In March 2022, the first 5 mountain bongos to have ever been rewilded were successfully released into the sanctuary. The new release brings the total number of rewilded Bongos in 2022 to 10.
The Bongos were released between Friday 25th November and Thursday 1st December, in an intricate procedure that involved selection, capture, translocation, and post-release monitoring to ensure their safe welfare in this sanctuary.
Rewilding is a process of providing suitable conditions that allow the wildlife originally under human care or degrades to regain their wild instincts (for animals) or for an area to regain its natural vegetation cover through succession. Therefore, translocation is a step toward rewilding but does not necessarily mean that animals translocated have been rewilded till they completely regain their wild instincts for free survival.
Since the release of five Bongos in March 2022, the sanctuary has already registered one wild bongo birth providing a further incentive that the first animals have fully settled in their new home in the wild since the program began –
The translocation was overseen by Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC), in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which is the government agency supporting the Mountain Bongo Breeding and Rewilding program. In line with the Government of Kenya’s Mountain Bongo National Recovery and Action Plan (2019-2023), the program aims to have 40-50 fully rewilded mountain bongos by 2025 and 750 by 2050.
The rewilding follows a record-breaking loss of wildlife populations in the region due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease. According to last year’s National Wildlife Census in Kenya, less than 100 Mountain Bongos are left living naturally in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) predicts that this number will likely continue to decline unless deliberate action is taken to address these threats.
The Mountain Bongo is associated with the montane forests in the Kenya highlands and is recorded to have become extinct in Kenya in 1995; As of January 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Mountain Bongo as critically endangered.
Through the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy’s dedicated conservation work spanning over two decades, Kenya now provides global leadership in efforts to prevent the extinction of this specialantelope. This entails, among other activities, ecosystem restoration work in close collaboration with the Mount Kenya local communities.
Dr. Robert Aruho, Head of Conservancy at MKWC, said: “The Mountain Bongo breeding program started in 2004. Our intention is to breed the Bongos and prime the animals for survival in the wild.
We can’t do without our environment. We hear about climate change, how does this come about? It happens when we become poor stewards of our environment. This includes the management of wildlife and its habitats. To sustain our efforts, we must make interventions in the communities that address these challenges.”
Dr Isaac Lekolool, Head of Veterinary Services at KWS, said: “At Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, we have the Bongo program. Currently, we are doing the Bongo rehabilitation having set up the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary which was officially launched in the year 2022. For this program, we are trying to see how to rewild the semi-captive Mountain Bongo which currently exists within MKWC. “