Not a duiker, but similar in size and favoured habitat, Bates’ Pygmy Antelope (Neofragus batesi) – the second-smallest African ungulate – is a Congolese rainforest species recorded in Semliki National Park and forests within and bordering the southern half of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Bates’ Pygmy Antelope, also known as Bate’s dwarf antelope, is a tiny antelope with skinny, long legs, large eyes, relatively small, ﬂesh-coloured ears and a little tail with a white underside.
Its pelage is ﬁne and soft, reddish or golden-brown and particularly red on the rump; darker brown on the upper back, crown and forehead—sides of face sandy-red; white spots at the base and upper margins of ears. The lower jaw, throat ‘bib’ and chest are white; the underparts and inside of limbs are whitish. Furthermore, this tiny antelope’s lateral hooves are absent or vestigial.
Female Bates’ pygmy antelope females are marginally larger and heavier than males. Tiny conical horns, in males only, follow the line of the nose and forehead and may be concealed by crest hair.
Bates’ pygmy antelope behaviour
Bates’ pygmy antelopes have a typical home range of 2 to 4 hectares. Males mark their ranges with secretions from their preorbital glands, leaving black marks on the tips of branches. Females are not as territorial as males and are sometimes found in small groups.
Males emit a nasal call when seeking females, and both sexes often make a short, raspy bark when fleeing.
Bates’s pygmy antelope are active throughout the day and night, with activity peaks around dawn and dusk. The day is typically spent in the dense forest, while foraging in more open habitats occurs at night. This antelope is rarely found far from thick cover, which it uses as a refuge from predators.
When foraging, Bates’s pygmy antelope travels with its head close to the ground, lifting its feet and placing them down carefully. If startled, the initial response is to freeze in position, followed by immediate flight into cover if a threat is detected.
Where to find them
Bates’ pygmy antelope occupies the tropical forests in the central African rainforest block. and is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with the least concern. It prefers secondary forests and the edge of habitats with low-level vegetation, especially agricultural plantations (bananas and coffee).
In Uganda Bete’s Pygmy Antelope has been recorded in Semliki National Park and forests within and bordering the southern half of Queen Elizabeth National Park.