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Bongo or Forest Antelope

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The bongo or forest antelope, Tragelaphus eurycerus, is a large, rare African antelope that lives in dense mountain forests and lowland rainforests. In some areas, bongos migrate up the mountain slopes during the dry season; they return down the mountain during the rainy season.

Bongos are the only forest antelope that gathers in herds (of about 20 animals). They are fast runners who can also jump very well, but they often go around or under obstacles in the forest. These shy antelopes like to wallow in mud. They are mostly nocturnal (more active at night). Bongos have a 19-year life span in captivity (the life span in the wild is unknown). Bongos were first described by Ogilby in 1837.

Horns: Both male and female bongos have twisted, backswept horns that are up to about 31 in (80 cm) long. Like all horns, they are not shed, but continue to grow throughout the bongo's life.

Anatomy: These graceful mammals are roughly 4 ft (1.2 m) tall at the shoulder; males weigh about 650 pounds and females weigh about 530 pounds. The short, glossy fur is chestnut brown to dark brown, with white to cream spots and stripes; the coat camouflages the bongo in its shady forest environment. A short, bristly, brown-and-white mane runs along the back. Males are larger and darker than females. Bongos have very large ears and big eyes; they use their sense of sight and hearing to detect leopards and other predators.

Diet: Bongos are herbivores (plant-eaters). They eat leaves, shrubs, flowers, young shoots, and grasses. They spend most of their time browsing, using their prehensile tongue to get vegetation, and using their horns to uproot young plants. Bongos have been known to eat burnt wood, perhaps for its salt content.

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