Yellow-backed duikers get their name from the yellow hairs (rest of the body is blackish-brown) that run down their arched backs. Their short front legs and tall back legs result in this arched back – an adaptation for diving swiftly into vegetation for safety. Yellow-backed duikers have the largest brain relative to body size of any antelope as well as acute senses of vision and hearing. They will often follow birds or primates around to eat any dropped fruit. These duikers are generally seen alone or in pairs as they are very shy and elusive. Both males and females possess short horns, but it is thought that the females are more territorial because their horns are regularly broken. They also possess preorbital glands, which they use to mark their territory. Males will fight when their territory is invaded. Females may share territory with a single male if they are in a semi-detached pair relationship.
Distribution: Moist lowland and montane forests and forest-savanna mosaics in eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa.
Diet in the Wild: Generally fruits, seeds and small amounts of other plant material such as shoots and buds.
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Grain, alfalfa and varied fruits and vegetables
IUCN Red List Status: Near Threatened, population decreasing
Threats: Habitat destruction, hunting
The yellow-backed duiker is so named for the yellow patch on its rump which contrasts with the blackish-brown hair that covers the rest of its body.
The yellow-backed duiker is one of the largest species of duiker, weighing between 99 lbs and 176 lbs (45 kg and 80 kg) with a shoulder height of between 28 in and 34 in (70 cm and 87 cm). Size varies greatly among the different species of duiker, however. One of the smallest species of duiker, the blue duiker, only weighs between 8 lbs and 20 lbs (3.5 kg and 9 kg) and has a shoulder height of between 14 in and 16 in (35 cm and 41 cm).
The name “duiker” means “diving buck”, referring to the duiker’s habit of diving into dense vegetation when alarmed.