The Western Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus eurycerus), also known as the
Lowland Bongo, is a herbivorous antelope among the largest of the African forest antelope species. Bongos are found in dense tropical jungles with dense undergrowth up to an altitude of 12,800 feet in Central Africa. There are isolated populations in Kenya and other West African countries. Their numbers are declining due to habitat loss for agriculture and uncontrolled timber cutting. They are also poached for their meat.
Bongos are characterized by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiraled horns. Indeed, bongos are the only antelope in its genus in which both sexes have horns. The horns of bongos are in the form of a lyre. A white chevron appears between the eyes and two large white spots grace each cheek. There is another white chevron where the neck meets the chest. The large ears are to sharpen hearing, and the distinctive coloration may help bongos identify one another in their dark forest habitats.
Adult height is about 44 to 51 inches and length is 68 to 99 inches. Females weigh 460 to 520 pounds, while males weigh 530 to 895 pounds. Gestation period is about 285 days with one young per birthing cycle. Young are weaned at 6 months and reach sexual maturity at 24 to 27 months. Bongos favor disturbed forest mosaics that provide fresh, low-level green vegetation. Such habitats may be promoted by heavy browsing by elephants, fires, flooding, tree-felling (natural or by logging) and fallowing.
Image Caption: A western bongo at the Nashville Zoo. Credit: Joanne Merriam/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)