A duiker is any one of 21 species of antelope belonging to the Cephalophus, Philatomba or Sylvicapra genera.
Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, duikers range in size from the tiny blue duiker at only 8lbs to the yellow-backed duiker at over 130lbs. They have short, glossy fur in a variety of colors and patterns depending on species. All male and some female duikers have simple conical horns.
The usual habitat for most species of duikers is dense rainforest. The duiker’s short legs and narrow snout make it ideally suited for navigating through dense underbrush. The common duiker has longer legs and is faster than other species’, but will readily dart into a thicket for cover when sensing a threat in its open savannah habitat. Most duikers are diurnal, but in areas with large human populations they can become nocturnal.
Living in a region that is home to so many large carnivores means that duikers have their fair share of predators. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, jackals, pythons, feral dogs and eagles all depend on the duiker as a food source. As such a highly-predated animal, the duiker has developed very shy and elusive tendencies. When a threat is detected duikers will crouch in heavily wooded areas making them difficult to spot or even access for large predators.
In addition to natural predators, duikers are prized for their meat and horns and therefore must contend with hunters as well. Overhunting has led some duiker species to become critically endangered.
Despite seemingly having the odds stacked against them, duikers have proven extremely adaptable and many species' continue to thrive. One example of this adaptability is the duiker’s wide-ranging diet. Though these animals prefer to forage for leaves, shoots and berries, they will hunt small birds and reptiles when necessary, even stealing eggs or eating carrion if it is available; somewhat unusual for an ungulate.
Duikers can live for up to 12 years in the wild.
Though shy around other animals, mated pairs will fiercely defend their territory against other duikers.