Last updated

Suni in Karura Forest.jpg
Suni 3.jpg
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Nesotragus
N. moschatus
Binomial name
Nesotragus moschatus
(Von Dueben, 1846)
Nesotragus moschatus distribution map.jpg
  • Neotragus moschatus

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


Suni are around 30 to 43 centimetres (12 to 17 inches) high at the shoulder and weigh 4.5 to 5.4 kilograms (9 lb 15 oz to 11 lb 14 oz). They are usually reddish brown, darker on their back than their sides and legs. The belly, chin, throat and insides of legs are white. The nostrils are prominent red, and there are black rings around the eyes and above the hooves. Males have horns 8–13 cm (3–5 in) long, that are ridged most of their length and curve backwards close to their heads. Females do not have horns. Suni can make weak barking and whistling sounds.

Suni feed on leaves, fungi, fruits and flowers, and need almost no free water. They are shy, most active at night, and sleep during the day in a shady, sheltered area. They are social but males defend a territory of about three hectares. They scent-mark the boundaries with secretions from their preorbital glands. There may be an individual or communal dung pile on the periphery of the territory. A male usually takes one mate, but other females may share his territory. A single calf is born weighing about two pounds, after a gestation of 183 days.

Felids, raptors, snakes, and other meat-eaters prey on suni. For protection, they are well camouflaged in dry grass and keep very still. When a predator is almost on top of them, they spring out and bound away into the underbrush.

Taxonomy and etymology

The scientific name of the suni is Nesotragus moschatus. It is placed in the genus Nesotragus - along with (formerly) Bates's pygmy antelope (Nesotragus batesi) - and in the family Bovidae. The common name "suni" /ˈsünē/ is the name for this antelope in southeastern Africa. [2] Four subspecies are identified, though these are sometimes considered to be independent species: [3] [4]


The suni is a small antelope, but larger than the other two species of its genus. This antelope resembles Bates's pygmy antelope in terms of cranial measurements. [4] The suni stands 33–38 centimetres (13–15 in) at the shoulder; the head-and-body length is typically between 57 and 62 cm (22 and 24 in). Both sexes weigh between 4.5 and 7 kg (9 lb 15 oz and 15 lb 7 oz). [5]

Horns are present only on males; sexual dimorphism in the suni is less marked than in Bates's pygmy antelope. [4]

Threats and conservation

Populations of the suni have been notably reduced due to poaching, habitat loss and predation by dogs - especially in South Africa, where it is confined mainly to the northeastern KwaZulu-Natal. Nevertheless, the antelope is known for its tolerance to heavy hunting pressure, and is listed as a species of Least Concern. [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Springbok</span> Antelope of southwest and south Africa

The springbok or springbuck is a medium-sized antelope found mainly in south and southwest Africa. The sole member of the genus Antidorcas, this bovid was first described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1780. Three subspecies are identified. A slender, long-legged antelope, the springbok reaches 71 to 86 cm at the shoulder and weighs between 27 and 42 kg. Both sexes have a pair of black, 35-to-50 cm (14-to-20 in) long horns that curve backwards. The springbok is characterised by a white face, a dark stripe running from the eyes to the mouth, a light-brown coat marked by a reddish-brown stripe that runs from the upper fore leg to the buttocks across the flanks like the Thomson's gazelle, and a white rump flap.

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

The lowland nyala or simply nyala, is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Tragelaphus, previously placed in genus Nyala. It was first described in 1849 by George French Angas. The body length is 135–195 cm (53–77 in), and it weighs 55–140 kg (121–309 lb). The coat is maroon or rufous brown in females and juveniles, but grows a dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides. Only males have horns, 60–83 cm (24–33 in) long and yellow-tipped. It exhibits the highest sexual dimorphism among the spiral-horned antelopes. It is not to be confused with the endangered mountain nyala living in the Bale region of Ethiopia).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Impala</span> Medium-sized antelope found in Africa

The impala or rooibok is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The only extant member of the genus Aepyceros, and tribe Aepycerotini, it was first described to Europeans by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. Two subspecies are recognised—the grassland-dwelling common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala, which lives in slightly more arid, scrubland environments. The impala reaches 70–92 cm (28–36 in) at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg (88–168 lb). It features a glossy, reddish brown coat. The male's slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) long.

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

The klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of its genus and subfamily/tribe, the klipspringer was first described by German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. The klipspringer is a small, sturdy antelope; it reaches 43–60 centimetres at the shoulder and weighs from 8 to 18 kilograms. The coat of the klipspringer, yellowish gray to reddish brown, acts as an efficient camouflage in its rocky habitat. Unlike most other antelopes, the klipspringer has a thick and coarse coat with hollow, brittle hairs. The horns, short and spiky, typically measure 7.5–9 cm.

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

The lesser kudu is a medium-sized bushland antelope, found in East Africa. It is placed in the genus Tragelaphus and family Bovidae. It was first scientifically described by the English zoologist Edward Blyth in 1869. The head-and-body length is typically 110–140 cm (43–55 in). Males reach about 95–105 cm (37–41 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 90–100 cm (35–39 in). Males typically weigh 92–108 kg (203–238 lb) and females 56–70 kg (123–154 lb). The females and juveniles have a reddish-brown coat, while the males become yellowish grey or darker after the age of 2 years. Horns are present only on males. The spiral horns are 50–70 cm (20–28 in) long, and have two to two-and-a-half twists.

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

The roan antelope is a large savanna-dwelling antelope found in western, central, and southern Africa. Named for its roan colour, it has lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. It has short, erect manes, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. It is one of the largest antelope, measuring 190–240 cm (75–94 in) from head to the base of the tail, and a 37–48 cm (15–19 in) long tail. Males weigh 242–300 kg (534–661 lb) and females 223–280 kg (492–617 lb). Its shoulder height is around 130–140 cm (51–55 in).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerenuk</span> Long-necked species of antelope (Litocranius walleri)

The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is a long-necked, medium-sized antelope found in parts of East Africa. The sole member of the genus Litocranius, the gerenuk was first described by the naturalist Victor Brooke in 1879. It is characterised by its long, slender neck and limbs. The antelope is 80–105 centimetres tall, and weighs between 18 and 52 kilograms. Two types of colouration are clearly visible on the smooth coat: the reddish brown back or the "saddle", and the lighter flanks, fawn to buff. The horns, present only on males, are lyre-shaped. Curving backward then slightly forward, these measure 25–44 cm.

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

The royal antelope is a West African antelope recognized as the world's smallest. It was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It stands up to merely 25 cm (10 in) at the shoulder and weighs 2.5–3 kg (5.5–6.6 lb). A characteristic feature is the long and slender legs, with the hindlegs twice as long as the forelegs. Horns are possessed only by males; the short, smooth, spiky horns measure 2.5–3 cm (0.98–1.18 in) and bend backward. The soft coat is reddish to golden brown, in sharp contrast with the white ventral parts. In comparison to Bates's pygmy antelope, the royal antelope has a longer muzzle, broader lips, a smaller mouth and smaller cheek muscles.

<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">Oribi</span> Species of mammal

The oribi is a small antelope found in eastern, southern and western Africa. The sole member of its genus, it was described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. While this is the only member in the genus Ourebia, eight subspecies are identified. The oribi reaches nearly 50–67 centimetres (20–26 in) at the shoulder and weighs 12–22 kilograms (26–49 lb). It possesses a slightly raised back, and long neck and limbs. The glossy, yellowish to rufous brown coat contrasts with the white chin, throat, underparts and rump. Only males possess horns; the thin, straight horns, 8–18 centimetres (3.1–7.1 in) long, are smooth at the tips and ringed at the base.

<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 (35 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">Bates's pygmy antelope</span> Species of mammal

Bates's pygmy antelope, also known as the dwarf antelope, pygmy antelope or Bates' dwarf antelope, is a very small antelope living in the moist forest and brush of Central and West Africa. It is in the same genus as the suni.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Egyptian slit-faced bat</span> Species of mammal

The Egyptian slit-faced bat is a species of slit-faced bat broadly distributed throughout Africa and the Middle East. It is a species of microbat in the family Nycteridae. Six subspecies are known.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">African broadbill</span> Species of bird

The African broadbill, also known as the black-capped broadbill or Delacour's broadbill, is a species of bird in the sub-oscine family Calyptomenidae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot</span> Southern Africa biodiversity hotspot

The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot (MPA) is a biodiversity hotspot, a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity, in Southern Africa. It is situated near the south-eastern coast of Africa, occupying an area between the Great Escarpment and the Indian Ocean. The area is named after Maputaland, Pondoland and Albany. It stretches from the Albany Centre of Plant Endemism in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, through the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism and KwaZulu-Natal Province, the eastern side of Eswatini and into southern Mozambique and Mpumalanga. The Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism is contained in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique.


  1. 1 2 IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2016). "Nesotragus moschatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T14604A50191073. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T14604A50191073.en . Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. "Suni". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  3. "Neotragus moschatus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  4. 1 2 3 Groves, C.; Grubb, P. (2011). Ungulate Taxonomy. Baltimore, Maryland (USA): Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 148–50. ISBN   978-1-4214-0093-8.
  5. Castelló, J.R. (2016). Bovids of the World: Antelopes, Gazelles, Cattle, Goats, Sheep, and Relatives. Princeton, New Jersey (USA): Princeton University Press. pp. 27–32. ISBN   9781400880652.