New Mountain Bongo and Black Rhino sanctuary to come on Mt. Kenya
First effort in Kenya for several decades aimed at re-introducing a wildlife species that had gone extinct
A 250-acre parcel of forest land in the Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve is the first phase of a new Mountain Bongo and Black Rhino sanctuary. Meru County Government in Kenya is championing the new Bongo and Black rhino sanctuary through an ongoing Public Private People Partnership (PPPP).
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) red-listed the Mountain Bongo antelope for critical endangerment, but with a large population being raised and managed by the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Florida, this species can now return to its native Kenyan home and live in the sanctuary.
According to an organizational release,1 the wild mountain bongo population was once abundant across Mt. Kenya but has since declined to fewer than 100 animals due to habitat degradation, forest fragmentation, poaching, and other human impacts.
A large healthy population of Black rhinos currently thrive at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya and will be connected to the new sanctuary and the greater Mt. Kenya ecosystem over time through a series of wildlife corridors enabling further recovery of the species.
The release stated that this initiative will be carried out in stages, with Bongos introduced into the sanctuary during the first phase and Black rhinos introduced in the second. The returned Bongos will be placed in spacious, specially built, fence-protected enclosures where they will be closely observed to ensure their acclimation. The new sanctuary enables Bongo groups to breed and thrive, providing future generations to be rewilded into Mt. Kenya's forest ecosystem.1
The Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust is entrusted with the implementation of the project guided by the following stakeholders1:
- The Meru County Government
- Kenya Forest Service
- Kenya Wildlife Service
- Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust
- Ntimaka and Kamulu Community Forest Associations
- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
- Rare Species Conservatory Foundation
- Florida International University's Tropical Conservation Institute
The Bongo Repatriation PPPP project was featured and shared as a model for the conservation of critically endangered wildlife species at the recent IUCN’s Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) held in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2022. It was the first meeting of leaders, citizens, and interest groups from all over Africa who gathered to talk about the role of protected areas in preserving nature, protecting Africa's vital wildlife, providing vital ecosystem services, promoting sustainable development, and keeping Africa's cultural heritage and traditions alive.1
Kenya on path to establish new Mountain Bongo and Black Rhino sanctuary on Mt. Kenya. News release. Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust. August 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