Natal duiker (Cephalophus natalensis)

Natal duiker
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Natal duiker fact file

Natal duiker description

GenusCephalophus (1)

This small, stocky antelope has an attractive chestnut-red coat that can, surprisingly, obscure its appearance in the dappled light of the forest. Both male and female Natal duikers have short, straight, backward-sloping horns, hidden amongst a tuft of long and bushy chestnut-black hair (3) (4).  The horns of the male are around twice the length of those of the female (4). The margins of the ears, chin, throat and underside of the tail are white, while the upperside of the tail, ears and muzzle are black (2) (4). The neck turns blue-grey with age (3) and in front of each eye sits a conspicuous long, thin scent gland (3) (4).

Also known as
Natal red duiker, red duiker, red forest duiker.
Head-body length: 75 - 87 cm (2)
Tail length: 9 - 14 cm (2)
12 - 14 kg (2)

Natal duiker biology

Like other duikers, (from a word meaning ‘diver’) (5), the Natal duiker is a shy animal that dives into cover at the slightest disturbance (3). Generally the Natal duiker is seen on its own, but occasionally a pair or a female with her offspring may be observed. When Natal duikers do meet, they greet each other by rubbing their facial scent glands together; these scent glands are also used to mark branches, twigs and tree trunks within their range. Only occasionally may a meeting between duikers escalate in to a fight, when the small, sharp horns can be used to inflict considerable wounds (3).

Natal duikers consume a diet of flowers, foliage and fruit that has recently fallen from trees (2) (3). Often, duikers have been seen under trees where troops of monkeys are feeding, taking advantage of the plentiful, carelessly dropped fruit (3). While in most areas, foraging for this food is undertaken during daylight hours, in highly disturbed areas the Natal duiker may become nocturnal (2). Females give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of about 210 days (3).


Natal duiker range

Occurs along the eastern coast of Africa, including in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia (1) (3) (4).


Natal duiker habitat

The Natal duiker inhabits coastal forests, montane forests and dense thickets. It appears that a wide range of trees that flower and fruit throughout the year are essential features of the duiker’s habitat (2).


Natal duiker status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Natal duiker threats

The Natal duiker is the subject of intensive hunting and trapping for the bushmeat trade over much of its range (2); in Tanzanian forests it is one of the most frequently hunted species (6). In addition, the exploitation of extensive areas of forest throughout its range for commercial forestry, settlement and agriculture, has reduced the amount of suitable habitat available for the Natal duiker (2) (3). While this little antelope remains widespread, and is common in many areas (2), these threats have caused its disappearance from some areas, such as the coastal areas of South Africa, south of Durban (3).


Natal duiker conservation

The Natal duiker occurs in a number of protected areas, including the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa and Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania; both Natural World Heritage Sites (7) (8). In some areas in southern Africa, the Natal duiker has been reintroduced to some of its former range (3). Otherwise, there are no specific conservation measures known to be in place for this duiker. The threats it faces, bushmeat hunting and habitat loss, are complex issues that need to be addressed with a diversity of approaches if the numerous species affected are to survive.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the bushmeat trade, the problems and the solutions, see:



Authenticated (13/05/09) by Karl R. Kranz, Executive Vice President for Animal Programs and Chief Operating Officer, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.


The meat derived from wildlife of African forests, or ‘bush’.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Active at night.


  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2009)
  2. Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
  3. Mills, G. and Hes, L. (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  4. Wilson, V.J. (2005) Duikers of Africa: Masters of the African Forest Floor. Zimbi Books, Pretoria, South Africa.
  5. Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. (1997) Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  6. Burgess, N.D. and Clarke, G.P. (2000) Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  7. UNEP-WCMC: Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (January, 2008)
  8. UNEP-WCMC: Kilimanjaro National Park (January, 2008)

Image credit

Natal duiker  
Natal duiker

© Peter Chadwick

Peter Chadwick
P.O.Box 565
Bredarsdorp 7280
South Africa
Tel: +27 (82) 373 4190


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