Bongo birth provides boost for critically endangered species

Bongo birth provides boost for critically endangered species

#Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 20th February 2015 by Media Relations

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an Eastern Bongo calf, one of rarest antelope species in the world.

Born in the early hours on 8 February, the calf has had time to bond with its mother off display, before coming out onto exhibit for the first time this week.

Keepers are yet to determine the sex of the calf, which is the third born to mother, Djembe, and father, Ekundu.

“Djembe is a fantastic, protective mother and cleaned the calf as soon as it was born. The calf has already learnt to follow its mother around and was very curious and energetic when exploring its exhibit for the first time,” said Ungulate Keeper, Tracy Roberts.

The new arrival has also sparked much curiosity from its father and its older brother, Tambo, the last Eastern Bongo calf born at Taronga in November 2013.

Tracy said the new calf was an important addition to the Australasian breeding program helping to save the critically endangered species from extinction.

“Every birth of a healthy calf is important, with fewer than 100 of these gentle animals left in the wild. Sadly Eastern Bongo numbers have collapsed due to poaching, disease and destruction of their native habitat in Kenya’s highlands,” she said.

One of the last large mammal species to be discovered by scientists and zoologists in the mid-1800s, Bongos have a magnificent red-brown hide, with white stripes on the shoulders and back to help them to remain camouflaged in dense jungle.

Eastern Bongos are part of a conservation breeding program, managed across the Australasian region to function as an insurance population should the species go extinct in the wild.

Taronga is also helping to protect Bongos in the wild through its support of the Bongo Surveillance Project in the highlands of central Kenya. The project monitors herds and individual Bongo movements using visual signs, camera traps and GPS equipment and also combats poaching activities by removing illegal traps and snares.