If you have visited the gallery section you will have seen some photos of our initial trial of a satellite transmitter or PTT installed on a male bongo last year. Using satellite transmitters on wildlife is not new to wildlife conservation management. However, the method in which we attach the transmitter to a bongo is much different. Typically transmitters have been attached to land dwelling animals by the use of a collar. This type of equipment could be problematic for the forest dwelling bongo. The forest is very dense with brush, vines and other vegetation which could become entangled in the collar around the bongo’s neck. Bongo antelope also enjoy using their horns to pull and manipulate the bush and dig in the earth. For this reason we tested our first transmitter by attaching it to the horn of the bongo with fiberglass casting material. Unfortunately the shape of the transmitter housing only allowed for the attachment to be on the frontal surface of the horn. Consequently, after three months, the bongo damaged the antenna of the transmitter by digging in the earth. But during this three month period the satellite transmitter performed well, passing vital location information to the satellite daily.
We are currently developing a new housing for the transmitter (PTT) that is molded to the rear surface of the bongo horn. This will allow for a stable attachment of the PTT to the horn and provide protection from contact with the earth and other elements of the forest. The antenna will also be modified to position the antenna for optimal transmission and will be constructed of a more rigorous material. The data transmitted by the PTT to the satellite is received daily and can be viewed on the computer using the google earth program.