COMMON NAME: Bongo Antelope
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tragelaphus euryceros
LOCATION:  Kenya and Western Africa
HABITAT: Lowland and mountain forests
SIZE: 44-54 inches, 470-900 pounds 
GESTATION PERIOD: 9 months, giving birth to one calf
LIFESPAN: Up to 19 years
DIET: Leaves, flowers, garden produce, twigs
LOCATION IN THE ZOO:  Near the Cheetah Exhibit



Rich, chestnut color coat. Ten to fifteen white-yellow vertical torso stripes.  Both sexes have lyre-shaped horns.


The bongo is the only Tragelaphid in which both the male and female have horns.  Among the various species of antelope in the African Equatorial forrest, Bongos are the largest. They are the only forest antelope to form herds.  Bongos are extremely shy, making accurate population estimation difficult.

Bongos are an extremely elusive species.  The bulk of information gathered on the Bongo Antelope typically comes from studies requiring captivity . It is known, however, that the Bongo must inhabit close to dense vegetation.  Because of this dependency on thick vegetation, destruction of the Bongo habitat is an increasing threat. 

The Bongo has a highly advanced social organization.  Males tend to be partially solitary, however, females and juveniles typically coexist.  Dominance behavior can be observed in multi-male interactions.  They possess a wide range of vocalizations.  Bongos snort, grunt, moo, and bellow out a "bleat-like" alarm call.

Bongos have a prehensile tongue, making for a helpful feeding apparatus.  They also are known to feed on wood that has been burned after lightning storms.  This unique behavior may indicate that the Bongo uses the burned wood as a source of salt or minerals. 

After birth, calves are temporarily abandoned in the undergrowth by the mother.  This may be a protective tactic for the vulnerable calf to avoid predators.   Not to worry, the mother returnes periodically to nurse. 

Bongos have been observed to hold their horns on the back of the neck when fleeing.  This suggests that they are probably preventing getting entangled in the surrounding vegetation. As a result, bare patches of fur are visible on the backs of older Bongos. 

Immediate conservation efforts are necessary to ensure the survival of this majestic species.  The government of Congo is collaborating with a team of researchers to study the Bongo. They are taking  measures to increase the Bongo population.  Donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.   Please send inquiries to: 
Paul Elkan, Nouable-Ndoki Project
Brazzaville Congo
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-2090

Source Materials and Related Links:

Walker's Mammals of the World, Fifth Edition, Volume II.  Pages 1414-1415.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia,  Mammals IV, Volume 13. Page 302, 1972.

Science News, Volume 125, G. Morse. June 9, 1994. Page 358. 

The Mombongo Conservation and Research Project,


Page Author: Karla Perez
Email Address:

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