Classification and Range
Red-flanked duikers are tiny antelopes, classified in the family Bovidae and the subfamily Cephalophinae. There are two genera in the subfamily: Sylvicapra, which contains only one duiker species, and Cephalophus, which includes all the approximately 20 remaining species.
Red-flanked duikers range from Senegal to southwestern Sudan and from northeastern Uganda south to Cameroon and northern Zaire.
Red-flanked duikers typically inhabit the margins of forests, but can also be found in areas with adequately dense cover, such as drainages with elephant grass or thick shrubbery.
Red-flanked duikers are among the smallest antelope species. Both sexes are the same size, 13.7-14.8 inches (34-37 cm) tall and 26.5-30.9 pounds (12-14 kg). Their bodies are approximately twice as long as their height.
Both sexes have backward-directed horns that are 2-3.5 inches (5-9 cm) long. They have blue-gray legs, a gray back, and orange-red sides and neck. Their faces have tiny white markings on the lower jaw, upper lip and ears, a black streak up the middle of the face and a tuft of black hair between their horns. They also have long, coarse neck hair they may ruffle as part of courtship or threat displays.
They can live 10-15 years in captivity. Life span in the wild is unknown.
In the wild: Red-flanked duikers eat fallen fruits, seeds, flowers, leaves and branches, fungi and seedlings or shoots, along with the occasional small bird or other animal. They sometimes scramble up vine-covered shrubs to reach particularly tasty treats.
At the zoo: Alfalfa, commercially prepared herbivore pellets, assorted fruits and vegetables as treats.
Red-flanked duikers reach sexual maturity at about 9 months old, at which time they begin the process of finding and bonding with a mate. Courtship includes a number of displays performed by the male, including lip-curling and diagonal sideways strutting. The pair also engages in long circular chases, mutual face rubbing, and grooming of each other's heads and shoulders. Although both participate, the male is almost always the initiator of mutual grooming.
The female red-flanked duiker's period of estrus is only one half to one day long. Once pregnant, the female carries her single calf for 32-35 weeks. The gestation period, combined with the time required to develop a relationship with a mate, results in most females having their first young at 2 years old. At birth, calves typically weigh between 1.5-2.5 pounds (0.68-1.13 kg). When not nursing, red-flanked duiker young engage in "lying out"behavior, where they lie silently hidden in the grass or brush away from their mother.
Red-flanked duikers are territorial, and normally live in pairs, pairs with one dependent youngster, or alone. The only times they form groups larger than three are at water sources, salt licks, or fruit falls that occur at territorial boundaries. Males are particularly territorial, and are combative with one another if they come into contact. Red-flanked duikers do a great deal of scent marking, using a substance secreted from the maxillary glands near their eyes. A duiker will rub its face on grass, twigs, bark or other surfaces to mark its territorial boundaries, or even on its mate or calf to ‘"label" the other animal. This species has deeper maxillary glands than any other duiker species, suggesting that marking behavior may be stronger in this shy and elusive species.
The red-flanked duiker enjoys an exceptionally useful body shape for its habitat and way of life. The duiker's body is wedge-shaped, with a narrow head and neck gradually widening to the hips. This helps the animal to plunge quickly through dense cover, splitting the brush like an axe might split a log. This body shape is so useful, in fact, that they have it in common not only with other, closely related duiker species, but also with numerous unrelated animals all over the world! This is a phenomenon called convergent evolution. Species as varied as tapirs in Indonesia and large rodents called capybaras in South America have evolved nearly identical wedge-shaped bodies because it makes survival more likely in dense, brushy habitats.
Location at the Zoo
Red-flanked duikers can be viewed in the Tropical Rain Forest near "lemur island." Other species that can be viewed in the Tropical Rain Forest include western lowland gorillas and red ruffed lemurs.
Although not presently endangered, the future of African lions is uncertain.** The growth in human population is the Red-flanked duikers, along with most other duiker species, are quite numerous, but rarely seen due to their shy habits. However, nine duiker species are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered. While red-flanked duikers are not considered threatened or endangered, they depend on healthy, non-fragmented habitat for survival. Their tropical rain forest home is under constant threat by human encroachment, putting them at risk of future endangered status. Agriculture and logging place significant pressure on all species that depend on the tropical rain forest, but red-flanked duikers face additional risks. The species is one of the primary targets of the bushmeat trade and is popular among trophy hunters. Both of these activities have had a significant negative impact on other species in the past.
How You Can Help!
The effort to save African mammals requires cooperation and support at the regional, national and international levels. You can help in this cause. Join and become active in a conservation organization of your choice. Don't buy products made from wild animal parts. Tell your elected representatives on the national, state and local levels about the importance of preserving wild habitats and endangered species.
Contact Woodland Park Zoo at email@example.com find out other ways you can support conservation programs at the zoo. Learn other ways you can help conserve wildlife and the habitats they require for survival by visiting our How You Can Help page.
Sources and Suggested Reading
Kingdon, Jonathon. 1982. East African Mammals, Vol. IIIC. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL. 393 p.
Walther, Fritz R. 1984. Communication and Expression in Hooved Mammals. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN. 423 p.
Greenaway, Theresa. 1994. Eyewitness: Jungle. Knopf Publications, New York NY. 64 p. Recommended for ages 9-12.