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East African Bongo
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Bovidae
RANGE: East Africa
HABITAT: Lowland and mountain forests
DIET: Leaves, grasses, vines, fruit, roots, twigs and bark
Status: Endangered

The East African bongo is one of the largest of forest antelopes, standing four feet at the shoulder and weighing 350-to-450 pounds. The short, chestnut coat has 11-to-12 narrow, vertical stripes on the sides of the body, which help camouflage the animal. A short, erect mane runs from shoulders to rump and along the black, tufted tail. The belly is black and a white chevron crosses the forehead, with other white patches on the head. The chest has a large white crescent and a dark dorsal stripe. A black chevron occurs above the white knees and a white patch is present above the hooves. Both sexes sport heavy horns that spiral one complete turn.

The bongo is a browsing animal and most feeding activity occurs from dusk to early morning. Depending more on hearing than on sight or sound, the animal is shy and swift and quickly disappears when startled. It runs gracefully at full speed through the thickest forest tangles, laying its heavy horns on its back, so the brush does not impede its flight. Its preferred habitat is so dense few people observed the East African bongo until the 1960s.

The male tends to be solitary, while females with young live in small groups of six-to-eight animals. The female gives birth to one offspring after about 285 days of gestation. The offspring has the same color pattern as the adult, but is lighter.

The Dallas Zoo has a long, successful bongo breeding history. Bongos born in North American zoos have recently been sent to Kenya for reintroduction into the Aberdare Mountains.