Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bongo Dreamin....

It’s raining…again. It’s been raining for days and days—the usual weather pattern during the U.S. infamous hurricane season. The cypress head in the back of the property is finally full almost to overflowing. It’s my favorite place on the 30-acres of land I’m lucky enough to call home. A group of 5 bongo antelope live in this area (of the 13 bongo living at RSCF)—one Africa’s most endangered large mammals, and the flagship species for the Mount Kenya National Park, a United Nations. designated World Heritage Site.

The cypress-head is a truly magical spot. Knobby wooden cypress “knees” push up through fern and muck, while mature cypress stand straight and tall, their branches twisting to the sky. Great blue herons and scissortail kites nest here, along with the impressive pileated woodpecker—one of my favorite native birds. You can hear the hollow knocking of a determined pileated drilling a pine for grubs a mile away—long before you catch sight of that fabulous brilliant red headdress and dramatic black and white wing-span.

It gets deliciously misty back here, and in the early morning light we often come upon the lead bongo bull, “Squiggy” taking a bath with one or more of his favorite females in the main pond of the cypress head. They lounge ass-deep in duckweed, blissfully at peace in a dream-like setting. Bongos are spectacular animals. 800-1000 lbs of caramel and white striped hide topped with dramatic, twisting horns that can reach over three feet in length. In January of 2004 we sent 18 of these magnificent creatures by private plane back to their native homeland of Africa. The goal is to build a captive breeding population that will eventually be released into the protected Mount Kenya National Park. Someday, bongo from my backyard will run free in Africa—sort of mind-blowing when you think about it.

But back here on the farm, you can almost forget that you are on the very edge of frightening suburban sprawl and reckless development. I envy the bongo this peace and tranquility, and will fight to the death to insure that they have it for all of their days.
From Curator, Karen McGovern

No comments: