Rare mountain bongo born in Norfolk

Watatunga

From left, reserve founder Ed Pope with a male mountain bongo and the female with the frst calf to be born on the reserve - Credit: Watatunga

Critically endangered, barely 100 survive in the wild. But a unique Norfolk wildlife reserve is helping to ensure one of the world's rarest antelopes survives.

A mountain bongo calf was born a few days ago at the Watatunga Nature Reserve, near King's Lynn. 

It joins two females, a male calf and adult male at the centre on the outskirts of Watlington.

Illegal hunting has driven the animal almost to extinction in its natural habitat in Kenya. Watatunga is committed to preserving many different species of antelope from around the world, working with international and national conservation and research organisations to help with breeding and release of endangered species.

Reserve warden Jono Usher-Smith said: “The Mountain Bongo is a critically endangered species, found naturally in the Kenyan Highlands. It is a beautiful animal, very shy, but you can recognise its reddish-brown coat and white and yellow markings.

“Programmes such as we run here, in partnership with other organisations, are vital to the breed’s survival. Our aim is to establish a strong breeding programme and then to look to reintroduce the animals back into their natural habitat.”

Mountain bongos are just one of the many species of deer and antelope visitors to the nature reserve can see. Among the resident animals are sitatunga, roan antelope, Pere David’s deer, Kafue Flats lechwe and the stunning scimitar-horned oryx. There are also a wide range of birds wandering the woods and grasslands, including the characterful great bustard.

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Watatunga is both a nature reserve and a visitor attraction. It has been created and developed by the four person team of Ed Pope, Anna Hamilton, Julian Stoyel and Dee Dyer. It is set in 170 acres of mixed vegetation, including grassland, forest and lakes. There is also a wide mix of plants and flowers, grown specifically to mimic the diet that the animals would eat in the wild.

For more visit www.watatunga.co.uk

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