SA Wildlife: The Almost Extinct Duiker {Cephalophus} (Photo)

Duiker are small antelopes that inhabit forest or dense bushland. They are a good example of how an animal can be very successful in finding and filling a certain ecological niche.

They are the most widespread of all the forest antelopes. A striking peculiarity of duiker in the genus Cephalophus is that they all have the same distinctive body type, although the different species vary in size.

Duikers have low-slung bodies on slender legs, wedge-shaped heads topped by a crest of long hair, and relatively large eyes. With their heads held close to the ground, duikers can move easily through the dense vegetation of forests and bushlands. They regularly run through these areas and when disturbed, plunge into thick cover to hide. This trait is the source of the name “duiker,” which in Dutch means “diver”.




24 inches (bush duiker); Weight: 40 to 45 pounds (bush duiker).

Scientific Names

Blue duiker: Cephalophus monticla

Yellow-backed duiker: Cephalophus silvicultor

Bush duiker: Sylvicapra grimmi


Forest and bush.

Diet – Herbivores

Fruit, leaves, seeds and foliage. Duikers are almost exclusively browsers. diet consists of leaves, twigs, fruits, flowers and seeds of a large variety of trees and shrubs. They also dig for tubers and roots and eat unusual items such as young birds, caterpillars and lizards. They are independent of water and rarely drink even where it is freely available.


Duiker mature rapidly and females are able to conceive when they are about eight months old.


Gestation is 5 to 7 months.

Life Expectancy

12 years


  • Humans
  • Eagles
  • Lions
  • leopards

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