Just how small is South Africa’s smallest antelope?
There’s a rustle in the bushes. At first glance, it appears to be nothing. Maybe the wind? But nestled in the grass is a minute animal. Ears pricked, the greyish critter stiffens before darting off into the rolling landscape. The blue duiker is South Africa’s smallest antelope species, and despite its elusive nature, you might encounter the creature right in your backyard.
At birth, blue duikers weigh about 400 grams. They grow to just under five kilograms, reaching around 40 centimetres in height. The species inhabit indigenous forests in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. But they’ve been spotted near residential areas, eating fruit, flowers, and the occasional bird egg. At Pigeon Valley in Durban, the monogamous animals often stroll about in pairs. The territorial duos use scent glands under their eyes to mark their space.
Classified as rare by the South African Red Data Book, the blue duiker is threatened by habitat loss and hunting. As a result, a number of these animals end up in rehabilitation centres such as CROW in KwaZulu-Natal. But leafy snacks and a place to call home are all a blue duiker needs. So if you happen to see one in a bush near you, it’s best to let them scurry off in peace.