Yellow-backed duikers are forest-dwelling antelopes. They are the most widely distributed of all duikers. These animals have a convex body shape, standing taller at the rump than the shoulders. They have very short horns, which are cylindrical and ribbed at the base. An orange crest of hair can be found between their horns. Yellow-backed duikers get their name from the characteristic patch of yellow hairs on their rump, which stand when the duiker is alarmed or feels threatened. Females in this species are often slightly larger than males.
Yellow-backed duikers are found mainly in Central and Western Africa, ranging from Senegal to Western Uganda. Their range also extends southward into Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, and most of Zambia. These animals live in semi-deciduous forests, rain forests, riparian forests, and montane forests. However, they can be found in open bush, isolated forest islands, and clearings on the savanna as well.
Yellow-backed duikers are active at all times of the day and night. They live mainly solitarily or in couples. They usually rest during the midday near fallen trees, in dense vegetation, or between buttress roots. Yellow-backed duikers communicate with each other through scents secreted from their glands, grunts and shrill bleats. When feeling danger, they emit a shrill whistle, erect their dorsal crest, and flee. Duikers are very flighty and easily stressed, and when frightened or pursued will run almost blindly from a threat. Their convex body shape is well-suited for forest living. It allows for quick movement through thick forest and bush and is reflective of ungulates accustomed to diving quickly into the underbrush for cover. In fact, duiker is the Afrikaans word for "diver."
Little information is known about the mating system in this species. Yellow-backed duikers can breed throughout the year, with many breeding two times each year. Females give birth to 1 or sometimes 2 calves after a gestation period of 4-7 months. The calf remains hidden during the first week of life and is weaned at 3 to 5 months after birth. Males reach reproductive maturity at 12-18 months of age while females become reproductively mature when they are 9-12 months old.
Uncontrolled hunting for meat is the main threat to Yellow-backed duikers. They are the most heavily hunted species across forested West and Central Africa. These animals are not only a vital food source for people living close to their habitats but a vital source of income as well. Yellow-backed duikers also suffer from human encroachment on their forest habitats.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Yellow-backed duikers is 160,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their diet Yellow-backed duikers act as important seed-dispersing agents for various plants. They are also prey items for many carnivores.