by David Hool
MSc Conservation Genetics

I’m tired, I’m scratched and I cannot keep up with the rangers; I love it. Before coming here I joked about my lack of fitness and how weeks of walking around a mountain range would turn me into some kind of superhuman god amongst men.

“I’ll come back with mountain strength.”

This place is more of a challenge than I had imagined. So far no mountain strength but I can keep up with the rangers a little better, the rests have become less frequent and now I almost never get tunnel vision…

I’m here as part of my masters’ project, setting up camera traps for my research on Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci); it’s one of the easiest ways to study some of the species here. Elusive and critically endangered, little is know about bongo populations. There are a few of us laying the groundwork for a better understanding of the bongo and ultimately the protection of the species.

Eventually this study will contribute to estimating the number of bongo left in the wild. My project is part of this; providing we can individually identify bongo from camera trap photos. This may be easier in bongo than most other species. After all, few species walk around with what is effectively a barcode on their sides. I’m testing for variation in bongo stripes as a method to identify individuals. Is there a bongo bar code?