Lesser kudu are forest antelopes found in East Africa. The females and juveniles have a reddish-brown coat, while the males become yellowish grey or darker after the age of 2 years. Males have a prominent black crest of hair on the neck. One long white stripe runs along the back, with 11-14 white stripes branching towards the sides. A black stripe runs from each eye to the nose and a white one from each eye to the center of the dark face. There is also a chevron between the eyes. The area around the lips is white, the throat has white patches, and two white spots appear on each side of the lower jaw. The underparts are completely white, while the slender legs are tawny and have black and white patches. Horns are present only on males and are dark brown and tipped with white in color.
Lesser kudu are native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. They inhabit dry, flat, and heavily forested regions, woodlands and hilly areas. These animals avoid open areas and long grass, preferring shaded areas with short grasses, instead.
Lesser kudu are mainly active at night and during the dawn, and seek shelter in dense thickets just after the sunrise. The midday is spent in rest and rumination in shaded areas. Lesser kudu are gregarious in nature. They are not territorial and fights between individuals are not common. However, when combats do occur, kudu fight by interlocking their horns and trying to push one another. One to three females, along with their offspring, may form a group. Juvenile males leave their mothers at the age of 1,5 years, and may form pairs. However, at the age of 4-5 years, males prefer a solitary lifestyle and avoid one another, though 4-5 bulls may share the same home range. Lesser kudu are shy and wary animals; they do not usually associate with other animals, except when they feed in the same area. When alarmed, they will stand motionless, confirming any danger. If kudu sense any approaching predator, they give out a short sharp bark and then make multiple leaps up to 2 m (6.6 ft) high with an upraised tail. If captured by the predator, they give a loud bleat.
Lesser kudu are herbivorous animals. They browse on foliage from bushes and trees (shoots, twigs) and herbs. These antelopes also eat flowers and fruits if available, and take small proportions of grasses, usually in the wet season.
Little is known about the mating system in Lesser kudu. They don't have a fixed breeding season and births may occur at any time of the year. The gestational period lasts around 7-8 months, after which a single calf is born. A female about to give birth leaves her group and remains alone for some days afterward. The newborn calf weighs 4-7.5 kg (8.8–16.5 lb). Around 50% of the calves die within the first 6 months of birth from disease and predation, and only 25% can survive after 3 years. The mother hides her calf while she goes out to feed, and returns mainly in the evening to suckle her young. She checks the calf's identity by sniffing its rump or neck. The mother and calf communicate with low bleats. Both males and females become reproductively mature by the time they are 1,5 years old. However, males actually mate after the age of 4 to 5 years.
The major threat to Lesser kudu is uncontrolled hunting by local people. Shyness and the ability of these antelopes to camouflage themselves in dense cover has protected them from the risks of poaching. Lesser kudu are also highly susceptible to the rinderpest outbreaks. Other threats to the survival of these antelopes include overgrazing, human settlement, and loss of habitat.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Lesser kudu is around 118,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.