Zebra duiker (Cephalophus zebra)

Zebra duiker, side view
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Zebra duiker fact file

Zebra duiker description

GenusCephalophus (1)

Named for the 12 to 15 black bands that, like a zebra, stretch down its back, the zebra duiker is a diminutive antelope with a short, stocky body. Its coat colour varies from light gold to a reddish-brown, with a pale cream underside. Another distinctive feature is the lack of a tuft on the forehead, which most other duiker species possess (4) (5). Both males and females grow short, tapering horns which are used to defend their territory (6), and although females are generally larger than the males, the male possesses longer horns (5). Juveniles appear slightly bluer in colouration than the adults and have closer stripes (7). The name ‘duiker’ is the Afrikaans word for ‘diver’ or ‘diving buck’ and refers to the flight of the antelope into the undergrowth when disturbed (5).

Also known as
Banded duiker, zebra antelope.
Céphalophe Zèbré.
Duiquero Cebrado.
Length: 85 – 90 cm (2)
9 – 20 kg (2)

Zebra duiker biology

The zebra duiker is found either alone or in a breeding pair. Paired duikers will often mutually rub each other’s scent glands, apparently to reinforce the pair bond and aid in sexual communication (4). A single calf is born once a year after a gestation period of between 221 and 229 days (9). Juveniles attain adult colouration and size at around seven to nine months, and males are known to reach sexual maturity at two years (7).

The diet of the this diurnal duiker consists primarily of fruit, alongside a variety of leaves, buds, shoots and grasses (7) (10). Often unable to reach fruit in the trees, the small zebra duiker instead takes advantage of fruit dropped onto the forest floor by other animals that feed in the trees (7).


Zebra duiker range

The zebra duiker is most common in eastern-central Liberia, although it also occurs throughout Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast (4).


Zebra duiker habitat

The zebra duiker appears to be largely dependent on lowland primary forest in river valleys, but it may also be found in secondary forest and in upland areas (1) (8).


Zebra duiker status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Zebra duiker threats

Whilst several other species of duiker are vulnerable to population decline as a result of over-hunting, this has not been found to be a significant threat to the zebra duiker (11), probably due to this elusive species being rarely seen by humans. The main threat to its survival, as with many other African species, is loss of habitat through deforestation. In 1999 the zebra duiker population was estimated at 28,000 and is noted to be steadily declining (1).


Zebra duiker conservation

The zebra duiker is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). Now largely restricted to patches of primary forest, the zebra duiker’s existence may depend on the continued preservation of these forests. Fortunately, some of these areas are protected, including Sapo National Park in Liberia and Tai National Park in the Ivory Coast (1).

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

Find out more

To learn about conservation in Liberia see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Active during the day.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Ultimate Ungulate (November, 2009)
  3. CITES (November, 2009)
  4. Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London.
  5. Wilson, V.J. (2001) Duikers of Africa. Chipangali Wildlife Trust, Zimbabwe.
  6. Ralls, K. (1976) Mammals in which females are larger than males. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 51(2): 245-276.
  7. Barnes, R., Greene, K., Holland, J. and Lamm, M. (2002) Management and husbandry of duikers at the Los Angeles Zoo. Zoo Biology, 21(2), 107-121.
  8. Newing, H. (2001) Bushmeat hunting and management: implications on duiker ecology and interspecific competition. Biodiversity and Conservation, 10(1): 99-108.
  9. Schweers, V. (1984) On the reproductive biology of the banded duiker Cephalophus zebra in comparison with other species of Cephalophus. International Journal of Mammalian Biology, 49: 21.
  10. Chew, E.A. and Gagnon, M. (2000) Dietary preferences in extant African bovidae. Journal of Mammalogy, 81(2): 490-511.
  11. Noss, A.J. (1998) The impacts of cable snare hunting on wildlife populations in the forests of the Central African Republic. Conservation Biology, 12(2): 390-398.

Image credit

Zebra duiker, side view  
Zebra duiker, side view

© Wardene Weisser / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
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United Kingdom
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