Scientific Name:
Cephalophus sylvicultor

Conservation Status:
Yellow-backed duikers are the most abundant of all duiker species, yet they are still threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and poaching for the bushmeat trade. Duikers are one of the preferred animals in the bushmeat trade due to their timid nature and small size.

Where to see them at the zoo:
Bongo habitat; duikers rotate with bongos in the habitat.

Fun Facts:

Duikers play an important role in their native forest ecology. Since they eat a variety of fruits, they play a very important role in seed dispersal for many plant species.

The word “duiker” means “diver” in the Afrikaans language; the name was used to describe the way duikers dive through the underbrush when frightened.


 Yellow-backed Duiker

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Yellow-backed duikers are the largest of the 15 known duiker species.

Body length: 125-145 centimeters / 3.8-4.8 feet
Shoulder height: 65-80 centimeters / 2.1-2.8 feet  
Weight:  45-80 kilograms / 100 pounds

This species of duiker has a short, dark, glossy coat with a white to orange stripe down the middle of the back. The muzzle is light gray, and lips are white. Both males and females have short, wedge-shaped horns.

West Africa (Senegal, Liberia) through central and equatorial Africa into Kenya, and south to northern Angola and Zambia

Dense mountain, riverine and tropical forests

Yellow-backed duikers are diurnal. Monogamous pairs form small, jointly-marked territories. Duikers sleep in “forms,” or regularly-used beds found under fallen tree trunks, in root structures at the bases of trees and in dense tangles of vegetation. Their scent and vocal signals are extremely developed. Territorial behavior includes scent-marking, horning vegetation and dominance and defensive displays. Anti-predatory behavior includes alert postures, sneaking away, flight into underbrush, snorting, freezing in mid-stride and stomping with hind legs.

Yellow-backed duikers are primarily frugivorous (feeding mainly on fruit); however, will eat a variety of other foods in small quantities, including flowers, roots, rotting wood, fungi and some insects (particularly ants).

Life Cycle
Yellow-backed duikers form monogamous pairs. Females are sexually mature at a year old, giving birth to one to two calves following a six-month gestation. Calves are kept well-hidden in underbrush for their first two weeks of life. Males play an active role in protecting the calves. Yellow-backed duikers live 10 to 12 years.

Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Yellow-backed duikers have the widest range of all duiker species. They share their habitat with many other animals, including forest elephants, chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, giraffe, lions, waterbucks and African wild dogs.

Population Status & Threats
While yellow-backed duikers are the most abundant duiker species, they are still threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and poaching for bushmeat. The species is also considered a nuisance by farmers.

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts
Zoo Atlanta participates in a captive population management program, collateral habitat protection through related conservation efforts and provides education on the bushmeat trade.