Bates’ Pygmy Antelope (Neofragus batesi)

Not a duiker, but similar both in size and favored habitat, Bates’ Pygmy Antelope (Neofragus batesi) – the second-smallest Africa ungulate – is a Congolese rainforest specie that has been recorded in Semliki National Park and in forests within and bordering the southern half of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Bates’ Pygmy Antelope (Neofragus batesi), also known as Bate’s dwarf antelope, is a tiny antelope, with very thin, long legs, large eyes, relatively small, flesh-coloured ears and a diminutive tail with white underside. Pelage is fine and soft, reddish or golden-brown and particularly red on the rump; darker brown on upper back, crown and forehead. Sides of face sandy-red; white spots at the base and upper margins of ears. Lower jaw, throat ‘bib’ and chest are white; underparts and inside of limbs whitish.

This tiny antelope’s lateral hooves absent or vestigial. Female Bates’ pygmy antelopes 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
This the world's smallest antelope, Bate's Pygmy Antelope (Size of a Cottontail Rabbit) | @Africahunting.com

Behavior

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 the 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 peaks of activity around dawn and dusk. The day is typically spent in dense forest, while foraging in more open habitats occurs at night. This antelope is rarely found far from dense 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.

Habitat

Tropical forests in the central African rainforest block. Secondary forests and edge habitats with low-level vegetation are preferred; agricultural plantations (especially for bananas and coffee) are used extensively.

In Uganda Bete’s Pygmy Antelope has been recorded in Semliki National Park and in forests within and bordering the southern half of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

References

  • Grizmek, B. 1988. Grizmek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York, N.Y.: Mc Graw-Hill Publishing Co.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Baltomore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Adam Randall, St. Lawrence University, Erika Barthelmess, St. Lawrence University.
  • IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Neotragus batesi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14603A50190946. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T14603A50190946.en.
  • Bradt Travel Guides, Uganda, By Philip Briggs, Andrew Roberts. https://amzn.to/372YK7p

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