This research was undertaken at Kakum Conservation Area (KCA) in the Central Region of Ghana, from October 2011 to September 2012. The aim was to determine the population density and factors affecting distribution of bongos (Tragelaphuseurycerus) for management planning and conservation of the bongo as well as tourism promotion. The methodology involved a field study of sampled plots that represented three habitat types, namely closed forest, open forest and thickets and habitat classification based on canopy coverage and locations of these habitats, whether marginal or deep inside the forest within each of the nine ranges. It was observed that encounters with bongos in KCA were more likely to be during early hours of the day, from 05.00 to 07.00 h GMT and later in the day, from 17.30 to 18.00 h GMT. The usual location was in their preferred thickets at four out of the nine ranges of KCA, and their distribution was not affected by seasonality or habitat utilization. About 5.3 bongos/km2 currently occupy the KCA, which can be said to be currently under severe pressure as evidenced by the presence of hunting tools and human activities all over. The results of Pearson’s correlation coefficient regarding bongo densities and water availability suggested that sources of water affected the distribution of the bongos in the KCA since more bongos were encountered closer to water sources. This underscores the importance of sources of water in the KCA for the conservation of the bongos, and the need to ensure adequate protection of the rivers and rivulets in KCA and off-reserve areas. These results have implications for the formulation of adaptive management plans that would protect the secretive, charismatic and largest antelopes in the KCA, thereby promoting tourism.
Key words: Population density, distribution, bongos, secretive, forest margins, Kakum Conservation Area, hunting pressure, water availability, tourism.
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