Facts About The Red Forest Duiker

Small but terrible—the Red Forest Duiker is a small antelope that have admirable characteristics and features. If you haven’t heard of the Red Forest Duiker yet, make sure to read further to know more about this animal!

What is the Red Forest Duiker?

The Red Forest Duiker is famed for many names: Red Duiker, Natal Duiker, Natal Red Duiker, Chisimbi, and its binomial name, Cephalophus natalensis. This small antelope is categorized under the subfamily of Cephalophinae. While this animal looks similar to its closest relative, the Common Duiker, its red coat and smaller size make it distinctive than the latter.

The name “Duiker” was derived from a Dutch word that means “diver,” which refers to the animal’s way of diving itself into the tangles of plants and shrubbery.

This animal is endemic to the central and southern regions of the African continent. Compared to other ungulates, the Red Forest Duiker has a peculiar jumping ability that reaches as high as 1.3 meters.

Its population is facing a present threat caused by humans. Locals hunt Red Forest Duikers, and they are clearing their habitats for agricultural purposes and human habitation. Despite the continuous decline of their number, this species is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Its seven levels of scientific classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Genus: Cephalophus

Species: C. natalensis

Physical description of a Red Forest Duiker

The Red Forest Duiker is smaller and more slender than a Common Duiker, growing up to 1 meter only. Its shoulder height stands at 43 cm, while it weighs an average of 14 kg. Both male and female Forest Duikers have short horns with coarse rings and smooth tips that protrude from its skull. The horns only extend for an average of 6 cm. The longest recorded horn length, however, is 11 cm.

The Red Forest Duiker can be easily distinguishable because of its reddish-brown or tawny red coat. Its underparts are paler than the rest of the body. Its nape, chin, ears, and throat are off-white in color, but it turns ash-grey as the small antelope ages. The color of its face is relatively darker than the color of its body. A tuft of long hairs is present in between its horns.

Aside from its reddish-brown color, one notable feature is its hunched back, with front legs that are a lot shorter than its hind legs. The short front legs are their advantage, making it easier for them to escape a predator by leaping into a nearby bush.

Red Forest Duiker’s Distribution and Habitat

This species is distributed among the countries in southeast Africa, including South Africa. Numerous Red Forest Duikers are found in the eastern coastal forests in KwaZulu-Natal and Umzumbe.

They prefer forests, dense bush, and riverine forests as habitats in mountainous and coastal areas. A nearby water source is a must for these animals.

Red Forest Duiker’s Behavior

A Red Forest Duiker is very territorial. It usually lives travels with a companion—an adult Red Forest Duiker or with a youngster. On rare occasions, it lives and travels alone.

They only form groups with more than three individuals when they are huddled around water sources like salt lakes. When two territorial male Red Forest Duikers come in contact, they will fight to protect their territories.

A Red Forest Duiker marks its territory through scent-marking. This technique occurs when a male Red Forest Duiker releases a substance from its maxillary glands near the eyes. After the secretion process, the Red Forest Duiker will rub its face on the grass, barks, twigs, and other surfaces to mark the boundaries of its territory. A dominant male will also do this technique to mark its female mate and calves.

Red Forest Duiker’s food habits

Red Forest Duikers feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits that have fallen from trees and shrubs. They usually hunt for food in the morning, although some prefer to hunt for food during nighttime.

Red Forest Duikers are deemed to be concentrated feeders since their stomachs cannot digest food well.

Common predators for a Red Forest Duiker

Due to its slender physique, a Red Forest Duiker makes an easy prey to large birds and land animals such as leopards, pythons, and eagles.

The moment a Red Forest Duiker realizes that a predator is present, it will freeze first, then it will dive into a thick bush to defend itself.