Scientific Name 

Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci

Conservation Status

Where to see them
Bongo habitat between the African Plains and The Ford African Rain Forest; the Zoo’s bongos rotate with yellow-backed duikers in this habitat.

Fun Facts

The red pigmentation in the bongo’s coat rubs off quite easily.

The shape of the bongos’ horns matches the contour of their backs; by tilting their horns on their backs, they can run through the densest forest without impediment.

All 132 bongos in North America are from the isolated Aberdare Mountains of central Kenya.

 Eastern Bongo

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Eastern bongos are among the largest of the African forest-dwelling antelope species. Both males and females are similar in height and stand 4 to 5 feet tall. Males are heavier than females; the average male weighs 650 pounds, and the average female weighs 530 pounds. Both males and females grow heavy, semi-spiraling, three- foot long horns.

Historically, bongos occurred in three discontinuous parts of Africa: east, central and west. Today all three populations’ ranges have shrunk in size due to habitat loss for agriculture and uncontrolled timber cutting, as well as hunting for meat. Eastern bongo populations are now restricted to two parks in Kenya.
Mountainous Aberdare forests of Kenya; bongos favor disturbed forest mosaics, areas with random clearings that provide fresh, low-level green vegetation. Such habitats are created by elephants browsing, fires, flooding, and tree-felling (naturally or by logging).  Mass bamboo die-off provides ideal habitat for bongos in east Africa.


Bongos are gregarious and non-territorial, but they are timid and easily frightened. They live herds ranging in size from two to 50 animals of both sexes and all ages. They prefer the safety of the dense jungle but will venture out in to open spaces to feed on new plant growth or forage in swamps. Bongos can live 20 years.

Bongos are herbivorous browsers and feed on tree/bush leaves, bushes, vines, bark and pith of rotting trees, grasses/herbs, and fruits. Bongos require salt in their diet and are known to regularly visit natural salt licks. They require a permanent water source for drinking.

Life Cycle
Female bongos give birth to a single calf following a nine and a half month pregnancy. The calves grow rapidly and can soon accompany their mothers in nursery herds. Calves are weaned after six months and reach sexual maturity at about 2 years old. 

Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)

Elephants, duikers, bush pigs and forest buffaloes

Population Status & Threats
It is estimated that less than 500 eastern bongos remain in the wild. The major threats to the bongo populations are habitat destruction, poaching and domestic livestock diseases.

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts

Zoo Atlanta is a member of the AZA Bongo Species Survival Plan.