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KENYA FOREST SERVICE PROVIDES SPACE FOR CONSERVATION OF CRITICALLY ENDANGERED BONGO ANTELOPES

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has granted the Nanyuki-based Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC) a license to expand their current Mountain Bongo Breeding Sanctuary into a section of the adjacent Mt Kenya Forest Reserve. 

 

This was announced by the Chief Conservator of Forests Mr Julius Kamau yesterday during the launch The National Recovery and Action Plan for the Mountain Bongoin Kenya(2019-2023) that was held at MKWC’s Kimani Boma in Nanyuki. The event was presided over by Hon Najib Balala EGH, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife and attended by Dr Susan Koech the Principal Secretary for the State Department of Wildlife, Hon. Ndiritu Muriithi the Governor for Laikipia County and Brig (Rtd) J. M. Waweru the Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

 

The Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerusisaaci) is a Critically Endangered chestnut-red forest-dwelling antelope with 12-14 white stripes traversing its shoulders, flanks and hindquarters. Human pressure on its habitat, poaching and other factors have seen the antelope’s population drastically decline from 500 individuals in the 1970s to 96 currently confined in sections of Mount Kenya, Aberdare, Eburu and Mau forests. 

 

The 776-acre area that KFS has permitted MKWC to use spans from Nanyuki to Ontulili Forest Stations in Nyeri and Meru Counties respectively. KFS granted the license following expert recommendations that the 77 captive bongos currently held by MKWC could be used to grow Kenya’s wild population through careful re-introduction into adjacent forest areas where the antelope once thrived. The license is also in line with the global objectives of sustainable forest management whereby forests should providehabitat for a diversity of wildlife species as part of their ecosystem services.

 

The project will see MKWC collaborating with the National Bongo Task Force (NBTF) and other experts to constructpredator-proof fences and paddocks within the licensed area into which selected bongos will be translocated. These animals will then be allowed to breed with minimal human interaction and their offspring eventually released into the wild as they will not be habituated to people. 

 

At the meeting, the Chief Conservator of Forests undertook to mainstream the Bongo Recovery and Action Plan in KFS strategies and plans. He also directed KFS officers in the affected areas to recognize the antelope as a flagship species. He further committed to continue collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure that KFS continues to play its role in achieving the Bongo Recovery and Action Plan’s target of reaching 750 wild bongos in the next 50 years. 

 

The Chief Conservator of Forests later held a meeting with KFS staff and representatives of Nanyuki Community Forest Association at Nanyuki Forest Station where he underscored the need for all to support the bongo re-introduction project in addition to increasing tree planting actions for attainment of 10% forest cover by 2022.

 

CS Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala hands over the National Recovery and Action Plan For the Mountain Bongo to Laikipia County Governor Hon. Ndiritu Muriithi.He is flanked by PS State Department of Wildlife Dr. Susan Koech, KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau(centre) and KWS Director General Brig (Rtd) J. M. Waweru (Left).

 

The Endangered Mountain Bongo grazing in a Protected Forest Area.

 

 

 

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