Hunting bongo in Cameroon must be one of the most challenging and thrilling hunts that you can ever undertake in your life. Because of the features of the rain forest, it is very difficult to see animals even at short distances. All the hunting in the Cameroon rain forest is therefore done very close up and personal. The average distance for shooting any of the animals in the rain forest, is between 10 and 15 m – sometimes much closer.

A bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus, the largest, most colourful and most sociable of the African forest antelopes, is a spiral-horned antelope with the same body weight as a kudu bull. The bongo is a herbivorous, mostly nocturnal forest ungulate. They are characterised by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long, slightly spiralled horns. Indeed, bongos are the only tragelaphid in which both sexes have horns.
Bongo is found in Cameroon, Congo DRC, Congo Brazzaville and the CAR, of which the only two huntable countries at this moment are Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville. Ninety per cent of the bongo hunted in Africa is hunted in Cameroon.

Behaviour and diet
Bongo have a craving for salt. Like other antelope, they are herbivorous browsers that feed on leaves, bushes, vines, bark, grasses, roots, cereals, shrubs, flowers and fruits. They also require salt in their diet and will visit natural salt / mineral licks during the night.
They scare easily. These largest of forest antelope are quite timid and are easily frightened. They will run away after a scare – at considerable speed – and seek cover, where they stand still and alert with their backs to the disturbance. Their hindquarters are less conspicuous than the forequarters, and from this position, the animal can quickly flee.
Bongo are mostly solitary. Adult males of a similar size or age seem to try to avoid one another. Even though they are relatively non-territorial, they will meet and spar with their horns in a ritualised manner. Sometimes, serious fights will take place but they are usually discouraged by visual displays, in which the males bulge their necks, roll their eyes, and hold their horns in a vertical position, while slowly pacing back and forth in front of the other male. Younger mature males most often remain solitary, although they sometimes join up with an older male. They seek out females only at mating time. When they are with a herd of females, males do not coerce them or try to restrict their movements, as do other antelope.
Females bear calves in specific areas. They use traditional calving grounds, restricted to certain areas. The new-born calf lies in hiding for a week or more, receiving short visits by the mother to suckle it. Calves grow rapidly and are quickly able to accompany their mothers in the nursery herds.

Hunting methods
A normal hunting day will start by leaving the camp early in the morning before sunrise and looking for single male bongo tracks. Bongos are typically hunted in the months of April to July. Because of the unique vegetation in the rain forest, you encounter a lot of vines, plants and trees full of thorns, which makes it a necessity to cover up with long pants and long-sleeved shirts. You also have to cover up for various insects such as flies, mosquitoes and, the worst of them all, the forest ants that bite and sting. It is, however, difficult to cover up because of the heat and humidity, but is essential for coping with the challenging environment. Any good olive-green cotton shirt and pants that are a bit rugged and will blend in with the forest, such as the Johnson stretch-action fit ranges, will be suitable.
For boots, any good quality canvas boot will do well, as they dry out much quicker than leather boots. You need to take two pairs with you. My favourite is the Lowa boot, available at Safari Outdoor.
I also use a baseball cap and a bandana to cover up my neck to keep the ants from falling into my shirt. A head net is always a good idea.
It is extremely hot and sweaty in the forest, so rehydration is of the utmost importance. A hydration backpack, such as a Camel backpack with a water bladder, is crucial.
All your necessary electronic equipment, such as cameras, GPS, cell phone, satellite phones, etc. must be kept in ziplock bags in your backpack at all times, as the constant rain will cause damage if left unprotected.
Because we use dogs to bay the bongo, it makes no sense in

following a family group of bongo as the dogs will then bay either a female or a calf. The dogs in the rain forest are used to bay the bongo to give the PH and the client enough time to determine whether it is a male or female animal – and if it is a male, to determine if it would be a worthwhile trophy.
The dogs do not track the bongo; the Pigmy trackers do. The dogs only see the animal once it moves, and in the act of seeing the bongo, hopefully you are lucky enough that one of the dogs will get behind the animal. If you can get one or two dogs behind a bongo, there is a good chance of the dogs baying the animal.
The bay normally does not last for too long. The dogs cannot do any harm to the antelope due to the sheer size of these animals. Should the bongo see the hunters, it can and will break the bay and simply run away and disappear into the forest. It is therefore of the utmost importance that as soon as you hear the dogs barking, you get to the bay area as quickly as possible.
And this is where the difficulties come into play. You are trying to run through a forest that is so thick that it is difficult to crawl through, while you know you have to get to the bay area as quickly as possible. When you reach the area where the bongo is bayed, you need to determine as quickly as possible if it is a male, and if so, whether it is a large enough male for a trophy.
The next step is to try and find a clean, unobstructed shooting lane through the cluster of forest leaves, so that the shot hits the bongo unobstructed. It is very easy to hit something in-between yourself and the bongo, thus a substantial calibre is preferable.
As far as rifles go, the best type of gun to use is one made of stainless steel with a plastic or synthetic stock. Open sights are a good idea because of the shot distance and the quick shooting that takes place. Calibre wise, anything from a .375 upwards will be sufficient. Just remember that we do have very aggressive forest buffalo and elephant in the same area where we hunt bongo. For that reason and the short visible distance of real dangerous game, bigger calibres are always a better idea.
We normally try not to shoot any bulls under 27″, and because we hunt in some of the best hunting areas in the world, a large number of the trophies we take each year is over 30″.
Because of the nature of the rain forest there are no roads.

Everything that is shot in the forest is cut up and carried out. Everything, including the trophy, is processed there and then in the rain forest. The final detail is done in camp.
We have had a 100% success rate in hunting trophy bongo in the last 17 years because of the huge effort and investment by Pepe Chelet and the whole Chelet family. It takes a year-long intensive process of anti-poaching and scouting every single day to curb the huge amount of poaching that is crippling the whole of Africa on a daily basis. Because of this continuous effort by Pepe Chelet and his family, the WWF has determined that the gorilla population in the Lubeke National Park and adjacent hunting areas has increased by an amazing 350% over the last 10 years. This is a clear and unequivical testimony to the tremendous contribution made to conservation by hunting outfitters. ASM