Looking regal in red one of the world’s rarest antelopes took its first steps into its enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia this week.
Born in the early hours of February 8th the calf, which is the third for mother Djembe has been off exhibit bonding with mum since birth.
Ungulate keeper, Tracy Roberts said, “Djembe is a fantastic, protective mother and cleaned the calf as soon as it was born. The calf has already learnt to follow its mother around and was very curious and energetic when exploring its exhibit for the first time.”
Dad, Ekundu and big brother, Tambo who was the last Eastern bongo born at Taronga in November 2013 have been very curious about the new arrival.
The calf is an important birth for a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It will form an important part of the Australasian breeding program which aims to save this species from extinction.
Eastern bongos are managed across the country with the aim that they will provide an insurance population if bongos go extinct in the wild.
Roberts explained, “Every birth of a healthy calf is important, with fewer than 100 of these gentle animals left in the wild. Sadly Eastern Bongo numbers have collapsed due to poaching, disease and destruction of their native habitat in Kenya’s highlands.”
Bongos were one of the last large mammal species which scientists found not discovering them till the mid-1800s. Their magnificent coat is a red-brown colour with white stripes and shoulders. This colouration helps to camouflage them in the jungle.
Taronga provides support to the Bongo Surveillance Program in central Kenya which is aiming to capture individual bongos movements using visual signs, camera traps and GPS equipment. They are also working to combat poaching by removing traps and snares which have been illegally placed.
Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo/ Paul Fahy