Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons)

Black-fronted duiker caught by poacher
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Black-fronted duiker fact file

Black-fronted duiker description

GenusCephalophus (1)

The black-fronted duiker is a sturdy and active antelope (3), named for the broad black streak that runs from the nose to its forehead (2), which distinguishes this species from the other duikers of Africa (4). Its glossy coat is a shade of red, chestnut, or dark red-brown (2) (4) (5), with the hair becoming thinner and darker, almost black, on the long legs (2) (5). The short tail is black with a white tip (4), and the hooves are exceptionally long and narrow, being well adapted to this species’ often marshy habitats (5). Both male and female black-fronted duikers have short, pointed horns (3), measuring between 4 and 12 centimetres (4), which are used in combat with other duikers and in defence against predators (3). The subspecies Cephalophus nigrifrons rubidus (the Ruwenzori black-fronted duiker), which is recognised by some as a distinct species, differs in appearance by having a white belly and thicker hair (4).

Head-body length: 80 – 170 cm (2)
Tail length: 7.5 – 15 cm (2)
14 – 18 kg (2)

Black-fronted duiker biology

Duikers are shy animals that move around alone or in pairs (3). Like other duikers, pairs of black-fronted duikers inhabit a territory that is marked with scented secretions from glands on the face (2). Active by both day and night (5), the duiker follows regular paths from its sleeping shelter to feeding grounds, where it consumes a variety of fruit and succulent vegetation (2) (5). Information on the life history of the black-fronted duiker is lacking, but an individual in captivity lived for nearly 20 years (3).


Black-fronted duiker range

The black-fronted duiker occurs in central Africa, from southern Cameroon to western Kenya and northern Angola (3) (5). The Ruwenzori black-fronted duiker occurs only in the Ruwenzori Mountains, a mountain range located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (4) (5).


Black-fronted duiker habitat

This small antelope is an inhabitant of montane, lowland, and swamp forests (2) (4) (5), from low altitudes up to 3,500 metres above sea level (2) (5), and is often found in marshy areas or close to rivers or streams (5).


Black-fronted duiker status

Classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1). Subspecies: Cephalophus nigrifrons rubidus (Ruwenzori black-fronted duiker) is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Black-fronted duiker threats

Like other duikers, the black-fronted duiker is being impacted by both hunting for food and habitat destruction (3) (4). As human populations in some parts of central Africa rapidly expand, duikers are increasingly hunted and suitable habitat is lost to human settlements and agriculture (1) (3).


Black-fronted duiker conservation

The black-fronted duiker occurs in numerous protected areas throughout its range, including Lake Lobeke Reserve, Cameroon; Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Ipassa Reserve, Congo (6), which will hopefully help protect this wary antelope from detrimental human activities.

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

Find out more

To find out more about the black-fronted duiker and the bushmeat trade see:

  • Wilson, V.J. (2005) Duikers of Africa: Masters of the African Forest Floor. Zimbi Books, Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Bushmeat Crisis Task Force:


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


A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
  2. Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Ltd, London.
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  4. Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. (1997) Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  5. Wilson, V.J. (2005) Duikers of Africa: Masters of the African Forest Floor. Zimbi Books, Pretoria, South Africa.
  6. East, R. (1988) Antelopes: Global Survey and Regional Action Plans. Part 3: West and Central Africa. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Image credit

Black-fronted duiker caught by poacher  
Black-fronted duiker caught by poacher

© Bruce Davidson /

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