Grey duiker, Bush duiker, Grimm’s duiker, Savannah duiker
“Common” is a most apt description of this small antelope, as it enjoys the widest distribution of all of the African antelopes. It is also called the Bush duiker, Grey duiker, Savannah duiker or Grimm’s duiker. The name ‘grey duiker’ is because of its characteristic greyish color, but “bush“ is a misbelieve, as it does not live in forest or thickets but in grassland, savannah woodland, and karroid shrubland. Its name comes from the Afrikaans 'duiker' meaning 'to dive,' because of its habit of ducking into bushes when there is danger about. They can live without drinking water, and they eat leaves, fruit and seeds, and are one of very few antelope known to eat carrion and insects.
The Common duiker lives in Sub-Saharan Africa from Ethiopia to Senegal, as well as from Eastern Africa to the very bottom of the continent. They occur in savannas, woodlands and grasslands, as well as in mountainous regions, being found at higher elevations than any other of the African ungulates. They do not live in deserts or dense wooded areas like rainforests.
Habits and lifestyle
Common duikers are active early in the morning, in the evening, and at night. During the warm parts of the day, they stay bedded down in their resting locations. Females will rest near logs or tree trunks where they can be well hidden, while males rest in places that are more elevated where they can have a better view of the surrounding area. Males and females are both territorial. The territories of same sex animals have a small degree of overlap. There is a larger amount of overlap between that of opposite sex animals, a loose bond existing between the male and the female that share some territory. They mark their territories with scent from their preorbital gland and also by vegetation that has been horned by males. Females will chase and butt females that intrude into their territory. Males display threatening postures towards intruding males, including stalking and low-horn displays. If such behavior does not drive away intruding males, fights may occur, where males chase each other and stab with their horns. The animal that loses runs away or will lie down in submission.
herd, cluster, tribe
Diet and nutrition
Common duikers are omnivores, they typically eat the leaves and shoots of bushes, and fruits and flowers that feeding birds have dropped to the ground. They also dig up tubers and roots with their hooves. Common duikers may also eat insects and even lizards, frogs, rodents and nestling birds. Occasionally they may eat carrion.
These animals form monogamous breeding pairs. This means that one male mates and lives only with one female. No evidence for a peak breeding period has been found. Females are known to produce young at any time of the year, with gestation probably lasting 4-7 months. A female will seek out very secluded and thick cover for the birth. Normally one young is born, though sometimes there are two. Newborns are well developed when born and are able to run within a period of twenty-four hours. Both parents look after them. Young are weaned at 2 months of age and reach adult size in 6 months. Females attain reproductive maturity at 8-9 months and males at 12 months of age.
There do not seem to be any serious threats to the Common duiker. However, due to very intense hunting, there are localized declines.
The species is widespread and common across its large range. According to the IUCN Red List, the total Common duiker population size is around 1,660,000 individuals. Other research has suggested that the total population size of this species is approximately 10 million individuals. Currently Common duikers are classified as Least Concern (LC); however, their numbers today are decreasing.
Fun facts for kids
- In some African cultures, the Common duiker's horn is made into pendants that are believed to ward off evil spirits.
- The Common duiker’s call of alarm is a nasal snort. It bleats loudly when caught and this sound will attract other duikers.
- It is believed that 8 different races of the Common duiker exist. Their varied coloration may mean that they match their specific habitat.
- Male Common duikers have a pair of small horns and in some places it is typical for females to also have them.
- Common duikers will stand on their hind feet to get to fruit high in bushes.
- African rock pythons have been known to die by their stomachs being pierced by the male duiker's horns after swallowing them whole.
- Antelopes have scent glands for leaving marks of their presence. Duikers will press their face gland against each side of a duiker of the opposite sex in "mutual marking."