The Royal antelope is the smallest antelope in the world. It was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. A characteristic feature of these little antelopes is their long and slender legs. Their hind legs are twice as long as the forelegs which is a remarkable similarity to the hare. That's why local tribespeople call these antelopes “king of the hares”. Their soft coat is reddish to a golden brown, in sharp contrast with the white ventral parts. A brown band runs across the chest, and there is a distinct rufous collar on the neck. The chin and the medial surfaces of the legs are also white. The tail is white on the underside and has a white tuft on the tip. Only males have horns that are short and smooth. Females in this species are larger than males.
Royal antelopes are found in western Africa. Their range extends eastward from the Kounounkan Massif in southwestern Guinea through Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire to the Volta River in Ghana. These antelopes prefer areas with a fresh and dense growth of shrubs and other plants. They live in the warm, moist lowland forests, forest fringes, and secondary forests.
Royal antelopes are very shy and secretive animals. They live alone or in pairs on small territories which they mark with piles of dung. These small antelopes are mainly active during the night. They will immediately seek cover if alarmed and flee as soon as the danger is very close. They can move swiftly, either by sprinting fast with the body low to the ground or through strong leaps powered by the large, well-muscled hind legs. Royal antelopes can cover 2.8 meters (9.2 ft) in a single leap, and rise as high as 55 centimeters (22 in) above the ground.
Royal antelopes are monogamous and pairs most probably stay together for life. Females give birth to a single calf in November and December. A newborn calf weighs 0.8–1 kilogram and is similar to adults in coloration. Young are usually weaned at around 2 months of age and become reproductively mature when they are 6 months old.
The main threat to Royal antelopes is hunting for bushmeat. They also suffer from habitat deterioration and from expanding human settlements.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Royal antelopes is 62,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.