LAIKIPIA, Kenya, Dec 15 – The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, and other key stakeholders to commission the construction of the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary, an 800-acre indigenous forest area on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The Sanctuary will enable the rewilding of the Mountain Bongo, a beautiful, elusive and coppery red antelope with white stripes and spiral horns found in the wild in Kenya.
Endemic to the country, the Mountain Bongo has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with its population in the wild having declined to less than 100 individuals due to poaching, diseases and destruction of habitat due to human encroachment.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the Sanctuary will provide the National Bongo Task Force with animals for reintroduction into indigenous habitats such as Ragati, Eburu, Mau and Aberdares forests.
Balala added that the launch of the sanctuary is also a fundamental element in the conservation of the species and represents the next step in its breeding program.
“I am here to commission the construction of Mawingu Bongo breeding sanctuary for gradual rewilding of the captive bongos back into the wild, this underscores my commitment and that of the Government to ensure no species goes into extinction due to decisions which we could have made to secure the species and therefore I call upon all the stakeholder to focus on the implementation of the recovery plan 2019-2025,” he said.
On his part, the patron of the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, Entrepreneur and Conservationist Humphrey Kariuki stated: “It is my belief that protecting our wildlife is a win-win endeavor, because it requires us to protect their habitats, which also happen to be critical to our own communities. Indeed, the Mountain Bongo is a species whose natural habitat also happens to consist of water towers that nourish our rivers, our farms, and our homes. Therefore, the milestone we are marking today is significant not only for the species itself, but also for our communities who will enjoy the added ecological benefits provided by healthier and Sustainable habitats and ecosystems.”
Dr. Patrick Omondi, Biodiversity, Research & Planning Director at KWS reiterated that the Mawingu Bongo Sanctuary is part of the implementation of the National Mountain Bongo Recovery and Action Plan 2019 – 2023 that was launched in July 2019 in MKWC and will greatly boost the recovery of the species in the wild.
Kenya Forest Service representative, Mme Charity Muthoni said: “KFS is committed to the growth of Bongo in Kenya that is why the KFS board of directors licensed approximately 800 acres of forest land for the establishment of the Mountain Bongo Sanctuary; we are dedicated to working together with partners like KWS and MKWC to ensure the Mountain Bongo is saved in this nation.”