Red forest duiker

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Red forest duiker
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Cephalophus
C. natalensis
Binomial name
Cephalophus natalensis
A. Smith, 1834
Cephalophus natalensis.png
Distribution of red forest duiker

The red forest duiker, Natal duiker, or Natal red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis) is a small antelope found in central to southern Africa. It is one of 22 extant species form the subfamily Cephalophinae. While the red forest duiker is very similar to the common duiker, it is smaller in size and has a distinguishing reddish coloring. Additionally, the red forest duiker favors a denser bush habitat than the common duiker. [2] The Natal red duiker is more diurnal and less secretive than most forest duikers, so therefore it is easier for them to be observed. [3] In 1999, red forest duikers had an estimated wild population of 42,000 individuals. [1]



Red forest duikers have a body length of up to 1 m, a typical shoulder height of 43 cm, and an average mass of 14 kg. [2] [4] Both sexes have short, straight horns about 6 cm long, although in females they may be smaller in size. [2] [4] Towards the base, the horns have coarse rings and longitudinal striations, but they are smooth towards the tips. [5] The longest recorded length of horns for the red forest duiker is 11 cm. [2]

The red forest duiker is a rich reddish-brown in color, although the underparts are typically paler. [2] The hairs on the chin, throat, and insides of the ears are commonly a shade of white. [2] A tuft of reddish-brown and black hairs grow between the horns, and the tail has a white tip. [2]

A notable characteristic of the Natal red duiker's appearance is its hunched back, with front legs shorter than the hind legs. [4] These longer hind legs are in a crouched position, which serves as an advantage when the duiker senses danger and needs to flee by allowing the individual to leap quickly into nearby bush. [6]

Behavior and social organization

Red forest duikers tend to roam singly, in pairs, or small family groups, and it is rare to see a group of more than three individuals. [5] [6] The cry of red forest duikers is rather distinctive, loud, and penetrating, sounding somewhere between a snort and a whistle. [6] The call of a duiker becomes a throaty cry when the animal is distressed. [6] When the duiker has been spotted by a predator, it will first freeze, and then bound away with the characteristic duiker diving motion into the safety of the thick bush. Some of the common predators of the red duiker include eagles, pythons, and leopards. [6]

Also, red forest duikers are quite territorial, and they often mark their territory by using a substance secreted from the maxillary glands near their eyes. [4] A duiker will practice this scent marking by rubbing its face on grass, twigs, bark or other surfaces to indicate its territorial boundaries. [4] Sometimes, the Natal red duiker will even mark its territory on its mate or calf. [4]

Feeding and foraging

Red forest duikers browse on leaves, flowers, and fruits that have fallen from trees as well as low-growing shrubs. [6] [7] This usually occurs during daylight, although in heavily disturbed areas duikers can become nocturnal. [7] They are concentrate feeders, as they do not have the ability to digest fiber well. [6]

Reproduction and lifespan

On average, the gestation period for a red duiker is about 8 months. [4] When the young are born, they are a reddish-black, with a reddish-brown face. [6] Usually a single calf is born, at any time of year. [6] The young weigh about one kilogram at birth, and they will stay with their mother for approximately six to eight months. [5] Males are not involved in rearing young, but nonetheless both sexes will respond to a distress call from the calf. [5] Red forest duikers have a potential longevity of 9 years, although some have lived up to 15 years in captivity. [2] [3]

Habitat and distribution

Red forest duikers reside in forest and dense bush habitats in both mountainous and coastal areas, where surface water is readily available. [2]

This species can be found in southeastern Tanzania, Malawi, extreme northeastern Zambia, Mozambique, Eswatini, southeastern Zimbabwe, and northeast South Africa. [3] Red forest duikers can be found in Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park, and Tembe Elephant Park. [6]

Conservation threats

The red forest duiker's biggest threat is the clearing of its natural habitat, either for agriculture or human habitation. [6] Natal red duikers have disappeared from large parts of their former range, largely as a result of the loss of suitable habitat in the face of expanding human settlement, agriculture, and hunting. Nonetheless, it remains locally common within its former range. [8] Despite the decreasing population trends, the red forest duiker retains a status of Least Concern by the IUCN. [8]

Interesting facts

1. The red forest duiker has an extraordinary jumping ability when compared to other ungulates, easily clearing 1.3 meter tall nets. [9]

2. Duiker is a word meaning 'diver' in Dutch, which refers to their practice of diving into tangles of shrubbery. [10]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antelope</span> Term referring to an even-toed ruminant

The term antelope refers to numerous extant or recently extinct species of the ruminant artiodactyl family Bovidae that are indigenous to most of Africa, India, the Middle East, Central Asia, and a small area of Eastern Europe. Antelopes do not form a monophyletic group, as some antelopes are more closely related to other bovid groups, like bovines, goats, and sheep, than to other antelopes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duiker</span> Subfamily of antelopes

A duiker is a small to medium-sized brown antelope native to sub-Saharan Africa, found in heavily wooded areas. The 22 extant species, including three sometimes considered to be subspecies of the other species, form the subfamily Cephalophinae or the tribe Cephalophini.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater kudu</span> Species of woodland antelope

The greater kudu is a large woodland antelope, found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas due to declining habitat, deforestation, and poaching. The greater kudu is one of two species commonly known as kudu, the other being the lesser kudu, T. imberbis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aders's duiker</span> Species of mammal

Aders's duiker, also known as nunga in Swahili, kunga marara in Kipokomo and harake in Giriama, is a small, forest-dwelling duiker found only in Zanzibar and Kenya. It may be a subspecies of the red, Harvey's, or Peters's duiker or a hybrid of a combination of these. It is named after W. Mansfield Aders, a zoologist with the Zanzibar Government Service.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abbott's duiker</span> Species of mammal

Abbott's duiker, also known as minde in Swahili, is a large, forest-dwelling duiker found only in a few scattered enclaves in Tanzania. It may be a subspecies of the yellow-backed duiker. It is very rare, and the first photograph of an Abbott's duiker in the wild was taken as recently as 2003.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bay duiker</span> Species of mammal

The bay duiker, also known as the black-striped duiker and the black-backed duiker, is a forest-dwelling duiker native to western and southern Africa. It was first described by British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1846. Two subspecies are identified. The bay duiker is reddish-brown and has a moderate size. Both sexes reach 44–49 cm (17–19 in) at the shoulder. The sexes do not vary considerably in their weights, either; the typical weight range for this duiker is 18–23 kg (40–51 lb). Both sexes have a pair of spiky horns, measuring 5–8 cm (2.0–3.1 in). A notable feature of this duiker is the well-pronounced solid stripe of black extending from the back of the head to the tail.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue duiker</span> Species of mammal

The blue duiker is a small antelope found in central, southern and eastern Africa. It is the smallest species of duiker. The species was first described by Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg in 1789. 12 subspecies are identified. The blue duiker reaches 32–41 centimetres (13–16 in) at the shoulder and weighs 3.5–9 kilograms (7.7–19.8 lb). Sexually dimorphic, the females are slightly larger than the males. The dark tail measures slightly above 10 centimetres (3.9 in). It has short, spiky horns, around 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long and hidden in hair tufts. The subspecies show a great degree of variation in their colouration. The blue duiker bears a significant resemblance to Maxwell's duiker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jentink's duiker</span> Species of mammal

Jentink's duiker, also known as gidi-gidi in Krio and kaikulowulei in Mende, is a forest-dwelling duiker found in the southern parts of Liberia, southwestern Côte d'Ivoire, and scattered enclaves in Sierra Leone. It is named in honor of Fredericus Anna Jentink.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harvey's duiker</span> Species of mammal

The Harvey's red duiker is one of 19 species of duiker found in Tanzania and scattered through Kenya, southern Somalia and possibly central Ethiopia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suni</span> Species of antelope

The suni is a small antelope. It occurs in dense underbrush from central Kenya to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Common duiker</span> Species of mammal

The common duiker, also known as the gray duiker or bush duiker, is a small antelope and the only member of the genus Sylvicapra. This species is found everywhere in Africa south of the Sahara, excluding the Horn of Africa and the rainforests of the central and western parts of the continent. Generally, they are found in habitats with sufficient vegetation cover to allow them to hide—savannah and hilly areas, including the fringes of human settlements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black-fronted duiker</span> Species of mammal

The black-fronted duiker is a small antelope found in central and west-central Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maxwell's duiker</span> Species of mammal

The Maxwell's duiker is a small antelope found in western Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Red-flanked duiker</span> Species of mammal

The red-flanked duiker is a species of small antelope found in western and central Africa in countries as far apart as Senegal and Sudan. Red-flanked duikers grow to almost 15 in (38 cm) in height and weigh up to 31 lb (14 kg). They have russet coats, with greyish-black legs and backs, and white underbellies. They feed on leaves, fallen fruits, seeds and flowers, and sometimes twigs and shoots. The adults are territorial, living in savannah and lightly wooded habitats, and the females usually produce a single offspring each year. They have lifespans of ten to fifteen years in captivity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruwenzori duiker</span> Species of mammal

The Ruwenzori duiker or Ruwenzori red duiker is a stocky but small antelope found only in the Ruwenzori Mountains between Uganda and, probably, the Democratic Republic of Congo. They may be a subspecies of the black-fronted duiker or the red-flanked duiker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zebra duiker</span> Species of mammal

The zebra duiker is a small antelope found primarily in Liberia, as well as the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and occasionally Guinea. They are sometimes referred to as the banded duiker or striped-back duiker. It is believed to be one of the earliest duiker species to have evolved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yellow-backed duiker</span> Species of antelope

The yellow-backed duiker is a shy, forest-dwelling antelope of the order Artiodactyla, from the family Bovidae. Yellow-backed duikers are the most widely-distributed of all duikers. They are found mainly in Central and Western Africa, ranging from Senegal and Gambia on the western coast, through to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to western Uganda; their distribution continues southward into Rwanda, Burundi, and most of Zambia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife of Zambia</span>

The wildlife of Zambia refers to the natural flora and fauna of Zambia. This article provides an overview, and outline of the main wildlife areas or regions, and compact lists of animals focusing on prevalence and distribution in the country rather than on taxonomy. More specialized articles on particular groups are linked from here.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Red hartebeest</span>

The red hartebeest, also called the Cape hartebeest or Caama, is a subspecies of the hartebeest found in Southern Africa. More than 130,000 individuals live in the wild. The red hartebeest is closely related to the tsessebe and the topi.


  1. 1 2 IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2016). "Cephalophus natalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T4144A50183272. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T4144A50183272.en . Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Weston, Russell (16 March 2019). "Red Duiker - African Animals - Antelope - Wildlife".
  3. 1 2 3 "Natal Red Duiker - Big Game Hunting Records - Safari Club International Online Record Book".
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 WAZA. "Red Forest Duiker - Cephalophus natalensis : WAZA : World Association of Zoos and Aquariums". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-04-28.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Red Duiker - Common Duiker - South Africa".
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "".
  7. 1 2 "Natal Red Duiker - Cephalophus natalensis A. Smith, 1834 - Overview - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life.
  8. 1 2 "Cephalophus natalensis (Natal Duiker, Natal Red Duiker, Red Forest Duiker)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species .
  9. Vos, V. de (2 December 1979). "Extraordinary jumping ability of the Red Forest Duiker Cephalophus Natalensis". Koedoe. 22 (1): 217. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v22i1.662 via
  10. Red forest duiker