Our quest for the elusive mountain bongo

The Bongo Surveillance Project (BSP) is a non-government organisation, with charitable trust status in Kenya.

Its founder, Mike Prettejohn, is one of the few people in the Kenya who has over 80 years of in depth knowledge and experience of the high forests and their wildlife. He has studies the bongo for over 60 years. BSP is the the only organisation in the world focused on saving the mountain bongo and the forest of Kenya.

“In 2003, I was approached by the then Aberdare Park Warden, John Muhanga, who said “We seem to have had no Bongo sightings in the Aberdares. Our last groups seen were at the Ark in 1988. Do you believe the Bongo have become extinct?” Alarm bells were ringing. This beautiful antelope in the wild, so proudly discovered, admired and reported to all in the early 1900 via The Times, was no longer being observed in the wild. This was the start of the Bongo Surveillance Project and has evolved to be my latter lifetime quest”.

– Mike Prettejohn

Early days

Mike believed the Bongo still existed, so he set up a surveillance program with local trackers. With the help of KWS and some funds, the trackers found evidence of the Bongo’s existence through dung analysis. Peter Mwangi, former Head Tracker and now honorary member, honed his mountain bongo expertise since the 1970s when he captured them for export. Along with other experienced trackers, he transitioned from hunting to conservation, using their skills to save Kenya’s iconic forest antelope.

The team began mapping areas with Bongo food plants, and captured their first Bongo photo in 2005. With more trap cameras and GPS equipment, they were able to further identify Bongo areas and prove their existence. As a result, the Mountain Bongo was listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list in 2008. The BSP surveillance program continues to explore high forests in Kenya where Bongos are known to exist.


Currently, our focus is on closely monitoring and protecting the dwindling population of mountain bongos in different regions of Kenya. While starting from the Aberdares (specifically in the Salient and Kanjwiri), at present our efforts extend to the Mau Forest Complex, which includes the Maasai Mau Forest in the northeast of the Maasai Mara National Reserve; the Mount Kenya forest and the Eburu Forest.

Recognising the importance of community involvement in conservation efforts, BSP established the School Wildlife Clubs and development projects for the local communities. Currently, we collaborate with 22 schools on education, sustainability, and environmental initiatives. 

A new millennium

In collaboration with our partners, we are actively involved in reintroducing additional mountain bongos to these areas to secure their future and promote a sustainable population. Indeed, while the Bongo groups in Aberdare and Maasai Mau are thriving, those in Eburru and Ragati Mt. Kenya are struggling due to a lack of genetic diversity.


+254 733 642 320

Sangare Conservancy, Mweiga, Aberdare National Park, Kenya