Dwarf antelope

Neotragus batesi

TAXONOMY

Neotragus batesi de Winton, 1903, Efulen, Bulu Country, Cameroon. Two recognized subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Bate's pygmy antelope, Bate's dwarf antelope, pygmy antelope; French: Antilope de Bates; German: Batesbockchen; Spanish: Antilope de Bates.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Tiny, delicate antelope with large eyes, small, rounded ears, and short, pointed muzzle. Length 19-23 in (47-58 cm); height 7.5-11.5 in (19-29 cm); weight 4-10 lb (1.8-4.5 kg). Body is reddish to golden-brown, darker on back and head; belly, throat, and chin and spots below ears are white, as is underside of tail. Horns on males short and conical.

DISTRIBUTION

Patchily distributed in two distinct regions, the first in western Africa from Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon to Central African Republic and Congo (Brazzaville), and the second in central Africa from eastern Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to western Uganda.

HABITAT

Tree gaps or areas of heavy undergrowth in moist lowland forests. Includes dense habitats along rivers, roads, plantations, gardens, and in secondary growth following logging. Occur at densities up to 194 per mi(75 per km2) in ideal habitats, but more often seen at densities of 4-8 per mi2 (1.5-3 per km2).

BEHAVIOR

Cryptic and shy, this antelope is adapted to life in closed habitats. Has a slow, high-stepping gait when moving through the forest, responds to danger by freezing and then darting for cover if the threat approaches closely. Quick for short distances, but lacks stamina to outlast predators if caught in larger clearings. Males mark territories with black, tar-like secretions of the pre-orbital gland. Short, nasal moans are used to maintain contact between individuals, and they sometimes bark when fleeing from danger.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Selective browsers of high-quality leaves, stems, and shoots from a vast number of food plants. Crops such as sweet potatoes, peanuts, and peppers are also consumed, as are fruits. Foraging occurs both day and night in remote locations and more often only at night in areas near human habitation.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males form exclusive home ranges of 5-10 acres (2-4 ha). Reproduction occurs year round but with two peaks coinciding with the arrival of rainy seasons. As many as 80% of breeding-age females are pregnant at any given time. Young are hidden for months and weaning typically occurs during the rainy season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Lower Risk/Near Threatened. This antelope's ability to use and sometimes thrive in human-dominated habitats has enabled it to survive in areas where other mammals cannot. However, heavy hunting and the loss of forest habitat present major threats. It is captured in nets and snares by hunting parties and also taken by dogs in areas near human settlements.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Linked to folklore and taboos in some areas of its distribution, which has helped protect it from over-harvest in these regions. Accounts for only a small percentage of animals sold as bush meat in western Africa, but has considerable subsistence value for communities living in and near forests. Skin is used for traditional crafts. ♦

0 0

Post a comment