Home » Kenya Successfully Repatriates Iconic Mountain Bongo to Sanctuary

Kenya Successfully Repatriates Iconic Mountain Bongo to Sanctuary

In a significant stride towards conservation, Kenya has achieved a remarkable feat by repatriating 10 iconic Mountain Bongos from America to a sanctuary nestled within the Mount Kenya ecosystem.

The arrival of these 10 individuals bolsters the population of Mountain Bongos to 24 at the Mawingu Bongo Sanctuary. This achievement follows the repatriation of 10 bongos from various zoos in North America in 2014, with the birth of four calves since then.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua underscored the government’s unwavering dedication to the National Recovery and Action Plan for the Mountain Bongo, designed to rescue the species from the brink of extinction through strategic conservation measures.

“Kenya’s ambitious plan aims to establish a national population of 750 Mountain Bongos within the next 50 years,” Mutua announced.

During the commemorative event, Dr. Erustus Kanga, Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), commended the collaborative efforts between KWS and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC). He highlighted positive trends in Kenya’s wildlife population, as outlined in the 2021 National Wildlife Census Report.

However, Dr. Kanga expressed concern over the dwindling numbers of Mountain Bongos, with fewer than 100 remaining in the wild within Mount Kenya and Aberdare National Park.

“KWS has been steadfast in supporting MKWC since 2004, focusing on the recovery and restoration of the Mountain Bongo through veterinary resources and in-situ breeding and rewilding programs,” Dr. Kanga emphasized.

Her Excellency, Mrs. Rachel Ruto, echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the reintroduction as a beacon of hope for wildlife conservation in Kenya. She stressed the importance of protecting endangered species and preserving their ecosystems for future generations.

The importation, famously known as the Bongo Repatriation Project, was initiated due to the alarming decline of this antelope species in the wild, with the population plummeting to less than 100 individuals. Fragmented habitats in Mount Kenya and Aberdares posed a severe obstacle to natural recovery efforts.

The establishment of the Mawingo Mountain Bongo Sanctuary in 2022 marked a historic milestone in the fight for the survival of this subspecies. Spanning 776 acres, the sanctuary was established in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC), a non-profit organization.

Once abundant, Mountain Bongos have faced a steep population decline since the 1950s, attributed to factors such as poaching, live trade, predation, and disease, including the rinderpest outbreak in the 1980s.

The successful repatriation and establishment of the sanctuary stand as testaments to Kenya’s commitment to biodiversity conservation and serve as beacons of hope for the future of these magnificent creatures in the wild.

Edited by Neville Ng’ambwa

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