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Meet an astute antelope species

The bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), an antelope species, is characterized by prominent colours and long spiralling horns (75 cm - 99 cm), which in females tend to be more parallel than in males. Bongos are unusual in the genus Tragelaphus in that both sexes have horns.


The elusive bongo is one of many species found within the dense Congo Basin rainforest. © WWF / Fritz Vollmar

An elegant antelope

The ears are large and broad and there is a white chevron between the eyes. White markings cover parts of the cheeks and legs, and 10 to 15 whitish stripes run along the torso and rump. Females weigh between 210 kg - 235 kg and males 240 kg - 405 kg.

Short legs and a ruminant-like body allow the bongo to move relatively fast through the dense vegetation.

Populations scattered across Africa

Bongos are usually found in the lowland forests from Sierra Leone in West Africa, all through Central Africa and as far as southern Sudan in east Africa. Small populations also live in the montane or highland forest of Kenya.

Understanding the bongo lifestyle

Unlike other antelope species, bongos live in herds, ranging between 5 and 50 individuals foraging for food together.

Bongos eat leaves (especially young ones), flowers, twigs, thistles, garden produce and cereals. They use their long tongues to reach for the leaves and break branches with their horns to get access to higher leaves.

The species is easily hunted by dogs and local people who rely on them for food. Poaching is contributing to the decline of bongo populations in Africa.

The bongo is classified as Lower Risk/ Near Threatened by IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).