Mountain bongo (Tragelaphus euryceros isaaci) from Kenya were exported to zoological institutions in North America and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. In the following 20–30 years bongo numbers declined in Kenya and the Mountain Bongo Repatriation Project was launched. This resulted in 18 adult bongo, descendants of the original translocated bongo, being repatriated from the United States to Kenya in 2004. These newly arrived bongo were inadvertently exposed to heavy tick infestation on release in a conservancy on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Mortality and morbidity occurred during the third week after arrival. Theileria sp. infection was apparent from the history, clinical signs, and necropsy findings, and Theileria-like parasites were detected microscopically in samples from sick and dead animals. Four bongo died before the outbreak was controlled. In order to identify the Theileria parasite conclusively, molecular amplification techniques were used. A combination of reverse line blotting, with small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and nucleotide sequencing, identified the protozoan parasite Theileria taurotragi, suggesting this as the most probable cause of mortality and morbidity in the repatriated bongo.
Tragelaphus euryceros isaaci