A critically endangered Eastern bongo is the latest resident to join Pembrokeshire’s Folly Farm.
The Eastern bongo, also know as mountain bongo, is among the rarest animals in the world, with fewer than 150 left in the wild. It is one of the largest of the African forest antelope species, and its endangered status is mainly due to deforestation and poaching, as it is targeted for its sought-after chestnut red and white coats in its African homeland.
The four-year-old new arrival Maja will be living in a specially built new enclosure at Folly Farm.
Fully grown bongo can reach up to 500kg, with their horns reaching up to 40 inches long. They can have anywhere between 10 and 15 stripes, and usually live to around 19 years old.
Lynsey Brenchley, head keeper of hoofstock and small mammals at Folly Farm, said: “I’m really looking forward to getting to know Maja, and welcoming her to the family at Folly Farm. Bongos are usually quite shy animals, but so far she’s been settling in very well and spends most of her time people watching. She also seems to have a soft spot for the dwarf mongoose that lives in the same enclosure, so hopefully they’ll become close housemates.
“The growing human population has meant that the Eastern bongo is one of the rarest animals on the planet, with fewer than 150 currently living in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting. Conservation is very important to us, and we’re keen supporters of the Bongo Surveillance Project to help ensure the future of the species.
“The project was founded in 2004 in the Aberdare forests of central Kenya, one of the last places the Eastern bongos are known to survive in the wild. A team of experienced trackers gather scientific data on the presence and distribution of the remaining mountain bongo as well as data on human activity within their habitat in order to protect the animals while working with local communities and stakeholders worldwide."
Maja the bongo isn’t the only one moving into a new enclosure. Two Bactrian camels, James and Genghis, will also receive a new purpose-built house next door to the bongo enclosure as part of Folly Farm’s commitment to develop its existing enclosures. The two critically endangered Bactrian camels, native to the rocky deserts of Mongolia and China, can weigh up to 1800 lbs and are over 7ft tall at the hump.
Lynsey continued: “James and Genghis are real characters, and have quite an appetite! They eat around 3kg of special camel pellets every day, as well as alfalfa, hay and loads of leaves and bark from cut pieces of tree.
“The camels’ native homes in Mongolia and China can reach up to 40 degrees in the summer, but nearly -30 degrees in the winter, so they have a thick shaggy coat to protect them in winter, which falls away in the summer when the temperature rises. Our boys look particularly hilarious and scruffy as they start to lose their coats in dribs and drabs when we come into spring - Genghis in particular looks a bit like he’s wearing a wig.
“They have a bit of a bromance going on, but I’m sure they will be very welcoming and friendly to their new neighbour Maja, as they’re going to be living opposite each other in the new enclosure.”
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