Tag Archives: Common Duiker

Satara Summer 2021 – Mingling with Antelope

The Kruger National Park is home to 21 different kinds of antelope – more than any other protected area in our country. Along with zebras and warthogs they form the staple prey for the majority of the large predators in the Park.

The Satara area of the park, which we visited in December 2021, hosts the largest concentrations of Blue Wildebeest in Kruger. Most Wildebeest calves are born at this time of the year, when the summer rains bring a flush of green fodder for the lactating cows.

Bushbuck aren’t seen around Satara all that often; the veld is generally too open for their liking in this part of the Park and any sightings are likely to be along the stream courses where the riverine vegetation provides the cover and browse they need.

The S36 road linking Satara and Orpen to the picnic spots at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni is usually reliable for finding Common Duikers, and if you are lucky these shy little antelope may stand still for a second or two so you can take a picture.

It is a real pity that the Impala is so numerous in Kruger that most visitors seem to not even spare them a second glance. They are actually really athletic and beautiful antelope.

Joubert got these photographs of two impala rams sparring.

The birth of Impala lambs are timed to occur en masse at the end of November and into early December. The lambs congregate into a “creche” within the herd when they’re at rest, but can often be seen running and chasing each other around – seems they have boundless energy.

In the evening of the 31st of December, along the Sweni Road (S126), we encountered a huge herd of Impalas. They were on the move, relinquishing the open plain where they were feeding for denser bush in which to spend the night. We spent several minutes with the herd as they walked off until the whole plain was abandoned.

Owing to the general scarcity of suitable rocky habitats around Satara, our only Klipspringer sighting of the entire 3 weeks we spent in that part of the Kruger Park was at an outcrop to the south of Tshokwane.

Three Klipspringers near Tshokwane

The open, thorny savanna around Satara supports a high density of the magnificent Greater Kudu and they can easily be seen along any of the roads that radiate from the camp.

By contrast, the Nyala is rarely encountered in this part of the Park and while they’re sometimes seen along the course of the Nwaswitsontso River south of Satara we had to go north to the banks of the Olifants River this time around to see this impressive bull.

Nyala bull

The Steenbok is the small antelope seen most often around Satara – they find the open grasslands perfectly to their liking.

The less I say about the expression on these Steenbokkies’ faces after mating, the better probably…

The Tsessebe is one of the rarest antelope in the Kruger National Park, and is not found near Satara. We undertook a day’s outing north to the Mopani area of the Park specifically to go looking for them, and luckily did not return to Satara with nothing to show for our effort.

Another large antelope you would defnitely encounter when visiting Satara is the Waterbuck. They’re quite numerous along the courses of the Nwanetsi and Gudzani streams to the east of the camp.

Common Duiker

Sylvicapra grimmia

The Common, or Grey, Duiker is the largest and most widespread of the three duiker species occurring in South Africa. These small antelope stand between 45cm and 70cm high at the shoulder, and only the rams carry short horns, though on average the ewes, at between 16 and 25kg in weight, are about 2kg heavier.

Common duikers occur in all of South Africa’s natural habitats, and can even hold their own in intensively farmed area, and in and near towns and city suburbs. They are independent of water, and drink seldomly even where surface water is readily available. These duikers are mixed feeders, subsisting on leaves predominantly but also taking grass, bark, seeds, fruits, flowers, twigs, pods, fungus, roots and tubers. Unusually for antelope, they have been seen eating insects, small vertebrates like chicks and geckos, and carrion.

Grey duikers are mostly solitary, occurring in pairs when mating or when a ewe is accompanied by her lamb. Both sexes are territorial and mark their areas with dung-middens and secretions from facial scent glands, ram’s territories usually being larger and overlapping those of one or more ewes. These antelope are mostly nocturnal, active from dusk to dawn and sometimes all day under overcast conditions. By day, they seek cover in long grass or dense thickets. When threatened, they will first attempt to hide before fleeing with sidestepping moves along well defined pathways – thus giving rise to their name (“duiker” being Afrikaans for “diver”).

Single lambs, weighing less than 2kg, are born at any time of year (mostly in the rainy season) after a gestation of 190 days. Newborn lambs are hidden in dense vegetation. All Africa’s larger predators, from lions to owls, eagles and even baboons, will prey on common duikers, explaining why their life expectancy in the wild is only 8 to 12 years. Shine, a well-known and much loved resident at Kruger National Park’s Shimuwini Bushveld Camp lived to the ripe old age of 22 before falling prey to a leopard.

The common duiker is one of Africa’s most numerous antelope, and it is estimated that as many as 10-million occur across the continent. Some populations however are under considerable pressure from subsistence and commercial hunting. They are regularly seen in most of South Africa’s wild places and are a frequent nighttime sighting along country roads.

Grey Duiker (12)