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Zebra Duiker: Characteristics, Diet, Facts & More [Fact Sheet]

The Zebra Duiker, a small and strikingly marked antelope, is one of the lesser-known yet fascinating species in the African wilderness. Known for its distinctive zebra-like stripes and shy demeanor, the Zebra Duiker is a creature of mystery and elegance.

In this article, we will explore various aspects of the Zebra Duiker, from its taxonomy and physical description to its behavior, diet, and conservation status. This fact sheet aims to shed light on this elusive animal, offering insights into its life and the challenges it faces in its natural habitat.

The Zebra Duiker at a Glance


Class:Mammalia (Mammals)
Species:C. zebra

Essential Information

Average Size:70 to 90 cm (27.5 to 35.4 inches) in length
Average Weight:15 to 20 kg (33 to 44 lbs)
Average Lifespan:Approximately 10 years in the wild
Geographical Range:Primarily found in Liberia, with populations in other parts of West Africa
Conservation Status:Vulnerable (IUCN Red List)

Species and Subspecies

The Zebra Duiker is a distinct species within the genus Cephalophus, known for its unique striping pattern. While it does not have any recognized subspecies, the Zebra Duiker shows some regional variation in size and coloration across its range.

These differences, however, are not significant enough to classify separate subspecies. The Zebra Duiker is part of a larger group of duikers, small to medium-sized antelopes found in Sub-Saharan Africa, each species having its distinct characteristics and adaptations.

Cephalophus_zebraSource: Wikimedia Commons


The Zebra Duiker is a small, forest-dwelling antelope with some distinctive physical characteristics.

The most striking feature of the Zebra Duiker is its namesake stripes. The animal has a reddish-brown coat with vertical white stripes running down its sides, resembling the pattern of a zebra. This striping is thought to help camouflage it in the dappled light of its forest habitat.

They are relatively small, measuring about 70 to 90 cm (27.5 to 35.4 inches) in length. The Zebra Duiker also possesses a short, sharp horn, which can be found in both males and females, although it is typically more pronounced in males.

They have a robust body with a large head in proportion to their size, short legs, and a pointed, slightly upturned snout. Males and females are similar in appearance, though males may have slightly longer horns and a larger body size.

Habitat and Distribution

The Zebra Duiker is primarily found in the dense tropical rainforests of West Africa. Their range extends from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, with isolated populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and possibly Ghana.

They inhabit primary and secondary lowland rainforests, where there is dense undergrowth. They are rarely found in disturbed or open areas, preferring the cover and food resources available in dense forest environments.


The behavior of the Zebra Duiker reflects its need for concealment and its adaptation to life in the forest. Zebra Duikers are shy and elusive, making them difficult to observe in the wild. They are primarily diurnal, spending their days foraging for food and resting in the dense underbrush.

They are typically solitary or found in pairs, possibly a mating pair or a mother with her offspring. Little is known about their specific communication methods, but like other duiker species, they may use vocalizations and scent markings to communicate with each other.

Their small size and coloring are adaptations for life in dense forests, allowing them to move through underbrush easily and remain hidden from predators.

Understanding the behavior and adaptations of the Zebra Duiker is crucial for conservation efforts, as their survival is closely linked to the preservation of their forest habitat.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

The Zebra Duiker has a unique diet and feeding behavior that reflects its forest habitat. They are primarily frugivores, feeding on fruits that fall to the forest floor. Their diet also includes leaves, flowers, and fungi. Occasionally, they consume small animals like insects and birds, showing omnivorous tendencies.

The Zebra Duiker forages on the forest floor, using its keen sense of smell to locate food. Its upturned snout is well-adapted for digging and rooting in the leaf litter to find fallen fruits and other food sources.


In their natural habitat, Zebra Duikers face threats from several predators. Their main predators include leopards, eagles, and pythons. The dense forest environment provides some level of protection, but they remain vulnerable, especially the young and weak.

When threatened, Zebra Duikers are likely to flee, using their small size and agility to navigate through dense vegetation. They are also known to freeze and remain motionless to avoid detection.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

The reproductive habits and life cycle of the Zebra Duiker are characteristic of the species. Zebra Duikers are believed to be monogamous, forming long-term pair bonds. Mating can occur throughout the year, but there may be peaks related to environmental conditions.

The gestation period lasts about 221 days, after which a single calf is born. The calf is well-developed at birth and can stand and walk shortly after. It is hidden in dense vegetation for the first few weeks of life, with the mother returning regularly to nurse it. This hiding strategy is a common defense against predators.

Calves are weaned at around 90 days but may remain with the mother for several months. They reach sexual maturity at around two years of age.

The reproductive strategy of the Zebra Duiker, involving hiding the young and extended parental care, is crucial for the survival of the offspring in the predator-rich environment of the rainforest.

Conservation and Threats

The conservation status of the Zebra Duiker is a matter of increasing concern due to various environmental challenges. The Zebra Duiker is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The primary threats to their survival include habitat loss due to deforestation, bushmeat hunting, and human encroachment. The fragmentation of their habitat makes them more vulnerable to predation and hunting.

Efforts to conserve the Zebra Duiker involve habitat protection and the enforcement of hunting regulations. Conservation programs also focus on community education to reduce bushmeat hunting and promote sustainable practices.

The conservation of the Zebra Duiker is essential not only for the species itself but also for the biodiversity of the rainforests they inhabit.

Fun Facts

  1. Distinctive Stripes: The Zebra Duiker gets its name from the unique zebra-like stripes on its reddish-brown coat, making it one of the most distinctively patterned antelopes.
  2. Forest Dwellers: They are one of the few antelope species adapted to life in dense rainforests, showcasing remarkable evolutionary specialization.
  3. Diverse Diet: Despite being primarily frugivores, their occasional consumption of small animals reflects their adaptability in the wild.
  4. Shy Nature: Known for their elusive behavior, Zebra Duikers are rarely seen, adding to their mystique in the animal kingdom.
  5. Unique Snout: Their upturned snout is not just for show – it’s a specialized tool for foraging in the forest floor’s leaf litter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do Zebra Duikers eat?

Their diet mainly consists of fruits, leaves, flowers, and fungi, with occasional consumption of insects and small animals.

How long do Zebra Duikers live?

In the wild, they typically live for about 10 years.

Where can Zebra Duikers be found?

They are native to the rainforests of West Africa, particularly in Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

Are Zebra Duikers solitary?

They are usually found alone or in pairs, suggesting a solitary or monogamous lifestyle.

What are the conservation efforts for Zebra Duikers?

Conservation efforts include habitat protection, anti-poaching initiatives, and community education programs.

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