Bongos typically live in small family groups of up to eight females, their young, and a dominant male (5), although larger ‘nursery’ groups often aggregate after the calving period and mixed-sex groups of up to 50 have been observed (8). Surplus males are usually solitary, although they may be accompanied by a younger bull (8). Most active at dawn and dusk (8), these shy, reclusive animals forage within the bushes and shrubs of the forest during the day, and only come out to the salt licks during the night (3). The diet includes a range of grasses, herbs, leaves, flowers, twigs, thistles and cereals (3). Individuals use their long, prehensile tongue for grasping leaves and pulling up roots and grasses, while their broad horns are used for pulling and breaking high branches (3) (5).
Females typically give birth to a single calf after a nine month gestation period (5) (8). For a short period after birth calves are left alone, lying still in a sheltered spot to avoid detection by predators, with the mother periodically returning to nurse the calf (2). Young are weaned at six months, and become sexually mature at around 20 months of age (2) (7).