Common Duiker: Zakumi and Bigwig

Common Duiker – (Sylvicapra Grimmia)
July 5th, 2010

Mike brought me a present on this morning. A little baby; it still had a dry piece of cord attached to its belly, so was only days old. The baby was running along the roadside screaming its head off, so it was either scared out of hiding by a predator, or mommy had been gone a long time. These babies stay put and hidden until mom comes back, so it was rescue the little thing or let it be eaten. I wish his mom had rescued him. But she was nowhere to be found. It’s so hard to “let nature take its course”, but predators are also two-legged here, and if mum has been taken by one of them, we have to try to save baby. They can make great “pets”, and live up to 12 years! He’s so cute. Once he grows, he will be free to come and go as he pleases. He will probably stay close, as they have fairly small ranges of about 2kms square. So Mike brought it home to mum!

He has long, slim, pointy ears, and a dark stripe from his nose to his eyes, with the cutest little tuft curl between the ears. His coat is reddish/fawn on the longer outside coat, but grey inside. Underneath from chest to tail, is creamy white. His ankles and hoofs are dark brown, top of his tail is also dark and he has a beautiful black, soft, wet, nose with a blaze of black up to his eyes. The fur is very soft, especially around his face, and longish, like cat’s fur rather than a dog’s. The dark lines near his eyes are scent glands, they also have them on hooves and some on the chest, but I can’t remember if the Common duiker has a chest gland.
I can’t describe his scent, it’s not a strong scent, but it is pleasant and subtle. His tongue is dark on top and pink underneath. He only has bottom front teeth like sheep, and will get molars top and bottom soon. I can’t believe how strident his alarm-call is, really piercing! He took to lamb’s milk enthusiastically!1st feed 40mls, 2nd feed 60mls, 3rd feed 80mls.
Duikers bond by nibbling, licking and sucking around the head – mom and fawn, as well as mom and dad when courting. He’s kissed me all over my throat, face, nose, cheeks and ears, and I have obligingly responded with kisses, nibbles from my nails and little strokes with a damp tissue all over his head. I hope it’s enough loving. The reason for them doing this that rubbing their faces together transfers the scent. The licking is both grooming, which bonds the two strongly, and it is also mother and baby learning and locking in one anothers scent.
The dogs love him too, and Munchie took over “toilet-duty” immediately. Baby animals usually have to be encouraged to “go” by mum. She will lick their bottoms to encourage them to eliminate waste which she eats to hide all evidence of her baby. Munchkin did the same with Minx, my tiny kitten. She’s a born mommy. The fawn also poops and pees on my command (a damp tissue patted softly under his tail).
Gaz has claimed the fawn as his own lamb. My lamb (sheep) is weaning now and would rather be with the other lambs, so Gaz is looking for a new friend. The dogs are fascinated and smell and lick and invite him to play. Minx is jealous, and gives him piercing looks when he wakes and calls softly for milk. I think I am going to be rather busy in the next 3 months! I’m training him to use the cat litter box, as Minx has abandoned his box for the great outdoors, and I have lots of cat litter. It keeps things clean and odourless. Daytime he goes outside.
July 7th, 2010 well, the little guy has been fussy about his milk today, it’s taken lots of encouragement to get him to drink. Duikers are extremely shy and quiet and I think losing mum may be too much for him. Munchkin is doing “toilet duty” and licking his face and ears and grooming him. He cuddles up to her, so I’m putting them together in an enclosed courtyard with grass and shrubs tomorrow. He may need some special “mommying”. Munchy was the same with Minx, and “mommyed” him for the first few months. She also did it with the lamb. What a sweet doggie.
July 9th, 2010 Munchkin is a wonderful mommy! She keeps him spotlessly clean, even though his tummy is runny, and he is drinking loads of milk! He seems to love being in the courtyard. There’s lots of grass and shrubs to hide under and keep cool or warm depending on what he needs. The dogs can also get in and out as they like, and Munchkin is happy as a lark with her “baby”. It is so cute! He’s hanging in, still holding thumbs.
July 10th, 2010 The little guy is doing well. He loves it in the courtyard it seems, when I got out to feed him, he comes out of his bushy corner when called, drinks enthusiastically and then actually gambols around when I spoke to him. Too cute! He bucks and jumps and runs in a little circle, He’s lovely and seems to be happier and responsive. I am hopeful all will be right. He’s been with me a week tomorrow! Bless him.
July 19th, 2010 He now has an official name, Zakumi – it is the name of the World Cup 2010 Mascot – and we thought it appropriate. His name comes from “ZA”, the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for South Africa, and “kumi”, a word that means ten in several African languages, referencing the year 2010.
He is thriving in the courtyard, but Minx just slinks out of reach when he sees the fawn! Munchkin is still dedicated to toilet duty, although Zakumi is doing well in that department on his own. He still has the runs now and then, but that’s because the milk is not quite right. It’s the best we can do though. He has become a fantastic high-jumper and clears the cozy corner barriers I erected to contain him in my office. He now sleeps in the flat’s kitchen as it has a door to close! He hurls himself at the door to indicate that it’s time to eat or play. He is incredibly inquisitive, and when let into the house to explore, went into every nook and cranny to sniff and investigate. Then he decided to curl up with me on the couch, not encouraged because of his runny tummy. He was very put out and insistent when told no! I had to resort to banishing him to the kitchen again! He is just gorgeous and Gaz adores him. It seems he will be fine, as long as the milk keeps him satisfied. It is mid-winter here, so there’s nothing new, tender and juicy to eat for him. However, I’m not worried, his mom would have had the same problem. It’ll be Spring soon enough and he will be able to browse on lots of new, tasty greenery.
August 15th, 2010 The little guy is growing in leaps and bounds, doing really well. He leapt out of the waist-high gates of the courtyard about a week ago! He sleeps indoors at night, as it is still very cold, AND there are feral dogs and jackals around that will eat him if he goes walkabout. Now he spends his days in our huge garden, which is in early Spring. There are buds and new, green, tender growth all over. He is enthusiastically sampling everything, but oddly, seems to enjoy the brown, curled-in, expired leaves more! Ah well.
The “geezers” as Gaz calls the geese, are also inhabiting and feasting on the garden. There are 7 adults and 7 goslings. They are great fun to watch as they grumble and squabble and forage and take their daily constitutionals around and about. A rooster and his two hens are also regulars at the wanna-be smorgasbord of our garden. I hope spring really arrives in earnest, because there are lots of hungry mouths to feed. I hope and trust that the garden is not too hard pressed, and produces lots of lusciousness. I intend throwing lots of seeds for me and them, hoping to balance out the demand! I love my garden, but I love having these inhabitants too. Minx and the dogs, especially Munchie also love the interaction of the other animals. They all squabble and chase with intent, but are generally wary of crossing into personal space, and have decided to live and let live. Good babies! It is not peaceful really, but is vibrant, loud, entertaining and wonderful for my soul! I wouldn’t swap this raggedy-edged, inhabited garden for any other!
August 22nd, 2010 my little buckie-boy has gone to a new home. There is a Game lodge fairly close by, where hand-reared animals seem to find their long-term homes. We went for lunch one day and were entertained by two “brothers”, a 7 week old zebra and 3 week old warthog. They were adorable. Now there are a few buck around, different species, but also a female of the same species as my little boy! I took him through on Friday and it was a difficult, tearful bye-bye. However, I’m positive he’ll be better off there. I could not get the picture of him going off to feed and explore and getting attacked by jackals or feral dogs out of my head. I feel so much better this way, although I am missing him so much! Poor Gaz cried so much when we said goodbye, but he knows it is better for Zakumi.

Scientific Facts: Duiker is an Afrikaans word for “diver” and that is how this little buck dashes away, diving and jumping into the grass… and how he gets his name. Duikers are the smallest of our Antelopes. The Grey Duiker is the smallest, and our little boy is a Common Duiker. Common Duiker (Sylvicapra Grimmia)

General Characteristics
Body Length: 80-115 cm / 2.6-3.8 ft.
Shoulder Height: 45-60 cm / 1.5-2 ft.
Tail Length: 10-20 cm / 4-8 in.
Weight: 10-20 kg / 22-44 lb

Feeding & Nutrition Duiker are equally active during the day and night. They feed mostly during dusk and dawn in the cooler daytime hours and up to 3 hours after sunset. They usually spend the hot midday hours resting under the cover of thick vegetation. Duiker like browsing the top four centimeters of young, actively growing shoots and twigs. The diet also consists of pods and seeds, roots, bark, flowers, fungi, berries, fruit, young grass leaves, mushrooms, caterpillars, nestling birds, insects, small reptiles. Nibbling on fresh animal carcasses has also been recorded. Bulbs and nutritious plant roots are frequently dug up. Duiker are independent of surface water and are rarely attracted to drinking points, their daily water needs being fulfilled mainly by the moisture content of their dietary intake. In arid areas wild melons are eaten for their water content. They may be a problem in crops, orchards, vineyards and plantations.

Description Their coat is generally pale reddish-brown to grizzled gray. Undersides are whitish, while the muzzle, nose bridge, and forelegs are black.  The short tail is black on the top, contrasting sharply with the fluffy white underside.  The long, pointed ears are separated by a tuft of hair on the forehead.  Females are usually larger than males.  The sharply pointed horns are usually found only in males and grow 7-18 cm / 3-7 inches long.  The horns are more vertically oriented than in other duiker species, due to the more open habitat. Duiker avoid predators by lying quietly, or freezing motionless and dashing away at the last moment if approached closely. Its horns and sharp back hooves are used as defensive weapons. The alarm call is a nasal snort, if caught he bleats loudly, a sound that attracts other Duikers, and calls mothers to assist lambs. Lambs can run within a day of birth, but remain hidden in heavy cover, with the mother returning to suckle and clean them. Their main predators are Eagles, Leopard, Jackal and Python. Some are taken by Crocodile.


She came along in July 2013. Really tiny and delicate. Just beautiful. Her and Mavis the cat were best friends, along with ever faithful, adoptive mum Munchie. She grew up in the same way as Zakumi did, and was also released back into a safe environment once weaned.


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