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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Cephalophus spadix
Abbott's duiker
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Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Abbott's duiker
Cephalophus spadix
Céphalophe d'Abbott, Abbottducker, Mende, Minde, Vinde or Muvinde, Binde

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 100-140 cm
Shoulder height: 65-75 cm
Tail length: 8-13 cm
Adult weight: 50-60 kg

Abbott's duiker is a large-bodied duiker with short legs and a thick neck. The coat, which is short and glossy, is an overall very dark brown or black in color. The undersides are pale brown (usually with a reddish tone), and the throat and face are pale grayish-brown. There are no conspicuous facial markings, but the upper lip is whitish and the forehead deep brown in color. A distinctive bushy crest of long hair grows at the top of the head between the ears; this may vary in color from pale brown to deep chestnut, but it usually has a bright reddish hue. Sharp spike-like horns are present in both sexes, and are directed backwards from the top of the head in line with the forehead. Although the horns are long (8-12 cm) compared to most other duikers, they are sometimes entirely hidden by the thick forehead tuft.

Similar species
  • The yellow-backed duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is similar in size and coloration, but has a distinctive yellow wedge from mid-back to rump and has a much shorter and sparser forehead crest.
  • Ignoring the substantial difference in size, Abbott's duiker and the black duiker (Cephalophus niger) are remarkably similar in appearance, both being dark with reddish crests. They are easily distinguished on the basis of their native ranges (west Africa versus Tanzania).

Reproduction and Development

Very little is known about the reproduction of Abbott's duiker, although it is presumably similar to the closely-related yellow-backed duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor). Infants have been observed in September and October, but this species is probably able to breed year-round.

Ecology and Behavior

Very little is known about the habits of Abbott's duiker in the wild due to its secretive nature. Activity patterns drawn from reports and camera-trapping results suggest the species is nocturnal, likely spending the day resting in dense undergrowth. Hunters are well-aware of this duiker's use of regular pathways (which usually run diagonally along hillsides) and often hunt the species with snares. If pursued, individuals may swim to evade the threat, and if cornered they may aggressively defend themselves. Abbott's duiker is rare across its range. Even in optimal habitat, the maximum population density is 1.3 individuals per km²; in less suitable areas, population densities may be only 0.1 per km².
Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Principally fruit, but also leaves, flowers, and animal matter.
Main Predators: Leopard, lion, spotted hyena. African crowned eagle and pythons may hunt youngsters.

Habitat and Distribution

Abbott's duiker inhabits dense montane forests, usually at altitudes of 1,300-2,700 meters. This species is endemic to Tanzania, where it is found in four separate mountain ranges: Mount Kilimanjaro, the west Usambara mountains, the Udzungwa mountain range, and the southern highlands. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(data from Moyer, Jones, and Rovero, 2008)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Endangered (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2012).
Threats: Snaring, habitat loss (to agriculture and logging).

Abbott's duiker is a difficult species to survey on account of its shyness and nocturnal nature. There are an estimated 1,500 individuals remaining in the wild. However, populations are extremely fragmented, and only two viable populations may remain (in the Udzingwa Mountains and on Mount Kilimanjaro).

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