In the gorge — the blue duiker

2018-04-17 06:00
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We are extremely privileged to have a the very rare blue duiker as a resident of the Kloof area. These are one of three species of antelope found in the Krantzkloof Nature reserve, the others being bushbuck and the closely related but larger grey or common duiker. They can be found in scrubby bush tickets and forest edges but seldom in the forest itself.

It is the smallest of all antelopes in Central and Southern Africa. It is uniformly blue-grey in colour with a slightly paler shade on the underside. The tail has a splash of white which is noticeable when they flick the tails. Both sexes have very short sometimes only 2 cm, sharp and straight horns. In some females the horns are barely visible. They have a distinctive angular glandular slit beneath both eyes.

The blue duiker is monogamous, with pairs appearing to mate for life and living in a small territory, which is defended against other blue duikers and regularly scent-marked. They are most active at dawn and dusk but have been observed by camera traps to move occasionally at night. They are very often seen in pairs.

They are primarily herbivores eating leaves, flowers and fallen berries but are known to opportunistically eat bird’s eggs and insects. They are non-seasonal breeders, with a gestation period of about 210 days. Single fawns are born, weighing 400 grams. Young are hidden for the first few weeks after birth, and later driven from the parent’s territory when sexually matured at about 388 days.

Although they can survive in very small territories they are threatened by habitat loss or habitat fragmentation as a result of farming or housing developments in urban areas like the Upper Highway. They are preyed on by the African Crowned Eagles who are very efficient forest hunters.

— The Kloof Conservancy.

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