Forest Antelopes (Bongo)


Bongo (Tragelaphus euryceros) , the largest species of forest antelope in Africa, belongs to the subfamily of antelope, the Tragelaphidae which also includes the Grand Kudu, Sitatunga, and Bushbuck, all of which possess spiral horns and striped pelages. Bongo are found only at a few sites in Africa including southern Cameroon and south western and eastern Central African Republic, the Aberdares in Kenya, and southwestern Sudan.

The males and females are the same color, a vibrant auburn with vertically white striped flanks. Unlike other species of antelope, both sexes possess horns, the males’ being thicker. Their large black and white striped ears are in continual motion to ward off flies.

Bongo are most easily observed in forest clearings which are their centers of activity and are seldomly encountered in the closed forest. Forest clearings provide the bongo with mineral rich water as well as grasses and sedges, nutritious food found only in forest clearings. Bongo groups can range from a few individuals to more than twenty, consisting of adult females and their young of different ages. The average group size observed in the Dzanga National Park is thirteen individuals, larger than recorded from other areas of Africa. Males leave the maternal group once they reach adulthood. Adult males are observed with the groups in search of perspective mates. The peak calving period determined in the Dzanga National Park is during the months of June through August just before the major rainy season. A single calf is born after a gestation of nine months.

Bongo are highly prized trophies for foreign hunting clientele. In the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve several hunting permits are issued annually by the government for adult male Bongo.