Kenya: Eburu Forest holds newly discovered population of almost extinct Bongo

Kenya’s Eburu Forest was once considered inaccessible, thanks to its deep ravines and thick undergrowth. But a hike through its outer fringes these days feels positively crowded. The sound of axes echoes across the forest constantly, and the forest floor is scarred by dark mounds where wood once smoldered into charcoal.

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Yet here scientists and trackers have found what they believe is a new
population of the extremely rare mountain bongo. (See a picture of a
bongo.) Based on data from human trackers and a rare camera-trap
photograph captured in September 2008, researchers estimate the
newfound group includes about 20 members—a surprisingly large count
for a subspecies thought to number only 75 to 140 altogether in the
wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Such small numbers put the bongo, already so close to extinction, at
risk for hereditary diseases caused by inbreeding. Feared extinct as
recently as the mid-1990s, the mountain bongo is limited to the
forests of a few rugged Kenyan mountains: Eburu and Mount Kenya, as
well as peaks in the Aberdare and Mau ranges.

The bongo is an extremely shy creature, with a dozen or so thin white stripes running up and down its chestnut-colored flanks. Larger than any other forest-dwelling antelope, a male can grow to nearly 900 pounds (408 kilograms).

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