Common Duiker Fact File

Sylvicapra grimmia

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 8-11 years

Captive 14 years



Fruit, Flowers, Carrion

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The common duiker is a small antelope which is found across Africa. Their name, duiker, is taken from an Afrikaans word meaning 'to dive' and references their habit of diving for cover if threatened.

They are widespread across the African continent only being absent from areas of dense forest and desert.

These animals are omnivores. Their diet is primarily made up of plant matter such as fruit and flowers. Unusually for an antelope they will also feed on some carrion and insects.

While considered somewhat common across their range this species is still threatened by hunting mainly to supply the bushmeat trade.

Read on to learn more about these magnificent mammals.


What does the common duiker look like?

The common duiker has a tuft of fur on its forehead which in males sits between the two sharp, pointed horns which reach up to 11cm (4.25in) tall. These may be present on females in small areas of the range. Next to these sit two ears which stick up.

Across their body they are covered by grey or reddish-yellow fur. On the underside they are colored white. The nose is black with a dark stripe running from it up to the eye.

At the end of the body is a short tail which adds 7-19cm (2.75-7.5in) to their length.

An average common duiker will measure 0.7-1.2m (2.25-4ft) long with an average weight of 25kg (55lbs). At the shoulder they stand 0.5m (1.6ft) tall. Females tend to be slightly larger than males.


What does the common duiker eat?

These animals are omnivores. Their diet includes fruits, herbs, seeds, flowers, leaves, roots, small animals and carrion.

They have been recorded to dig up crops including potatoes and peanuts from fields.

In arid areas they obtain their moisture needs from wild melons. Most of their water requirements are taken from the food they consume.

Food which is higher up in trees can be reached by them standing up on their back legs.

Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the common duiker?

Africa is the native home of the common duiker. Here they can be found in the following countries - Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The species is considered to be possible extinct in Dijbouti.

They are considered one of the most widespread antelopes to be found in Africa.


What kind of environment does the common duiker live in?

These animals are found in forest, savanna, shrubland and grassland. The species is found in almost all areas except for dense rainforest or deserts.

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How does the common duiker produce its young?

Breeding can take place year round though a peak occurs in summer. Males may mate with multiple partners. Breeding habits vary across their range. In some areas they are considered monogamous.

A single young known as a lamb is born after a 6 month gestation period. On a rare occasion twins will be recorded. A female will hide among dense vegetation before giving birth.

With 24 hours of birth the lamb is able to move around. If the young is threatened it will make a bleat to alert the adults.

Sexual maturity is reached by 8 months old.


What does the common duiker do with its day?

These animals are nocturnal and emerge at night to feed.

This species is territorial. They will chase individuals of the same gender out of their habitat. Males and females tend to have overlapping ranges but only socialize when they mate.

Their territory is marked by scent produced from the preorbital glands and glands between the front hooves.

They are primarily solitary but are occasionally spotted moving in pairs.

Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the common duiker?

Natural predators of the common duiker include birds of prey such as eagles, cats such as leopards, lions, cheetahs, jackals, pythons and crocodiles.

If threatened by a predator they will quickly flee to cover. If cornered they will use their horns or sharp hooves to defend themselves. When pythons manage to capture them they may still die from the horns puncturing them during digestion.

Numbers of the common duiker are decreasing across their range. It is believed that most estimates of this species are below the truth due to their secretive number. One of the best proposed figures was around 1,660,000 individuals.

Their numbers are stable across parts of their range but most are decreasing.

They are facing hunting pressures across their range. This is primarily to supply the bushmeat trade.

Quick facts

Their name is taken from an Afrikaans word which means 'to dive.' This relates to the way this species will duck in to bushes if they are threatened.

They may also be known as the grey duiker or Grimm's duiker.

Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Cooper, A. 2000. "Sylvicapra grimmia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 23, 2021 at 2021. Common Duiker - African Mammals Guide. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2021]. 2021. Common Duiker - Mammals - South Africa. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2021].

African Wildlife Foundation. 2021. Duiker. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2021].

Kurt Safari. 2021. Common Duiker - Kurt Safari. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2021].

Fascinating Africa. 2021. Common duiker - Fascinating Africa. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2021].

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Sylvicapra grimmiaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21203A50194717. Downloaded on 24 November 2021.

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