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On 21st February 2023, the Meru County Government, championing the new Bongo and Black rhino sanctuary through an ongoing Public Private People Partnership (PPPP), broke ground on the 250-acre parcel of forest land in the Marania and Muchiene state-owned forest covers within the Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve.

The PPPP, led by the Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust, has been entrusted with the implementation of the project guided by the following stakeholders: the Meru County Government, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Ntimaka and Kamulu Community Forest Associations, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, and Florida International University’s Tropical Conservation Institute.

Previously widely distributed across Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares, Mau, Eburru Forest and their environs, the wild Mountain Bongo population has significantly declined to less than 100 animals due to habitat degradation, forest fragmentation, poaching, and other human-related activities. On Mt. Kenya, once the stronghold for this species, the Mountain Bongo have all but disappeared into the wild. This project aims to restore the wild Mt. Kenya population, engage local communities in eco-tourism and eco-friendly sustainable agriculture, and leverage protection for biodiversity across the Mt. Kenya ecosystem.

This initiative will be carried out in stages, with Bongos introduced into the sanctuary during the first phase and Black rhinos introduced in the second. The returned Bongos will be placed in spacious, specially built, fence-protected enclosures where they will be closely observed to ensure their acclimation. The new sanctuary enables Bongo groups to breed and thrive, providing future generations to be rewilded into Mt. Kenya’s forest ecosystem.

This project demonstrates the first effort in several decades of a public-private partnership of its kind in Kenya aimed to re-introduce a wildlife species that had gone extinct within the northern slope of the Mt. Kenya Forest. It brings together key stakeholders with the highest level of experience and expertise in wildlife conservation to join hands with the local communities to bring back and protect rare species for the benefit of conservation and economic development.

The Bongo and Black rhino initiative exemplifies the core of community-based conservation as a long-term, multi-stakeholder, public-private partnership.

For more information, visit the County Government of Meru website.

Find out more:

John Kinoti,
Meru Bongo and Rhino Conservation Trust

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