Mountain bongo conservation efforts gets $10,000 boost

This comes barely days after Meru governor said she was importing 25 of the animals from the US.

In Summary

•Conservancy says that over the past 10 years, rampant logging has undermined tree cover and habitat for the animals.

•The money will be channelled towards the reforestation of Mount Kenya forest.

Mountain bongos
Image: FILE

Conservation efforts for endangered mountain bongos in the country has got a huge boost after a Czech Republic-based zoo committed to give $10,000 to boost it.

Prague Zoo has partnered with Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy  to inject the money into the conservancy's efforts of expanding and rehabilitating the habitat of the species.

The Mount Kenya Wildlife conservancy announced the partnership on Tuesday.

This latest effort at conserving the endangered species comes barely days after Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza announced she was importing 25 mountain bongos from the US to a conservation sanctuary her administration was building in Buuri constituency.

The governor had said the action was being done by Meru bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust, which had secured the license from the Kenya Wildlife Service.

On the Prague Zoo donation, the MKWC said the money will facilitate the reforestation of the Mount Kenya Forest ecosystem, which is vital for the survival of this critically endangered species, including funding for tree planting and seedling procurement. 

The entity says that over the past 10 years, rampant logging and climate change have decimated more than 20 per cent of Mount Kenya Forest’s tree cover. 

Noting that fewer than 100 of mountain Bongos are left in the wild, the entity says the investment is timely and will go a long way in biodiversity conservation. 

"By restoring one of the Bongos’ last remaining natural refuge, the partnership aims to aid the longer-term rewilding and future of this iconic Kenyan species," the conservancy said.

Dr Robert Aruho, MKWC’s head of the conservancy praised the partnership, saying that the money will solve the single biggest threat to the animals' existence, as well as deforestation.

"The generous donation will help tackle one of the single biggest threats to the Bongo’s existence, and we know that we cannot achieve the goal of rewilding if the Mountain Bongo has no ecosystem to thrive in.”  

On his part, Miroslav Bobek, the director of Prague Zoo, said the motivation of their donation was to preserve biodiversity.

“Prague Zoo implements and supports a number of projects aiming to protect the biodiversity, and we are delighted to start the partnership with Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy to protect forests that are key habitat for the Mountain Bongo as well as a number of other species," he said. 

The tree planting campaign will also meet the objective of enhancing the country's tree cover, which has become a strategic aim of the President William Ruto administration. 

Ruto has called on Kenyans to help plant 15 billion trees and achieve 30 per cent tree cover by 2032 to stop the cycle of drought.  

The Prague Zoo-MKWC partnership follows the landmark opening of the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary at the foothills of Mount Kenya in March 2022.

MKWC has already successfully released 10 mountain bongos into the Sanctuary, with plans to have 750 fully rewilded Bongos by 2050.  

To ensure the long-term success of the habitat restoration project, MKWC says it will continue hosting numerous tree-planting events and community engagement initiatives to promote the protection of the Bongo’s ecosystem.

This includes inviting more than 20,000 students on school trips a year to inspire students to take up the cause of conservation.

"Guests at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, the hotel that sits within the conservancy can also make their impact by planting trees within the sanctuary and mountain reserve," it said in a statement.

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