Cephalophus zebrazebra duiker

Geographic Range

Cephalophus zebra is found in primary forest areas in the mid-western part of Africa; It inhabits the regions of Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast, but is most commonly distributed in the eastern central country of Liberia (Kingdon, 1997).


The zebra duiker is found in primary forests from low-lying areas such as river valleys to hill-forest habitats (Kingdon, 1997).

Physical Description

Cephalophus zebra, also known by the common name zebra duiker, has black vertical stripes over a cream colored area which is located dorsally on the mid-torso. The ventral surface is a solid cream color. The head, neck, rump, and limbs are red-brown with some patches of black found near the joints of the limbs (Kingdon, 1997).

Zebra duikers have a short, yet muscular stature, standing approximately 40-50 cm tall and weighing up to 20 kg (Kingdon, 1997). The limbs are short in relation to the body. Cephalophus zebra also has a pair of short and rounded horns, these horns taper sharply and point posteriorly (Kingdon, 1997). Sexual dimorphism occurs in this species with females being consistantly larger than male duikers (Wilson et. al., 1984). (Kingdon, 1997; Wilson, et al., 1984)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    15 to 20 kg
    33.04 to 44.05 lb


Breeding in zebra duikers occurs about once a year with a gestation period of about 221 to 229 days. Females can mate again approximately ten days after giving birth (Schweers, 1984). The rather long gestation period is possibly an explanation for the larger size of females (Wilson et. al., 1984).

Scented secretions are found in several glands on the body. These secretions seem to aid in sexual communication. Male duikers secrete a more concentrated scent than that of the female (Burger et.al., 1990). The glands occur in the preorbital region, below the calcaneum on the hind legs, and in the groin (Kingdon, 1997).

It is thought that monogamous pair bonds are maintained (Kingdon, 1997).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    7.37 to 7.63 months
  • Average gestation period
    7.43 months
  • Parental Investment
  • extended period of juvenile learning


Zebra duikers are solitary animals except when paired with a mate or when raising an infant. Mating pairs often engage in mutual rubbing or licking of preorbital glands (Vaughan et. al., 2000). Mating pairs are also defend their territory. Both sexes have horns and will use them to attack invading duikers.

The stripes on the back of Cephalophus zebra are a visual defense mechanism. A predator's attention is focused on the animal's movement, rather than their body outlines (Kingdon, 1997).

Infant care in zebra duikers is extremely important for both females and males, especially because of the long gestation period. In addition, zebra duikers mature slowly "suggesting that prolonged learning may be necessary for successful exploitation of a difficult environment," (Kingdon, 1997).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Zebra duikers are fruit and foliage browsers. Their diet includes leaves, shoots, and seasonal fruits (Owen-Smith, 1997). Due to the duiker's short stature, they are not able to forage on fruits and leaves that exist in tall trees. Much of the food they consume is provided by climbing or flying animals such as monkeys, bats, or birds which will accidentally dislodge fruit or leaves to the forest floor during their normal foraging activities. Duikers will then feed upon this dropped vegetation (Kingdon, 1997).

Cephalophus zebra have a thickening of the frontal bone in the skull which seems to serve as a tool for cracking open hard-shelled fruits (Kingdon, 1997). This enables them to access a food source which is not available to many other forest inhabitants which cannot open these fruits.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans rarely encounter zebra duikers in the wild but they are sometimes hunted for their meat (Kingdon, 1997).

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

Conservation Status

Zebra duikers are limited to primary forest areas which are currently becoming restricted due to logging and development. Cephalophus zebra is considered threatened due to forest destruction. In areas such as Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast populations are considered close to extinction (Kingdon, 1997).

Other Comments

Zebra duikers as well as other members of Cephalophus are believed to resemble ancestral bovids (Vaughan et. al., 2000).


Michelle Mijal (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

World Map

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


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.


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.


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.


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


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


The term is used in the 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Endangered (E), Vulnerable (V), Rare (R), Indeterminate (I), or Insufficiently Known (K) and in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU).


Burger, B., P. Pretorius, H. Spies, R. Bigalke, G. Grierson. 1990. Mammalian Pheromones VIII. Chemical Characterization of Preorbital Gland. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 16: 397-416.

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. London: Academic Press.

Owen-Smith, N. 1997. Distinctive Features of the Nutritional Ecology of Browsing Versus Grazing Ruminants. Zeitschrift fuer Saeugetierkunde, 62: 176-191.

Schweers, V. 1984. On the Reproductive Biology of the Banded Duiker Cephalophus Zebra in Comparison with Other Species of Cephalophus. International Journal of Mammalian Biology, 49: 21.

Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammology. Orlando, FL: Saunders College Publishing.

Wilson, V., J. Schmidt, J. Hanks. 1984. Age Determination and Body Growth of the Common Duiker Sylvicapra- Grimmia Mammalia. Journal of Zoology, 202: 283-298.