Technology Use for Physiological State: Use of NIRS to Predict Pregnancy Status in Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus)


Sullivan K, Lavin S, Hall K, Mistry A, Williams S, Livingston S, Wheaton C, Valdes E. 2017. Technology Use for Physiological State: Use of NIRS to Predict Pregnancy Status in Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus). In Ward A, Coslik A, Brooks M Eds. Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation and AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Frisco, TX.


The eastern bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), a browsing African antelope species, is critically endangered. Diets under human care can be challenging for this species because of limited browse availability, and maintaining optimal health for reproduction is critical. Monitoring reproductive status in the bongo using fecal hormone analysis has not yet been explored; thus, we developed the methods for and validated a fecal hormone assay for detection of pregnancy in this species.  As many institutions do not have an endocrinology laboratory nor a resident endocrinologist, utilizing near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) would be a practical tool for detecting pregnancy. This technique also does not require the use of hazardous chemicals and has been applied to other species with varying success (e.g., Tolleson et al., 2001; Wiedower et al. 2012). Our objective was to develop an NIRS calibration to predict an estrogen metabolite (E1C) identified as a marker of pregnancy in dried bongo fecal samples. All animals sampled were on similar diets (Table 1).  A total of 119 oven-dried fecal samples were used from 0.3 bongos to create the calibration, including two pregnancies in 0.1 bongo in the sample set (SEC = 1.04; R2 = 0.84; cross-validation: SECV = 1.7; R2 = 0.55). A total of 50 samples (25 pregnant and 25 non-pregnant) not included in the original calibration were used to further assess the accuracy of the prediction with moderate success.  Utilizing this calibration, NIRS may be used to detect pregnancy in bongos, which has important consequences on maternal nutritional formulations and hand-rearing protocols for this species.

Sullivan Abstract NAG 2017 – pregnancy Bongo NIRS7.18.pdf     30 KB