Kenya’s first attempt in decades to reintroduce an extinct species to the wild
A 250-acre tract of woodland in the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve is the first phase of a new reserve for mountain bongos and black rhinoceroses. The government of Meru County in Kenya is defending the new bongo and black rhino sanctuary through an ongoing Public Private People Partnership (PPPP).
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) has red-listed the Mountain Bongo antelope for critical threat, but with a large population raised and managed by the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Florida, it can sort of now return to his original Kenyan home and live in the sanctuary.
According to an organizational release,1 the wild population of mountain bongos was once abundant on Mount Kenya, but has since declined to fewer than 100 animals due to habitat degradation, forest fragmentation, poaching, and other human influences.
A large healthy population of black rhinoceros is currently thriving at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya and will be connected over time to the new reserve and the larger Mount Kenya ecosystem through a series of wildlife corridors that will allow for further recovery of the species.
The release stated that this initiative will be implemented in phases, with Bongos being introduced to the reserve during the first phase and black rhinoceroses in the second. The returned bongos are placed in spacious, purpose-built, fenced enclosures where they are closely observed to ensure their acclimation. The new refuge will allow bongo groups to reproduce and thrive so that future generations can be reabsorbed into the wild in the Mount Kenya forest ecosystem.1
The Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust is tasked with implementing the project under the leadership of the following stakeholders:1:
- The Government of Meru County
- Kenya Forest Service
- Kenya Wildlife Service
- Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust
- Ntimaka and Kamulu . Community Forest Management Associations
- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
- Rare Species Conservatory Foundation
- Florida International University’s Tropical Conservation Institute
The Bongo Repatriation PPPP project was presented and shared as a model for the conservation of critically endangered species at the recent IUCN’s Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) held in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2022. It was the first gathering of leaders, citizens, and advocacy groups from across Africa to discuss the role of protected areas in preserving wildlife, protecting Africa’s vital fauna, providing vital ecosystem services, promoting sustainable development and keeping Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions alive.1
Kenya on track to establish a new reserve for Mountain Bongo and Black Rhino on Mount Kenya. news item. Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust. Aug 4, 2022. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kenya-on-path-to-establish-new-mountain-bongo-and-black-rhino-sanctuary-on-mt-kenya-301599754. html