The Red Duiker is a small antelope found in indigenous forests and other densely vegetated habitats on the wetter eastern side of South Africa. Despite their richly coloured coats, these diminutive antelope blend in perfectly with their dappled forest habitat, where they feed mostly on leaves, shoots, fruits and berries.
Adult red duikers stand only between 35cm and 48cm at the shoulder, and weigh between 10 and 18kg. Both sexes carry short horns, often obscured by a tuft of hair on the crown.
Red duikers are mostly encountered alone or in pairs consisting of either a ram and ewe, or a ewe with her lamb. Single lambs are born at any time of year, weighing less than 1kg at birth. They are very shy and rush away quickly at the slightest indication of danger, unfortunately mostly along well-worn paths which makes them vulnerable to ambush predators like pythons and leopards, as well as poachers. Their natural life expectancy is 8 to 12 years.
Although the IUCN estimates that wild populations of the red duiker are declining, they are considered to be safe from extinction as the species finds protection in several well managed Parks and reserves. In our opinion the best place to get a glimpse of this beautiful little antelope is at Cape Vidal and Mission Rocks in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and at Umlalazi Nature Reserve, though we’ve also seen them at uMkhuze Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park, in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and at Ithala Game Reserve.