Jentink’s duiker (Cephalophus jentinki)

French: Céphalophe De Jentink
Spanish: Duiquero De Jentink
GenusCephalophus (1)
SizeHead-body length: 130 – 150 cm (2)
Weight55 – 80 kg (2)

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

After the enigmatic Jentink’s duiker was discovered and described in 1885 (4), there were no sightings for over 50 years (5), probably due to their secretive lives in dense forest (6). Jentink’s duiker is easy to distinguish from other duikers due to its striking colouration. The black head and neck are offset with a contrasting white band extending across the shoulders to the top of the front legs, and the hind-quarters are a grizzled grey (2). Underneath each eye is an extremely large scent gland (4), thought to be used to mark their territories (6). Both males and females have smooth, straight, black horns that extend backwards from the head, and are long compared to other duikers, measuring up to 20 centimetres (5).

Fragmented populations of Jentink’s duiker occur within Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire (7).

Jentink’s duiker primarily inhabits primary forest, but can also be found in secondary forest, scrub, farms, plantations and occasionally, the seashore (2). A diversity of fruiting trees and very dense shelter appear to be the primary habitat requirements rather than forest type (2).

The secretive nature and inaccessible habitat of Jentink’s duiker has made it a difficult species to study, and no research on this species has ever been undertaken in Africa (4). It is thought to be active during periods of the day and night (4), and is believed to be territorial (2), spending its days hiding in dense vegetation, hollow trees or under fallen trunks (2). Unusually for duikers, which are relatively solitary animals, Jentink’s duikers sometimes rest in pairs during the day (2). Incredibly, Jentink’s duiker is so secretive, that it survived unknown for many years on the steep, forested slopes overlooking Freetown, Sierra Leone, an enormous city with over a million inhabitants (8).

Like other duikers, Jentink’s duiker has a diet primarily of fruit which it can feed on in the safety of its impenetrable habitat. However, when fruit is scarce, it ventures out under the cover of darkness to feed on palm nuts, mangos and cocoa pods in plantations. It has also been observed feeding on the growing stems of tree seedlings, and using its hooves to dig up roots to chew (2).

Much of the natural forest within the range of the Jentink’s duiker has been lost to human activities or modified by human disturbance; the area of primary forest in Sierra Leone is now just six percent of the original forest cover (9). The remaining forest in Côte d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone is highly fragmented and remains under pressure as humans seek to use more forest for farmland, timber, fuelwood and mineral resources (9).

Compounding the loss of its habitat is the threat of the bushmeat trade. Duikers are highly sought after by hunters as they are easily shot or captured, easily transported by foot and have sufficient meat to be highly profitable (10). In many areas duikers are now the main component of the trade in wildlife species (6), and evidence suggests that they are hunted at unsustainable rates (10).While Jentink’s duiker is currently assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, other scientists believe that due to hunting, the loss of vast areas of land being converted for agriculture, and the significant lack of protection throughout its range, Jentink’s duiker may be Endangered, or even Critically Endangered, and without action, could be extinct within the next ten years (4).

Jentink’s duiker is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in this species is only allowed in exceptional circumstances (3). However, this does little to control the threat of hunting within its range countries, and whilst in some areas of its distribution hunting of wild animals is now prohibited (2), such a ban is impractical and cannot be enforced (9). Unlike Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia still holds some large areas of forest, with the largest stands being in protected areas and forest reserves (9). The continued protection of these areas appears to be essential to the continued survival of Jentink’s duiker, along with efforts to educate the public about the plight of duikers and the importance of sustainable hunting (10).

For further information on Jentink’s duiker and the bushmeat trade see:

Authenticated (19/03/08) by Karl R. Kranz, Vice President for Animal Programs and Chief Operating Officer,Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)