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Found only in African rain forests with dense undergrowth, healthy populations of the threatened bongo antelope (Tragelaphus eurycerus) are at home in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the north-west of the Republic of Congo, and Chinko in the east of the Central African Republic.

© Craig McIntosh/ African Parks
© Craig McIntosh/ African Parks

Bongo populations have diminished due to the loss of habitat and as a result of poaching (for meat and horns). As the largest and heaviest forest antelope, bongos have few threats except humans who target the antelope using snares and hunting dogs.

© Chuckupd
© Chuckupd

Here are 10 reasons why you should be bonkers for bongos:

1. Their spiralled, lyre-shaped horns can grow to up to 40 inches long.

2. Bongos are the only tragelaphid in which both sexes have horns.

3. As the generally better looking gender, female bongos tend to be more brightly coloured than males.

4. Bongos have no special secretion glands so there is no need for them to rely heavily on their sense of smell to identify each other and their territories.

5. Research shows that they are highly visual animals, relying more on sight and sound than most antelopes.

6. As herbivores they crave salt and will visit salt licks to ensure they have enough minerals in their diet.

7. Bongos are timid souls and will flee at considerable speed to seek cover if they feel the need. So be nice.

8. The bongo’s hindquarters are less conspicuous than its forequarters. When scared, they will stand still with their backs to the potential threat, and hope that no one notices them.

9. Bongos have 10 to 15 vertical white stripes running down their chestnut coat, which acts as camouflage from predators. However,  bongos are able to recognise one another other by their unique stripes, kind of like a unique fingerprint.

10. The pigmentation in their coat apparently rubs off quite easily, and reports suggest that rain running off a bongo may be tinted red with pigment.

© Ltshears
© Ltshears

To read more about Odzala-Kokoua National Park see: The Living Forest

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African Parks

African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments, wildlife organisations and local communities. We operate thirteen national parks in nine countries: Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi and Benin. Please see www.african-parks.org or visit our Facebook page for more information.