The bongo is also known as the lowland bongo or mountain bongo. It is a species of antelope. These animals are native to Africa. These are the heaviest and the biggest forest antelopes found only in Africa. The antelope species is easily recognizable among other wildlife of their kind for the vertical white stripes on their bodies. Both the male and female animals have a chestnut-orange coat and long horns. These bongo antelopes are the only horned species in the world where both sexes have long, wavy, horns. These colorful animals with big eyes, large ears, almost three feet high horns, and several vertical stripes on their body are the third largest among all species of antelopes.
All bongo animals are nocturnal, shy, and mysterious wildlife that are rarely seen in the open.
The number of bongos in the wild is decreasing rapidly and conservation efforts are underway.
Females: 331–518 lb (150–235 kg) Males: 485–893 lb (220–405 kg)
How long are they?
7.1 - 10.3 ft (2.16 - 3.13 m)
How tall are they?
3.6 - 4.3 ft (1.1 - 1.3 m)
What do they look like?
Reddish-brown, black, with white marking
What are their main threats?
Habitat loss, humans
What is their conservation status?
Western or lowland bongo: Near Threatened Eastern or mountain bongo: Critically Endangered
Where you'll find them
Dense African forest, bamboo thickets, lowlands, and mountain forests
Bongo Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a bongo?
Bongos or Tragelaphus eurycerus are large antelopes. They are the largest forest antelopes and the third largest among all antelope species.
What class of animal does a bongo belong to?
Bongos are mammals. Female gives birth to only one calf at a time
How many bongos are there in the world?
There are fewer than a hundred mountain bongos left in the highland forests of Kenya, Africa. These animals are protected in Kenya to save them from extinction. The population of the lowland bongo are also decreasing in Western African countries. These animals have steady populations in their range in Central Africa. It is estimated that 28,000 bongos are left on earth. Loss of habitat and hunting are the two biggest threats to these antelopes.
Where does a bongo live?
Bongos are wildlife and live in thick tropical forests with dense undergrowth in Cameroon, Ghana, South Sudan, Kenya, and the Republic of Congo in Central Africa.
What is a bongo's habitat?
The bongo is a native wildlife animal of Africa. These animals inhabit African tropical forests in Kenya, Ivory Coast, and several adjacent countries. Their populations are decreasing due to hunting for meat, habitat loss caused by deforestation for timber, urbanization. In some historical ranges, bongos have become extinct.
The lowland bongo’s ideal habitat is thick lowland forests and dense bamboo growths. Though this animal is now rare in West Africa, they are found in several places in Central Africa. The mountain or eastern bongo is an animal that lived in the highland forests of Kenya and Uganda. However, now they have been pushed to a smaller range and have disappeared from Uganda.
Who do bongos live with?
Like most antelopes, bongos are rarely seen in bigger groups. Males are called bulls and roam around solitarily. Females live with the young in small groups of six to ten. A bongo herd usually never crosses more than twenty members.
How long does a bongo live?
Bongos, scientifically known as Tragelaphus eurycerus, can live up to 19 years in the wild.
How do they reproduce?
The ideal mating time for bongos is between October and January. The gestation lasts for about nine months after which one calf is born. The birthing ground is usually in densely forested areas to protect the young animals from predators. After giving birth to the calf, the mother leaves it hidden in the vegetation for a week or more. It comes for short visits when the calf suckles.
The calves grow fast. Then they accompany their mothers out in the open to join nursery herds. In these herds, only females and young ones stay together. A calf’s horns grow quickly and appear in about four months. They suckle for six months and reach sexual maturity in close to two years.
What is their conservation status?
Among the two species of bongos, the western or lowland bongo is a Near Threatened species. The eastern bongo is listed as Critically Endangered due to its declining population. Bongos are considered extinct in Uganda, Togo, and Benin. In many African countries, conservation is being practiced. African wildlife organizations like Kenya Wildlife Service, Mt. Kenya Wildlife Conservancy are planning long-term conservation strategies.
Bongo Fun Facts
What do bongos look like?
Bongos are heavy-bodied forest antelopes with a short coat. The hide of these brilliantly colored antelopes is smooth, glossy, and reddish-brown. They have 10-15 yellowish-white stripes and spiral horns. Their body color is an adaptation mechanism to camouflage in their natural surroundings. Along with the vertical markings on their body, these animals also have typical white markings on their cheeks. There is a visible white chevron stretched from the eyes to the nose. Another white crescent marking is present on their chest.
Bongos also have black markings around their mouth and under their neck. The coats of the female bongo antelopes are brighter than the male. Both sexes have horns that are slightly spiraled and lyre-shaped. The horns of females are slightly thinner, shorter, light-colored compared to the male animals. Their spiraled horns either have a single or one-and-half twist. The male horns are longer with more twists.
Bongos have black and white markings on their legs. The calves are also born with markings on their body. The tail is not very long and has a tuft of hair at the tip. Bongos have large ears for sensitive hearing in the forest environment. They have a long prehensile or manipulative tongue that helps these animals to grasp onto leaves that are growing higher up in trees.
Bongo antelopes have a thin mane running along through their shoulders to the rump. Like most antelope species, bongo antelopes run as soon as they sense danger and disappear quickly into the dense forest. As they run, they keep their horns in a laid-back position against their body. This helps them to avoid getting tangled in the thick vegetation.
How cute are they?
Bongos are wild antelopes with striking features. They are not cuddly and cute like cats and dogs.
How do they communicate?
It is believed that the large ears of these animals aid in hearing the slightest noises. These animals recognize each other with their coloration in the dark forest habitat. These forest antelopes do not have any special secretion glands. They depend less on scents to find others of their kind in the forests.
How big is bongo antelope?
Compared to pudu, the smallest deer that grows to the height of 12-17 in (30-43 cm), a bongo is four times taller and grows to the height of 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m).
How fast can bongo run?
Bongos can run at the speed of 43 mph (69 kph).
How much does a bongo weigh?
Bongos are the biggest forest antelopes and are quite heavy. The males weigh from 485 – 893 lb (220–405 kg) and the females weigh from 331 –518 lb (150-234 kg).
What are the male and female names of the species?
A male bongo is called a buck and a female bongo is called a doe.
What would you call a baby bongo?
A baby bongo is called a calf.
What do they eat?
Bongos are herbivorous animals and only include plant matter in their diet like leaves, bark, grass, roots, fruits, grains. These night-browsing animals get their nutrition from what they eat. Moreover, their nocturnal grazing habit keeps them safe from many predators sharing the same habitat.
Like cows, the bongos have a four-chambered ruminating stomach. Their digestive system allows them to absorb maximum nutrition as the food passes slowly through the system. The prehensile tongue of the bongos helps them to reach for leaves and fruits on higher branches, as well as pull out roots from the ground.
Are they aggressive?
Bongo antelope species are not known to be aggressive. They coexist with other woodland antelopes like the greater kudu.
Would they make a good pet?
Bongos are wild animals and do not make good pets.
Did you know...
Although bongos are known to be nocturnal grazers, they may occasionally feed during the day. However, they never expose them on open grounds and remain confined to dense vegetation in their habitat.
The red fur pigment of the eastern bongo leaves a stain on the bushes and low plants when the animals brush against them. It helps them to locate each other and also for predators to locate them.
When it is hot western and eastern bongos reel in mud to keep their body cool. They then rub the mud off their horns onto tree barks to polish them.
Many superstitions surround this wildlife among natives of Africa. Some people believe touching and eating a bongo causes spasms in the body. That discourages some tribes to hunt this endangered wildlife.
Why is the bongo endangered?
Bongos are vanishing fast from the forests of Central, Western, and Eastern Africa mostly due to human activities like deforestation. Trophy hunters often kill bongos as prized trophies. However, the biggest impact comes from habitat loss. Vast stretches of land are cleared for livestock grazing, timber harvesting. Close contact with humans also leads to the spread of disease among the wildlife.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these fennec fox facts and bat-eared fox facts pages.
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