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Bovids IV: Dikdiks, Beiras, Grysboks, and Steenboks (Neotraginae)

Bovids IV: Dikdiks, beiras, grysboks, and steenboks

(Neotraginae)

Class Mammalia

Order Artiodactyla

Suborder Ruminantia

Family Bovidae

Subfamily Neotraginae


Thumbnail description
Small graceful antelopes, females typically larger than males; simple spike horns in males only; well-developed scent glands for olfactory communication; primarily selective browsers

Size
Body length 16–42 in (40–112 cm); shoulder height 10–26 in (25–67 cm); 3.9–48 lb (1.8–22 kg)

Number of genera, species
6 genera; 13 species

Habitat
Forest, woodland, mixed woodland, savanna, scrub, sub-desert, reed beds, hilltops, and flood plains

Conservation status
Vulnerable: 2 species; Lower Risk/Near Threatened: 2 species; Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent: 5 species; Lower Risk/Least Concern: 4 species

Distribution
Sub-Saharan Africa

Evolution and systematics

The Neotragines, or dwarf antelopes, are placed beside the Antilopini, both belonging to the subfamily Antilopinae. This sister group Antilopini includes the larger gazelles that serve as popular icons of Africa's savanna ecosystems. The neotragines are a polyphyletic group, and more recent molecular-based phylogenies suggest that some members may belong to the Antilopini or even Reduncini. The neotragines are considered to have originated in Eurasia and represent, with the Bovinae, one of the oldest subfamilies of the Bovidae. Fossil evidence suggests that the first neotragines appeared 5–12 million years ago and very closely resembled the animals observed today. The modern Neotraginae is represented by 13 species from six genera.

Physical characteristics

The neotragines are the smallest of the antelope. They range in body shape from crouched and hare-like, to compact and stocky, and to lean and graceful. They weigh 3.9–48 lb (1.8–22 kg) and range in height from 10 to 26 in (25–67 cm). Females are 5–15% larger than males, but this sexual dimorphism does not extend to coloration. Body color varies from pale gray to dark reddish brown to sandy, and the belly is white or cream. Ears are medium to large and often have distinctive markings in their white lining that allows individual identification of animals. Tails are medium to short. Only males possess horns and these are dagger-like, straight, and sharp. Hooves, horns, and eyes are black. The dwarf antelope is characterized by a prevalence of scent glands, most notably the pre-orbital gland, but also pedal, inguinal, and others.

Distribution

The Neotraginae occur widely across Africa and nowhere else. At least one member of this group can be found in every African country south of the Sahara Desert. Areas of highest density include the Horn of Africa and the equatorial forests, but large populations occur across a diverse array of regions

and biotic zones. The historic, or Paleolithic, distribution of this subfamily includes North Africa and perhaps beyond, but today no natural population occurs further north than Mauritania.

Habitat

The neotragines have adapted to a broad range of habitats. For example, the dikdiks (Madoqua sp.) primarily occur in dry scrub or thorn-brush habitats, while the tiny royal and dwarf antelopes (Neotragus pygmeus and N. batesi) occupy lush undergrowth in equatorial forests. Several species are desert-adapted and require little or no water. Even a single, widely distributed species like the oribi (Ourebia ourebi) thrives in more than nine distinct habitat types, from sub-desert scrub to lush coastal savanna and forest clearings. With regard to habitat selection, the klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) is unique among the Neotraginae in that it has adapted to life on rocky hilltops and mountain slopes. In all of these habitats, animals require access to some form of cover for both hiding from predators and avoiding the often brutal midday sun.

Behavior

Most neotragines are solitary, but some are found more often in pairs or small groups of three to five animals (up to 12.)

All are nonmigratory and nearly all are territorial or defend exclusive home ranges. Defense of a territory often, but not always, involves scent marking with feces and urine placed on conspicuous dung middens, as well as the careful placement of secretions of the preorbital and other glands. Scent marking can occupy more time than feeding in the life of many neotragines and some species mark as many as 45 times per hour. Males commonly engage in battles over territory ownership, dominance, and females, but these fights only rarely involve contact between the combatants and instead are built around threats. Threats are signaled through postures, vocalizations, and also with aggression towards inanimate objects such as bushes. Fights that escalate to contact between males commonly result in the wounding of one or both combatants.

The neotragines are best known for their reliance on olfactory communication, but they also display a range of vocalizations. The most commonly encountered of these is the alarm whistle. This shrill whistle varies in structure and tone but some form of it is used by most species in this group to alert conspecifics (those of the same species) to the presence of a potential threat. Other vocalizations include barks, bleats,

mews, and at least two species have been observed to emit a strangely human-sounding scream on being captured.

Daily activity patterns are linked closely to environmental conditions. In hot, dry climates or during the dry season in variable environments, animals are crepuscular and nocturnal. Avoiding the midday heat is essential to maintaining water balance, and animals in extreme environments will seek out cooler, shaded areas and remain inactive for hours. In more temperate areas, animals are active at various times both day and night.

Feeding ecology and diet

Nearly all neotragines browse selectively on high-protein, low-fiber portions of a huge range of bushes, herbs, and trees. This includes, but is not limited to, fresh shoots, leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, fungi, and fruits. Frequent consumption of grasses is rarely seen in this group except in the oribi for which green grasses comprise 60–95% of the diet. Several species have been observed to eat soil and chew on bones, presumably to ingest minerals that are otherwise in short supply. Animals also are known to occasionally eat nestlings or other sources of animal protein when encountered opportunistically.

Foraging occurs at any time of day or night, depending on weather conditions and proximity of potential threats. Species in this group also spend a great deal of their time lying down and ruminating. Most species are extremely efficient at maintaining water balance and require little or no access to open water.

Reproductive biology

Several members of this group are monogamous while others are polygamous. Monagamy has been confirmed in some of these species using molecular techniques. At least one species, the oribi, displays polygyandry in parts of its range. These polygyandrous associations are rare among bovids and are characterized in oribi by the cooperative defense of a harem and territory by two to four adult males.

Courtship in the neotragines typically begins when a female approaches or reaches estrus at which time the male begins to guard her closely. The male conveys his desire to mount through bleats and mews and with repeated pats on the female's hind legs ("laufschlag"). Mounting lasts a short time (5–20 seconds) and is repeated several times during estrous. One young is born after a gestation of five to seven months, after which it is hidden in tall grass or thicket for two to 16 weeks. Breeding typically coincides with rainy seasons, when lactating mothers and developing young will have greatest access to food of high quality. Males do not participate in parental care beyond whistling to alert group members to danger or, very rarely, butting potential predators of young such as hawks and eagles.

Conservation status

Overall, the Neotraginae are a widespread and common group. Members of this group such as the Kirk's dikdik (Madoqua kirkii) occur at densities beyond that of any other antelope. Contrary to expectation, some species have increased locally as a result of human alterations of the habitat such as forest clearing and livestock grazing. However, all members of this group are heavily hunted and decline in areas where human densities are high. The healthiest populations and thus, species, are those that occur in protected areas or where human densities are low. The small and shrinking distribution of the beira (Dorcatragus megalotis), silver dikdik (Madoqua piacentinii), Cape grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis), and the royal and dwarf antelopes make these species the greatest concerns for conservation among the Neotraginae.

Total population estimates range from the tens of thousand for five species to the high hundreds of thousands for the Kirk's dikdik. Of the 13 species in this group, populations of only two are estimated to be stable. Primary causes for decline across all species in this group are overhunting and habitat loss or degradation resulting from agriculture and overgrazing of livestock. Together, these factors are rapidly reducing the once contiguous distributions of many of these species into a collection of fragments.

Significance to humans

The neotragines are widely represented in traditional and modern African folklore and literature. Many of the species in this group represent the only wild mammals seen routinely by Africans near areas of human settlements. As such, they have great cultural significance by representing a tangible link to nature. These species are relied upon for food and combined they account for a substantial proportion of the trade in bush meat. They are used in traditional ceremonies and for clothing, musical instruments, and other craftwork. Some species represent a minor pest to agriculture, but in most cases the economic benefits of their presence far outweighs the costs.

Species accounts

List of Species

Oribi
Steenbok
Klipspringer
Dwarf antelope
Kirk's dikdik
Salt's dikdik

Oribi

Ourebia ourebi

taxonomy

Antilope ourebi (Zimmermann, 1783), Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Thirteen proposed subspecies.

other common names

French: Ourébie; German: Bleichbockchen; Spanish: Oribi.

physical characteristics

Slender, small antelope; males have distinctively large glands beneath the eyes. Length 37–44 in (93–111 cm); height 24–27 in (60–69 cm); weight 33–46 lb (15–21 kg). Pelage sandy to rufous with white undersides, throat, chin, mouth, eyebrows, and ear linings. Eyes large and black. Tail often darker than body with white underside. Horns on males straight, sharp, and annulated, grow to 7.5 in (19 cm) and angle slightly to the anterior.

distribution

Most widespread member of the Neotraginae, it is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa on fire-climax grasslands and mixed savannas.

habitat

Highly variable, but this species generally occurs in open habitats ranging from guinea savanna, moist savannas, woodland mosaics, flood plains, to montane and coastal grasslands. Densities in optimal habitat recorded at up to 91 per mi2 (35 per

km2), but more typically 1–10 per mi2 (0.5–4 per km2) in suitable habitats.

behavior

Behaviorally flexible, this antelope is adapted to a range of environmental conditions and behavior is linked to local conditions. Males defend females and territories cooperatively in some areas and simply follow a single female throughout her home range in other areas. Scent marking with urine, feces, and glandular secretions is used to demarcate territory borders where territories are defended. Primary vocalization is a shrill whistle used to alert group members to approaching danger. Other vocalizations include bleats, mews, and, upon capture, human-like screams.

feeding ecology and diet

The only predominately grazing member of the Neotraginae. Selective grazer of fresh green grasses; forbs, legumes, and tree foliage are eaten when fresh grass is unavailable. Fungi, flowers, and fruit are often eaten, as is soil, for their nutrient content. Feed actively at day and night, but generally avoid heat of midday and are most active during cool hours of early morning and late afternoon. Survive in some areas with little access to open water.

reproductive biology

Polygamous. Group size is highly variable and ranges from solitary animals to groups of up to 12 adults. Territories range in size from 0.25–148 ac (0.1–60 ha). Pair bonds may last years. One young is born after a gestation period of 6.5–7 months. Young hide in tall vegetation for up to three months before joining group. Birth peaks coincide with the arrival of rainy seasons.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. Two putative subspecies, O. o. haggardi, of coastal Kenya and Somalia, and O. o. keniae, of the Mount Kenya region are classified as Vulnerable and Extinct, respectively. Total population of this species is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. It is shot, snared, and trapped throughout its distribution and hunting is the primary reason for dramatic population declines in human-dominated areas. Like other neotragines, oribi have poor stamina and are easily run down by domestic dogs.

significance to humans

This animal is prized for its meat in many regions and provides subsistence and income for hunters in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The skin is used for drums and other traditional craftwork.


Steenbok

Raphicerus campestris

taxonomy

Raphicerus campestris campestris (Thunberg, 1811), Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Seven proposed subspecies.

other common names

English: Steenbuck, steinbuck, steinbok; French: Steenbok; German: Steinbockchen; Spanish: Steenbok.

physical characteristics

Slender, graceful antelope, third largest of the neotragines but still only 18–24 in (45–60 cm) tall, 28–35 in length (70–90 cm), and weighing 18–33 lb (8–15 kg). Body color ranges from light beige to reddish brown; belly, chest, chin, and ear-linings are white to off-white. Large ears and short tail; horns are sharp, thin, and upright in males, up to 6 in (15 cm) in length.

distribution

Displays two distinct distributions, with the first in East Africa in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, and the second in southern Africa from Angola and Zambia south to the Cape of South Africa. The largest populations today occur in Namibia and Botswana.

habitat

Varies from desert scrub habitats near the Kalahari to moist mountain forests in Kenya. Generally occurs in bushy or scrubby areas of open habitats such as dry mixed savannas and grassland plains. Areas cleared by fire, heavy grazing, logging, or for cultivation are quickly occupied. Densities in optimal habitats are as high as 10 animals per mi2 (4 perkm2), but more typical densities are 1–2 per mi2 (0.3–1.0 per km2).

behavior

Highly territorial, both sexes actively defend the territory by chasing same-sex intruders and by scent marking with urine, feces, and secretions of the pre-orbital, pedal, and other glands. Vocalizations between individuals include goat-like bleats, whistles, and growls. Typically drops to the ground and freezes as a first response to approaching danger and flees in a zig-zag pattern if the threat moves near.

feeding ecology and diet

Primarily a browser, it will often feed near ground level on roots and low shrubs, but also shoots, flowers, and fruits of trees; commonly eats soil for its nutrient content. Desert-adapted, it can survive with little or no access to open water. Water balance is maintained by selection of plants of high water content and inactivity during hottest times of the day. Animals are active in day and night in wetter habitats and are most active nocturnally in very dry areas.

reproductive biology

Adults are solitary or occur as pairs, and rarely as small, polygynous groups, on territories of 10–37 acres (4–15 ha). Breeding pairs are sometimes stable for several years. Mating is followed by gestation of about 170 days, at which time one lamb is born. Young lay hidden for three to five months before joining their mother. Birth commonly coincides with rainy seasons. Females in some areas have been observed to breed twice per year.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Least Concern. Declining in unprotected parts of its range where it suffers from overhunting, but it is stable and well represented in protected areas. Overall, the outlook for the species appears good if protected areas remain intact. Like other neotragines, this species is vulnerable to predation by domestic dogs.

significance to humans

Included in traditional African folklore, skin used for drums, traditional clothing, and crafts. Meat is considered to be of good quality by humans; this species is eaten throughout its range.


Klipspringer

Oreotragus oreotragus

taxonomy

Antilope oreotragus (Zimmermann, 1783), Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Eleven proposed subspecies.

other common names

French: Oreotrague; German: Klippspringer.

physical characteristics

Small, compact antelope with rounded hindquarters and blunt muzzle. Walks on tips of extended hooves. Length 32–39 in (82–100 cm); height 18–24 in (45–60 cm); weight 20–35 lb (9–16 kg). Fur is coarse, hollow, and tawny to gray in appearance. Underside and ear linings light gray to white. Horns straight and annulated in males, up to 6 in (15 cm) in length, though typically no longer than 3.5 in (9 cm). Unique among Neotraginae, females of some populations are horned.

distribution

Patchily distributed in rocky and mountainous terrain from northern Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, south through Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania into central and southern Africa. The largest populations today occur in Namibia.

habitat

Rocky hillsides, cliffs, and ravines from sea level to 14,800 ft (4,500 m) and at a broad range of temperature and rainfall regimes. Vegetation type is considerably less important than access to steep, rocky slopes for escape and cover. Occur at densities up to 36 per mi2 (14 per km2) in ideal habitats, but more often seen at densities of 0.3–0.8 per mi2 (0.1–0.3 per km2).

behavior

Nimble and fast, supremely adapted for life in rocky terrain. Fiercely territorial, territory boundaries are scent marked routinely by all family members by placing feces, urine, and preorbital gland secretions in highly visible areas. Physical aggression exhibited as fights and chases are common and occur between both sexes. Bonds between monogamous pairs are strong and often last years. Vigilance is shared among group members and they signal the approach of a predator with an alarm whistle.

feeding ecology and diet

Selective browsers, prefer leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds with high-protein, low-fiber content. Up to 90% of diet consists of fruit and flowers in wet season, while leaves of shrubs, trees, and sometimes grasses form larger portion of diet in dry seasons. Will leave the safety of rocky terrain to feed or drink during harshest times of the year.

reproductive biology

The typical breeding group is a male-female pair on a territory 3.5–22 acres (1.4–9 ha) in size. Monagamous pairs are sometimes joined in a territory by one or two un-dispersed offspring. Estrus is thought to last roughly one week and gestation is estimated at five months, after which one lamb is born. Newborns lay hidden for up to three months before joining parents and are weaned at four months. Seasonality of reproduction varies across the broad geographic range of this species, but is generally coordinated with rainy seasons.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. Their preference for steep, rocky habitats and their ability to detect and avoid predators (human or otherwise) has allowed this species to avoid the common pitfalls of habitat loss and over hunting. However, the subspecies O. o. porteousi represents an exception and is classed as Endangered where it occurs in Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Predictable routes of travel by animals also makes snaring an effective and potentially devastating form of hunting.

significance to humans

Sturdiness and agility have made it a popular mascot and hero in traditional and modern African folklore. It has little economic value through much of its geographic range and its meat is not generally preferred. It comprises a relatively small part of the bushmeat trade in Nigeria.


Dwarf antelope

Neotragus batesi

taxonomy

Neotragus batesi de Winton, 1903, Efulen, Bulu Country, Cameroon. Two recognized subspecies.

other common names

English: Bate's pygmy antelope, Bate's dwarf antelope, pygmy antelope; French: Antilope de Bates; German: Batesbockchen; Spanish: Antílope de Bates.

physical characteristics

Tiny, delicate antelope with large eyes, small, rounded ears, and short, pointed muzzle. Length 19–23 in (47–58 cm); height 7.5–11.5 in (19–29 cm); weight 4–10 lb (1.8–4.5 kg). Body is reddish to golden-brown, darker on back and head; belly, throat, and chin and spots below ears are white, as is underside of tail. Horns on males short and conical.

distribution

Patchily distributed in two distinct regions, the first in western Africa from Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon to Central African Republic and Congo (Brazzaville), and the second in central Africa from eastern Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to western Uganda.

habitat

Tree gaps or areas of heavy undergrowth in moist lowland forests. Includes dense habitats along rivers, roads, plantations, gardens, and in secondary growth following logging. Occur at densities up to 194 per mi2 (75 per km2) in ideal habitats, but more often seen at densities of 4–8 per mi2 (1.5–3 per km2).

behavior

Cryptic and shy, this antelope is adapted to life in closed habitats. Has a slow, high-stepping gait when moving through the forest, responds to danger by freezing and then darting for cover if the threat approaches closely. Quick for short distances, but lacks stamina to outlast predators if caught in larger clearings. Males mark territories with black, tar-like secretions of the pre-orbital gland. Short, nasal moans are used to maintain contact between individuals, and they sometimes bark when fleeing from danger.

feeding ecology and diet

Selective browsers of high-quality leaves, stems, and shoots from a vast number of food plants. Crops such as sweet potatoes, peanuts, and peppers are also consumed, as are fruits. Foraging occurs both day and night in remote locations and more often only at night in areas near human habitation.

reproductive biology

Males form exclusive home ranges of 5–10 acres (2–4 ha). Reproduction occurs year round but with two peaks coinciding with the arrival of rainy seasons. As many as 80% of breedingage females are pregnant at any given time. Young are hidden for months and weaning typically occurs during the rainy season.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Near Threatened. This antelope's ability to use and sometimes thrive in human-dominated habitats has enabled it to survive in areas where other mammals cannot. However, heavy hunting and the loss of forest habitat present major threats. It is captured in nets and snares by hunting parties and also taken by dogs in areas near human settlements.

significance to humans

Linked to folklore and taboos in some areas of its distribution, which has helped protect it from over-harvest in these regions. Accounts for only a small percentage of animals sold as bush meat in western Africa, but has considerable subsistence value for communities living in and near forests. Skin is used for traditional crafts.


Kirk's dikdik

Madoqua kirkii

taxonomy

Neotragus kirkii (Günther, 1880), Brava, Somalia. Seven proposed subspecies.

other common names

English: Damaraland dikdik; French: Dik-dik de Kirk; German: Kirkdikdik; Spanish: Dik-dik de Kirk.

physical characteristics

Small, very slender antelope with distinctive soft, elongated nose. Length 22.5–29.5 in (57–75 cm); height 14–18 in (35–45 cm); weight 6–14 lb (2.7–6.5 kg). Fur on back is grizzled gray with black and white flecks, face and legs are tan, and the chin, belly, and underside of small tail are white to off-white. Crest of fur on head is dark yellow-orange, as are face and legs. Ears large and lined with white fur; large eyes bordered by ring of short white fur. Males with prominent glands beneath the eyes; horns on males sharp, straight, and annulated, growing to 4 in (10 cm).

distribution

Found patchily in two distinct areas separated by more than 1,000 mi (1,600 km); the first in Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia, the second in Angola and Namibia. Largest populations in Namibia.

habitat

Restricted to arid regions of dense scrub and mixed woodland habitats. Thickets and thorn scrub are used for cover and food. Also found in riverine woodlands and thickets, along the base of hills and rocky outcroppings. Densities in optimal habitat recorded at up to 282 per mi2 (109 per km2), but more typically 26–104 per mi2 (10–40 per km2) in suitable habitat.

behavior

Pairs defend territories cooperatively by chasing same-sex intruders. Territory borders observed to be stable for years in some areas. Territory holders use urine, dung, and secretions from pre-orbital and other glands to mark territory boundaries. Fights common between males along shared borders but seldom involve actual contact between combatants. During fights, males butt vegetation and raise the hair tuft on their heads. Has six known vocalizations, including a shrill double whistle alarm call, and bleats, mews, and screams.

feeding ecology and diet

Browses selectively on a broad array of herbs, leaves, flowers, shoots, and fruits; grasses only rarely eaten. Feeds actively at day and night, though generally avoids heat of midday. Often rises onto two legs to reach foods otherwise out of reach. Visits saltlicks and consumes soil and bones to acquire needed minerals. They are renowned for their ability to survive with no access to open water.

reproductive biology

Typical breeding unit is a monogamous pair sometimes joined by one or two young on territories of 3–25 acres (1–10 ha). Pair bonds known to last till the death of one member; genetic studies confirm fidelity of females to their mate. Polygynous groups occasionally occur where animal densities are high. Estrus is thought to last only one to two days. One young is born after a gestation period 166–174 days. Young are precocious and join parents after five or six weeks of hiding in dense vegetation. Birth peaks coincide with the arrival of rainy seasons.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Least Concern. Total population is estimated from hundreds of thousands to one to two million. This animal has declined in some areas as a result of land development for agriculture and hunting but is generally widespread and common. Hunted primarily with nets and snares and occasionally guns and dogs.

significance to humans

The high population densities make it a common item in bushmeat markets. It is a common source of meat for sustenance and commerce throughout its distribution.


Salt's dikdik

Madoqua saltiana

taxonomy

Antilope saltiana (Desmarest, 1816), Ethiopia. As many as six proposed subspecies.

other common names

French: Dik-dik de Salt; German: Eritrea-Dikdik; Spanish: Dik-dik de Salt.

physical characteristics

Small, delicate antelope, with short, blunt muzzle. Length 19–24 in (49–60 cm); height 13–16 in (33–40 cm); weight 5.5–9 lb (2.5–4 kg). Fur on back is grayish brown and freckled, shading into a pale orange on sides and legs. Belly, interior of legs, underside of tail, and chin are white. Ears large and lined with white fur. Longer fur on head is reddish brown; conspicuous white ring around the eye. Horns on males up to 3.5 in (9 cm) and straight.

distribution

Restricted to arid bushlands and semi-desert scrub in Horn of Africa south from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia to northern Kenya. Occurs from sea level up to 5,000 ft (1,500m). Largest populations in Somalia and Ethiopia.

habitat

From evergreen bushlands to sub-desert scrub habitats, often found on valley bottoms and hillsides. Suggested densities in optimal habitat up to 36 per mi2 (14 per km2), but more typically 5–10 per mi2 (2–4 per km2).

behavior

Families share territorial defense and all members use urine and dung to mark territory boundaries. Subordinate males and females mark dominant males with pre-orbital secretions in what is thought to be submissive behavior. Erection of crest of fur on head thought to be display of dominance by males and is often associated with a high-stepping strut and flashing of orange fur along limbs and flanks. Vocalizations include a double whistle used to warn other group members of approaching danger.

feeding ecology and diet

Browses on herbs, leaves, shoots, fruits, and roots often close to ground. Feeding occurs primarily at night and during early morning and late afternoon hours. Generally able to survive without access to open water.

reproductive biology

Typically occurs as monogamous pairs or family groups of pairs with one or two young on territories of 10–50 acres (4–20 ha). Breeding pairs are likely stable over long periods. One young born after a gestation period estimated at five or six months. Weaning thought to occur at three to four months.

conservation status

Lower Risk/Least Concern. Despite its restricted distribution, the global population is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. However, this animal is vulnerable to over-hunting, habitat alteration, and competition with domestic livestock. Numbers have declined in areas of high human settlement. Hunted with nets and snares.

significance to humans

Little is known about cultural significance of this species. Contributes to subsistence hunting throughout its range. Other economic significance is small.

Common name / Scientific name/Other common names Physical characteristics Habitat and behavior Distribution Diet Conservation status
Guenther's dikdik Madoqua guentheri English: Guenther's long-snouted dikdik; French: Dik-Dik de Guenther; German: Günther Dikdik; Spanish: Dikdik de GuntherSmall and slender with extended, elastic nose. Coat grizzled gray mixed with brown, yellow, and white, with white undersides and red-orange crest of fur on head. Males with sharp, annulated horns up to 4.5 in. (9.8 cm), slanted backwards. Length 22–26 in (55–65 cm); height 14–18 in (35–45 cm); weight 8–12 lb (3.5–5.5 kg).Dry brush and scrub habitats where thickets provide food and cover. Territorial, occurs in monogamous pairsor singly.Locally common in parts of Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya.Primarily a browser of green leaves, buds, and shoots.Lower Risk/Least Concern
Silver dikdik Madoqua piacentinii French: Dik-Dik d'argent; German: Piacentini Dikdik; Spanish: Dikdik de argentadoSmallest dikdik, with short, blunt muzzle. Back and sides grizzled silver with sandy-tan legs, undersides and crest. Males with short, sharp horns up to 3 in. (7 cm), slanted backwards. Length 17–20 in (45–52 cm); height 12–14 in (30–35 cm); weight 6–9 lb (2.5–4 kg).Low, dense coastal scrub thickets.Confined to the coastal plain of Somalia.Browses on leaves, buds, and shoots.Vulnerable
Royal antelope Neotragus pygmaeus French: Antilope royale; German: Kleinstbockchen; Spanish: Antílope de realSmallest of the horned bovids; rabbit sized. Crouched in appearance. Reddish to golden brown fur, darker on head and along back; white on underside of body and tail and on chest and chin. Small horns up to one inch (2 cm) present on males and slanted backwards. Length 18–22 in (45–55 cm); height 9–12 in (22–30 cm); weight 4–8 lb (2–3.5 kg).Dense undergrowth, forest, and forest edges in moist and humid environments. Occur singly or in pairs on small territories. Shy and secretive, hides to avoid detection and escapes with short bursts when approached.Occurs patchily in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Ghana.Fresh leaves and buds, shoots, fungi, and fruit.Lower Risk/Near Threatened
Suni Neotragus moschatus French: Antilope musquee; German: Moschusbockchen; Spanish: SuniCrouched in appearance. Shiny fur is dark brown to rufous and speckled; white to gray undersides extending from tail to chin and including interior of limbs. Males possess thin, annulated horns up to 5 in (13 cm) and greatly enlarged facial glands. Length 22–25 in (55–63 cm); height 13–16 in (32–40 cm); weight 9–13 lb (4–6 kg).Coastal forest and areas of heavy undergrowth. Occur as pairs or small polygynous groups on territories of 5–15 acres (2–6 ha). Males fiercely territorial, demarcate territories with scent, auditory and visual displays. Most active at night.Occurs patchily east of the Rift Valley from Somalia to northeastern South Africa.Browses on fresh leaves and shoots, flowers, roots, and fungi.Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
Sharpe's grysbok Raphicerus sharpei English: Sharpe's grysbuck, Sharpe's steinbok, Tropiese grysbok; French: Grysbok du Sharpe; German: Sharpegreisbock; Spanish: Grysbok de SharpeBody is reddish brown to tan speckled with white; whitish to gray face, throat and undersides. Large, white-lined ears; "skirt" of white-tipped fur extending over the hindquarters. Males with short conical horns up to 4 in (10 cm), widely spaced and vertical. Length 24–31 in (60–80 cm); height 16–24 in (40–60 cm); weight 15–26 lb (7–12 kg).Prefers areas of considerable cover such as secondary growth, brush, riverine habitats, and thickets. Occur as pairs or singly on small territories demarcated with dung middens. Most active at night.From Lake Victoria south to the Transvaal west through the Zambezi valley, east to the coast of Mozambique.Browses on leaves and shoots, flowers, fruits.Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
Cape grysbok Raphicerus melanotis English: Grysbok, Cape grysbuck; French: Grysbok du cap; German: Kaapgreisbock; Spanish: Grysbok de capaBody is reddish brown speckled with white; whitish to gray chin, throat, ears, and undersides. Short, compact muzzle. Males with short, smooth horns up to 5 in (13 cm), angled vertically. Length 26–32 in (65–80 cm); height 18–24 in (45–60 cm); weight 18–29 lb (8–13 kg).Occurs in scrub and brush on sand dunes, at the base of hills and in riverine habitats. Occur singly or as loosely associated pairs. Males and females share territories or overlapping home ranges. Most active at night.Restricted to the southern Cape of South Africa.Primarily browses on shrubs, flowers and fruit. May go long periods without water.Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
Beira Dorcatragus megalotis French: Beira, dorcatrague; German: Beira; Spanish: BeiraSlender, long-legged, and long-necked. Fur thick and gray on back developing into a darker band along sides from front elbow to back thigh. Throat, chin and underparts off white; limbs and head rufous. Ears large and lined with white fur. Sharp, broad-set horns up to 5 in (13 cm) on males. Length 2.6–2.8 ft (80–86 cm); height 1.6–2 ft (50–60 cm); weight 20–25 lb (9–11.5 kg).Arid, rugged mountain habitats where rock and low brush provides forage and cover. Occur singly, in pairs, or in groups of up to 12 animals on large home ranges.Restricted to mountainous regions of northern Somalia.Leaves of small shrubs and bushes, also grasses.Vulnerable

Resources

Books

Brotherton, P. N. M. The Evolution of Monogamy in the Dik-dik. PhD thesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1994.

East, R. African Antelope Database 1998. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 1999.

Gosling, L. M. "The Even-toed Ungulates: Order Artiodactyla." In Social Orders in Mammals, edited by R. E. Brown and D. MacDonald. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Grzimek, B. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1972.

IUCN. World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Animals. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 2000.

Kingdon, J. East African Mammals, volumes 3C and D (Bovids). New York: Academic Press, 1982.

Vrba, E. S. "The Fossil Record of African Antelopes (Mammalia, Bovidae) in Relation to Human Evolution and Paleoclimate." In Paleoclimate and Evolution, with Emphasis on Human Origins, edited by E. S. Vrba, G. H. Denton, T. C. Partridge, and L. H. Burckle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press and The American Society of Mammalogists, 1993.

Periodicals

Brashares, J. S., and P. Arcese. "Scent Marking in a Territorial African Antelope: I. The Maintenance of Borders between Male Oribi." Animal Behaviour 57 (1999): 1–10.

Brashares, J. S., and P. Arcese. "Role of Forage, Habitat, and Predation in the Behavioural Plasticity of a Small African Antelope." Journal of Animal Ecology 71 (2002): 626–638.

Dubost, G., and F. Feer. "Saisons de Reproduction des Petits Ruminants dans le Nord-est du Gabon, en Fonction des Variations des Ressources Alimentaires." Mammalia 56 (1992): 25–43.

Dunbar, R. I. M., and E. P. Dunbar. "Social Organization and Ecology of the Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) in Ethiopia." Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 35 (1974): 481–493.

Fa, J. E., and A. Purvis. "Body Size, Diet and Population Density in Afrotropical Forest Mammals: A Comparison with Neotropical Species." Journal of Animal Ecology 66 (1997): 98–112.

Feer, F. "Observations écologiques sur le Néotrague de Bates (Neotragus batesi de Winton, 1903, Artiodactyle, Ruminant, Bovidé) du Nord-Est du Gabon." Terre et Vie 33 (1979): 159–239.

Hendrichs, H. "Changes in a Population of Dikdik Madoqua (Rhynchotragus) kirki (Günther 1880)." Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 38 (1975): 55–69.

Hofmann, R. R., and D. R. M. Stewart. "Grazer or Browser: A Classification Based on the Stomach Structure and Feeding Habits of East African Ruminants." Mammalia 36 (1972): 226–240.

Sinclair, A. R. E., S. A. R. Mduma, and P. Arcese. "What Determines Phenology and Synchrony of Ungulate Breeding in Serengeti?" Ecology 81 (2000): 2100–2111.

Tinley, K. L. "Dikdik Madoqua kirki in South West Africa: Notes on Distribution, Ecology and Behaviour." Madoqua 1 (1969): 7–33.

du Toit, J. T. "Feeding-height Stratification among African Browsing Ruminants." African Journal of Ecology 28 (1990): 55–61.

Justin S. Brashares, PhD

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