 2021, the project is a broad collaboration between the Meru County Government, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Mt. Kenya Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, Micanopy Zoological Preserve, and the Tropical Conservation Institute at Florida International University.
The founder bongo group - currently being bred in semi-wild conditions at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Florida- will be translocated to Marania and Muchiene forests in Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve.
The Mountain Bongo Repatriation Project represents a rare milestone in wildlife conservation, aiming to restore a critically endangered flagship species to self-sustaining levels in the wild from captive U.S. stock. The repatriated bongos are founders for a long-term breeding effort, with animals sent from the U.S. to Africa held in breeding groups gradually acclimated to the wild over future generations. Ultimately, the program seeks to restore a sustainable wild population within the Mt. Kenya World Heritage Site via close coordination with our program partners including Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, The Bongo Surveillance Project, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust, and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
2022 update - A major endeavor is underway to restore two iconic mammals to the Mt. Kenya ecosystem. The newly formed Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust leads a broad collaboration with Meru County Government, Ntimaka and Kamulu Community Forest Associations, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (Florida, USA) and Florida International University’s Tropical Conservation Institute to coordinate the recovery of Mountain Bongo Antelope and Black Rhinoceros. Both are critically endangered flagship species that have disappeared from Mt. Kenya’s forests but now have renewed hope in the wild thanks to aggressive protection, proven conservation science and conservation breeding, and effective population management.
As part of Kenya’s comprehensive, national vision for bongo and rhino, the Trust will oversee the development and management of a proposed new sanctuary on Mt. Kenya, infusing breeding bongo and rhino populations across ~139 km2 of the species’ historical mountain range in which Kenya Forest Service has been approached to issue a long term special user license. The proposed sanctuary will receive bongo antelope from the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Florida, which has successfully propagated bongo for over 30 years and long supported bongo conservation in Kenya. This process will be guided and anchored on the elaborate procedures directed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.