Zebra duiker

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Zebra duiker
Cephalophus zebra.jpg
CITES Appendix II (CITES) [2]
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Cephalophus
C. zebra
Binomial name
Cephalophus zebra
Gray, 1838
Cephalophus zebra1.png
Distribution of zebra duiker

The zebra duiker (Cephalophus zebra) is a small antelope found primarily in Liberia, as well as the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and occasionally Guinea. [1] 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. [3]


Taxonomy and etymology

Common duiker

Abbott's duiker

Yellow-backed duiker

Jentink's duiker

Bay duiker

Zebra duiker

Phylogenetic relationships of the bay duiker (Johnston et.al. 2012)

The scientific name of the zebra duiker is Cephalophus zebra. The bay duiker is classified under the genus Cephalophus and the family Bovidae. It was first described by British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1838 in Annals of Natural History . [4] No subspecies are identified. [5] The generic name probably comes from the combination of the New Latin word cephal, meaning head, and the Greek word lophos, meaning crest. [6] The specific name zebra pertains to the striking resemblance this duiker bears to the zebra due to the presence of dorsal stripes. [7] The word "duiker" comes from the Afrikaans word duik, or Dutch duiker - both mean "diver". [8] The zebra duiker is locally known as the marking deer in Liberia. [9]

A 2001 phylogenetic study divided Cephalophus into three distinct lineages: the giant duikers, east African red duikers and west African red duikers. However, the status of two species, the zebra duiker and the Aders' duiker, remained dubious. [10] In 2012, Anne R. Johnston (of the University of Orleans) and colleagues constructed a cladogram of the subfamily Cephalophinae (duiker) based on mitochondrial analysis. They showed that within the "giant duiker" group, the bay duiker formed a clade with Jentink's duiker, and the zebra duiker is sister to this clade. Similarly, Abbott's duiker and yellow-backed duiker form a clade sister to Sylvicapra . The bay duiker and Jentink's duiker probably evolved during the Pleistocene, less than 2.5 million years ago. [11]


Zebra duikers have gold or red-brown coats with 12-16 distinctive zebra-like stripes, dark markings on their upper legs, and russet faces. Newborns appear darker because they are born with their stripes closer together. An adult can grow to 90 cm (35 in) in length, 45 cm in height, and 20 kg (44 lb) in weight. Their horns are short and round with sharp pointed tips. They are about 4.5 - 5.0 cm long in males, and half that in females. Female body size is larger than males, possibly due to long gestation periods.

Dental Formula:

0/3 I, 0/1 C, 3/2-3 P 3/3 M = 30-32 total [12]


Zebra duikers live in lowland primary rainforests, particularly by clearings and along forest margins. They are most commonly found in forested areas of the midwestern parts of Africa. [13] They can less commonly be found in hill and low-mountain forests.


They are ruminants which feed primarily on fruit, foliage, and seeds. Though rare, there is evidence that they may eat rodents on occasion. Their reinforced nasal bones enable them to crack open the hard exterior of certain fruits. [14]


The gestation period is anywhere from 221 to 229 days and the female is receptive to mating about 10 days after parturition. [15] The mother will only birth one calf at a time. A newborn can weigh from 1270 to 1550 g at birth. During the first ten days after birth, referred to as the lactation period, a newborn grows at a rate of about 94 g/day. [16] After that, the growth rate decreases considerably. Females reach sexual maturity at 9–12 months of age and males reach sexual maturity at 12–18 months. Cephalophus zebra is the only duiker species with the diploid number 2n=58.

Social behavior

Zebra duikers have displayed diurnal activity when living in captive situations, but mostly nocturnal in the wild. They are solitary animals that form pair bonds for breeding purposes. Both the male and female participate in the defense of young and home range. Adaptations include stripes and thickened nasal/frontal bones. The stripes may reduce injury to the more vulnerable abdominal area. The stripes may also make it more difficult for some predators to identify by breaking up the outline of their forms. The nasal bones allow for protection against blunt force during altercations.

Economic importance

They are hunted for bush meat. Their hides and other inedible parts can also be utilized by humans. [17]


They are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN due to deforestation, loss of habitat, and overhunting within its range. Zebra duikers are common prey to African leopards, African golden cats, rock pythons, and the crowned eagle. Additionally, some baboons and chimpanzees will hunt small antelope, such as the zebra duiker, with some troops being observed to have a preference for eating meat.

The zebra duiker has been described as the one duiker species that is the least-capable of adapting to environmental changes, thus granting it the fastest chance (and highest potential) to become extinct. The wild population is estimated at 28,000 individuals. This estimation is believed to be high, and continues to decline. Having once been more widespread, it is now more common in protected areas, in particular the Gola National Park in Sierra Leone, Sapo National Park in Liberia, and Taï National Park in Ivory Coast. [18] In a study conducted to identify areas of greatest conservation need, one zebra duiker was identified in an unprotected area of the Ziama Classified Forest of Guinea. This area is under consideration for classification as a national park, currently serving as a home to many other species categorized as rare or threatened. [19]

Related Research Articles

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

The term antelope is used to refer 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">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">Black duiker</span> Species of mammal

The black duiker, also known as tuba in Dyula, is a forest-dwelling duiker found in the southern parts of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria.

<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">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">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">Red forest duiker</span> Species of mammal

The red forest duiker, Natal duiker, or Natal red duiker 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. The Natal red duiker is more diurnal and less secretive than most forest duikers, so therefore it is easier for them to be observed. In 1999, red forest duikers had an estimated wild population of 42,000 individuals.

<i>Cephalophus</i> Genus of mammals

Cephalophus is a mammal genus which contains at least fifteen species of duiker, a type of small antelope.

Mont Sângbé National Park is a national park in Ivory Coast. The Encyclopædia Britannica lists it among the "principal national parks of the world". It acquired national park status in 1976.

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

Walter's duiker is a species of duiker found in Togo, Benin and Nigeria. It was described in 2010. Its name commemorates Professor Walter Verheyen, who was the first to obtain a specimen of this species of duiker from Togo in 1968.

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

The white-legged duiker is a medium-sized antelope species from the subfamily of duikers (Cephalophinae) within the family of bovids (Bovidae). It is native to Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. It was described as subspecies of the Ogilby's duiker by Peter Grubb in 1978. After a revision of the ungulates in 2011 by Colin Groves, it is now regarded as distinct species.


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