Cephalophus rufilatusred-flanked duiker

Geographic Range

Cephalophus rufilatus, or red-flanked duikers, are found throughout central, western Africa. While members of the genus Cephalophus are common throughout most African forests, red-flanked duikers are one of only a few duiker species which have distributions outside African equatorial rain forests. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)


Red-flanked duikers thrive along the transition zones of savanna-forests and along drainage lines. These habitats are characterized by tall grass (primarily elephant grass, Pennisetum purpureum) and shrubs, (Capparis, Acanthus arboreus and others) and provide ample grazing opportunities and suitable cover from predators. (Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Physical Description

Red-flanked duikers have an orange-red coat which is lighter on the ventral side. They have a dark grey-black stripe along their dorsal midline, which extends from the tail to the shoulders and continues across the face onto the muzzle. The lower legs are also dark grey-black in color and give the animal the appearance of wearing stockings. ("IUCN World Conservation Union", 2003; Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Full grown males possess short black horns which project straight back from the forehead. Though usually absent, horns may also be present in females. If present, they are shorter on average than in males. In males horn length varies from 6 to 9.5 cm and from 3 to 4 cm in females. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

Cephalophus species, in general, are unique in that they possess preorbital glands that differ in their anatomy from other African antelope. These glands are located beyond the eyes on the snout (unlike other antelope) and form visible bulges in the cheeks. Red-flanked duikers have the largest preorbital glands of all duiker species. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

  • Range mass
    6 to 14 kg
    13.22 to 30.84 lb
  • Range length
    60 to 80 cm
    23.62 to 31.50 in


Mating behaviors of red-flanked duikers is not described in detail in the literature. Mating behaviors of species in the genus Cephalophus, however, are relatively homogenous. Courtship is characterized by following, biting, and licking of the female's genitalia by the male from a few days prior to estrus (which lasts a day), and until copulation. During estrus, female duiker squat unusually low while urinating. When urine-testing for pheromones, female urine elicits a response in which males wrinkle their upper lips in a distinctive grimace. Female duikers demonstrate sexual receptivity by swelling and reddening of the vulva. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Among captive male duikers, competition for mates takes the form of charging, aggressive chasing, head butting, and biting. Male competitive aggression in the wild has not been observed perhaps because individual home ranges are typically widely separated. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Red-flanked duiker births have been observed in the dry season and the early wet season. Red-flanked duikers typically give birth to a single young. Gestation lasts between 223 and 245 days. Birth weights average around 1000 g. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Newborn red-flanked duikers independently seek cover amid vegetation, exposing themselves only when nursing. Female red-flanked duikers mark their young with secretions from their preorbital glands directly after birth and when grooming. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

  • Breeding interval
    Females may give birth up to once per year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    7.43 to 8.17 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    270 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    9 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    270 days

Post-gestation parental investment in the genus Cephalophus is relatively low. Outside of nursing, red-flanked duikers occasionally groom their young and nurse them. They otherwise leave the young under cover of vegetation. They are weaned and feed independently at a weight of approximately 9 kg. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


The average lifespan of red-flanked duikers in the wild is five years and is most likely limited by predation. Red-flanked duikers have lived to be over 15 years old in captivity. (Huffman, 2006; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    10 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15.2 years


Red-flanked duikers are most active during the early morning and late evening, when they spend most of their time browsing for food. Red flanked duikers are relatively sedentary, occupying the same home range for a period of a few months before moving onto new territory. When actively feeding, red-flanked duikers are constantly alert and are easily provoked into escape behaviors. They drop their heads and dive into nearby vegetation when startled; a response that is characteristic for the genus Cephalophus. The common name duiker originates from the Afrikaans word DIKE-er meaning diving buck. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Red-flanked duikers, unlike other duiker species, do not engage in social play or reciprocal allogrooming. These two behaviors are common in other species of the genus Cephalophus. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Home Range

In the wild, red-flanked duiker occupy distinct home ranges, which rarely overlap. Within a particular home range, they live alone or in pairs. Greater congregations are occasionally spotted around water sources. Red-flanked duikers mark their browsing territory with odiferous secretions from their preorbital glands. These home ranges are small compared to other antelope and are occupied for a period of a few months before they are abandoned for new territory. (Estes, 1991; Hofmann and Roth, 2003; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

Communication and Perception

Red-flanked duikers have acute senses of hearing and smell, which are superior to those of humans and can make observations of red-flanked duikers challenging. They emit a shrill bark to communicate with their young and when threatened. Red-flanked duikers are also sensitive to territorial scent marking by other members of the species. (Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Food Habits

Red-flanked duikers are herbivorous and have been described as browsers. They feed primarily within a meter of the ground and do not spend considerable time in any area. Their diet consists mainly of leaves and fruits, but also includes flowers and twigs. One study of the stomach contents of C. rufilatus indicated a preference for feeding on fruits in secondary forest patches of the moist savanna. (Hofmann and Roth, 2003; Huffman, 2006)

Red-flanked duikers feed on the following plant species: Phoenix reclinata, Nauclea latifolia, Ficus capensis, Iliostigma thonningii, Mucuna flagellipes, Spondias mombin, Pterocarpus erinaceous, Bridelia micrantha, Vitex domiana, Annoa senegalensis, Phyllanthus muellerianus, Cola milleni, Fiscus capensis, Blighia sapida, and Gmellina aborea. (Hofmann and Roth, 2003; Huffman, 2006)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • flowers


Red-flanked duikers are preyed on by leopards (Panthera pardus), eagles (Harpyhaliaetus coronatus), pythons (Python reticulatus) and humans. Among all of their predators, humans take the greatest number. Red-flanked duikers rely heavily on early detection of threats and have highly sensitive hearing. They dive into dense undergrowth when threats are detected. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

Ecosystem Roles

Red-flanked duikers feed heavily on the fruit bearing species Phoenix reclinata, Nauclea latifolia, and Ficus capensis. It is likely that they are important seed dispersers of these plant species. (Dipeolu and Akinboade, 1984; Hofmann and Roth, 2003; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

Species in the genus Cephalophus are also hosts to several parasite species. The blood parasite Anaplasma marginale is commonly carried by red-flanked duikers. Ticks such as Rhipicephalus decoloratus and Amblyomma variegatum, are also carried by members of the genus Cephalophus. Interestingly, one study of tick reproduction found that ticks extracted from red-flanked duikers produce more eggs than those extracted from cattle in the same region. (Dipeolu and Akinboade, 1984; Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Red-flanked duikers are hunted for their meat, pelts and for sport. The predictability of their flight behavior (see Behavior section) has led them to be exploited by hunters who snare them in nets placed in shrubs and tall grass. (Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of red-flanked duikers on humans, though they may occasionally browse on farmland. (Huffman, 2006)

Conservation Status

Currently (April 2006) C. rufilatus is listed as lower risk by the IUCN. Hunting for bush meat and deforestation pose the greatest threat to wild populations of red-flanked duikers. To date, there have been no conservation projects aimed at protecting populations of this species in the wild. ("IUCN World Conservation Union", 2003; Pfefferkorn, 2005)

Other Comments

Because of their morphology, social behavior, and diet, duikers have been interpreted as models of primitive bovid ancestors, despite the fact that there is no fossil record supporting duiker ancestry. Key physical traits, however, may link duikers to neotragine antelopes. Research on duikers in captivity has also demonstrated that all duikers share similar behaviors in reproduction, locomotion and excretion, while additionally demonstrating differences from other bovids, perhaps related to differing life conditions. The presence of these specialized characteristics has been argued as further evidence that the genus Cephalophus does not represent an analog for primitive, bovid ancestors. (Dubost and Feer, 1988; Estes, 1991)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Benjamin Hanson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


2003. "IUCN World Conservation Union" (On-line). IUCN/SSC/Antelope Specialist Group/Northeast African Subgroup. Accessed March 19, 2006 at http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/neaasg/layout/1024.htm.

Dipeolu, O., O. Akinboade. 1984. Studies on ticks of vererinary importance in Nigeria XI. Observations on the biology of ticks detached from the Red-flanked duiker (Cephalophys Rufilatus) and parasites encountered in their blood. Veterinary Parasitology, 14: 87-93.

Dubost, G., F. Feer. 1988. Variabiulite comportmentale a l'interieur du genre Cephalophus (Ruminantia, Bovidae), par l'exemple de C. rufilatus Gray, 1846 [Behavioral differences in the genus Cephalophus (Ruminantia, Bovidae), as illustrated by C. rufilatus Gray, 1846]. Zeitschrift fur Saugetierekunde, 53: 31-47.

Estes, R. 1991. The behavior guide to African mammals: Including hoofed mammals, carnivores and primates. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hofmann, T., H. Roth. 2003. Feeding preferences of the Duiker (Cephalophus maxwelli, C. rufilatus, and C. niger) in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Mammalian Biology, 68: 65-77.

Huffman, B. 2006. "The Ultimate Ungulate Page" (On-line). Cephalophus rufilatus. Accessed March 06, 2006 at http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Cephalophus_rufilatus.html.

Kingdon, J. 1984. East African Mammals: An atlas of evolution in Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pfefferkorn, C. 2005. "Species Biological Facts Sheets" (On-line). Accessed April 05, 2006 at http://www.csew.com/antelopetag/Professional%20Site/Prof%20Bio%20Facts/Red-flanked%20Duiker/Red_flanked_Duiker.htm.