Kenya targets to have 1,000 mountain bongos by the year 2050, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has said.
Balala said that the government had noted with concern that the key endangered species were no longer the big animals such as elephants and rhinos but some species of the antelopes, hence there was a need to refocus conservation efforts.
“It is the Hirola, the roan antelope, sable antelope, and the mountain bongos. These are the ones we have ignored for a long time but now we are putting emphasis on them,” the CS said.
Speaking on Wednesday at Mt Kenya Safari club where he oversaw the release of two male mountain bongos into the wild, Balala said that more focus will be put to conserve the endangered antelopes since after earlier constant focus on the big animals, their numbers were now stable.
“That’s the target we have set in our action plan. To increase the population of mountain bongos for this country that currently stands at 67 only,” he added.
Balala revealed that the two bongos released into the wild will roam a sanctuary within the Mt Kenya Forest donated by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) where they will be closely monitored to ensure that they increase in population to reach the desired numbers.
Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Head Robert Ahuro, said that the two males aged two and a half and three years, would also meet three other females released earlier into the sanctuary, and are expected to reproduce.
He said that the re-wilding process of the bongos also entailed releasing other species of animals into the sanctuary so that the bongos could get a real feeling of being in the wild.
By Martin Munyi