Bongos are the largest and most spectacular of the African forest antelopes. The main population is in west Africa, however, a much smaller and critically endangered subspecies is found in the mountain forests of Kenya. Bongos are well equipped for a life in the forest - impressive, long, spiralling horns can be used to break branches and a long flexible tongue can grasp leaves with ease. Despite their bold appearance, bongos are shy and reclusive animals that stay out of sight in the cover of the forest during the day.
Scientific name: Tragelaphus eurycerus
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Bongo can be found in a number of locations including: Africa. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Bongo distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Decreasing
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The western or lowland bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus eurycerus, is a herbivorous, mostly nocturnal forest ungulate and among the largest of the African forest antelope species.
Bongos are characterised by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiralled horns. Indeed, bongos are the only Tragelaphid in which both sexes have horns. Bongos have a complex social interaction and are found in African dense forest mosaics.
The lowland bongo faces an ongoing population decline and the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group considers the western or lowland bongo, T. eurycerus eurycerus, to be Near Threatened on the conservation status scale.
The eastern or mountain bongo, T. eurycerus isaaci, of Kenya has a coat even more vibrant than that of T. eurycerus eurycerus. The mountain bongo is only found in the wild in one remote region of central Kenya. The mountain bongo is classified by the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group as Critically Endangered with more specimens in captivity than in the wild.
In 2000, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) upgraded the bongo to a Species Survival Plan (SSP) Participant and in 2006 named the Bongo Restoration to Mount Kenya Project to its list of the Top Ten Wildlife Conservation Success Stories of the year. However, in 2013 it seems these successes have been negated with reports that there are possibly only 100 Eastern Mountain Bongs left in the wild due to logging & poaching.
Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.