Mountain bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci)


The mountain bongo can be found in Heart of Africa, which is behind the giraffe house.

Fast facts

Status Critically endangered

Size Head and body length: 170-250cm. Tail length: 45-65cm

Weight Females: 210-235kg. Males: 240-405kg

Gestation 9-9 ½ months

Young 1

Life span up to 20 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Bongos will eat plants such as grasses, herbs, leaves, flowers, twigs, cereals and thistles. These shy animals will go in search of food (forage) mostly during dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They also go searching for ‘salt licks’ which gives them more nutrients and minerals in their diet.

Bongos have a long flexible tongue that they use to grasp on to food to bring in their mouths. They even use their horns to pull and break higher branches to get more food.


Where do I live?

Mountain bongos are found in very small populations in the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mau Forest and Eburu Forest in East Africa.

These large and very shy antelopes prefer to live in forest habitats, such as lowland forests and tropical forests that have dense vegetation which gives them plenty of places to hide.



Bongos live in small family groups of around 8, which includes females with their young and a dominant male. The males that do not have a herd of females will live on their own (solitary).

When the females are close to giving birth, they will go to a sheltered spot and have their calf in dense vegetation to keep them hidden away from predators. The mothers will leave their calves in these thick plants and will come back to feed them. As the calf gets stronger, they will follow their mother back to the rest of the group. Young bongos are weaned from their mother by around 6 months old and are fully mature at 20 months old.



The main natural predators of the mountain bongo are lions.  To protect themselves, bongos use their colourations to blend in to the dense vegetation in their habitat.



Mountain bongos are facing many threats in the wild, from being hunted with dogs, habitat loss caused by illegal logging, more land wanted for human settlements and farming. They have also been affected by the spread of disease by domestic animals (such as ‘rinderpest’ in the 1980’s), and competing for food and water with livestock animals.

There are different projects in place to protect mountain bongo in the wild. These include reintroduction programmes, promoting awareness to local communities, and also research of these animals in their natural environment.

The mountain bongo is found in zoos across the world and is part of a captive breeding programme. The aim of this is to ensure the survival of the species in captivity.

Did you know?

The Bongo is the largest and heaviest forest antelope.

The horns of the mountain bongo can be up to a metre long! 

Both male and female bongos have horns. The horns on the males tend to be larger and thicker than the females.


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Residential group trip to Marwell

We visited Marwell Zoo for the day with a large group of our sheltered housing residents from Portsmouth. It was a super day which all the residents enjoyed. There was something for everyone and a favourite animal for everyone! Residents felt there was so much to see, and lovely facilities on… Read full reviewRachael, 8th September 2017