Google goes for Bongo

» Posted on Oct 27, 2007 in Blog | 0 comments

Google goes for Bongo

This week marked a big step forward in the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy’s Bongo rehabilitation to Mount Kenya project.

We welcomed once again Ron Surratt, chairman of the U.S based Bongo Species Survival Program, our partners in this important conservation project. This time he was able to bring the long awaited satellite transmitter and attached it to the horns our magnificent bull Burukenge.

Ron Surratt implants transmitter

Why don’t you use “chips” everyone cried. Chips are the latest in tiny communication devices that can be embedded in the flesh of an animal to send back radio signals. But the system does require a human monitor, the sort we have all seen in documentaries, riding a jeep and holding an antennae to pick up these signals when in the close vicinity of the animal.

It makes exciting footage, but it is far from practical when you think of the thick impenetrable mountain jungles where these rare antelopes are to be re-established.

There still is of course old fashioned telepathy…
Big Mama Rhino

While our team was working with the bongo silently so as not to cause added stress to the animal, our Rhino Big Mama however had already received the message. She rushed up to the site from a mile away to be “the first to know” what exactly was going on. If animals could only talk or sign they would be a great help. Maybe Monkeys could be trained to keep an eye on the Bongo and report back. Could that be in the future?

The device young Burukenge now wears “reports” to a satellite. Information of the animals’ movement can be received through Google and enables a researcher sitting comfortably a continent away if need be, to follow and record and analyze the animals steps.

If successful, Burukenge will be the leader of a first small group of Bongo in training for a 2008 wilderness release. Data collected are invaluable in telling us much of the movement and fate of this first group and will pave the way for subsequent releases.

I must admit, my memory failed me when it came to the melodic Kiswahili name “Burukenge,” but Bunge, our Wildlife Manager, reminded me that it means: Monitor Lizard. What a weird name for a Bongo, you think. But now I remember: He was born in 2002 to our cow “Kidogo” (small one), and he preferred rolling on the ground to standing for most of his first few days in this world. “Burukenge” was what the keepers named him and it stuck.
But now time is ripe for an adult name for this magnificent five year old Bull with such a brilliant future.

How about YOUR name, as in “Burukenge SMITH” ?

There is no doubt that this bull will make world headlines as he is destined to be the first to set foot on his ancestral home of Mount Kenya after an absence of his forefathers there for many years.

With a meaningful donation to help the project along he could take your name out there to be the star of one of the world’s most important conservation projects.

For details of the adoption of Burukenge or other animals please send us a message by use of the Contact Form.

With your help we have once gain come one step closer to realizing this dream.

Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy