RANGE:eastern and southwestern Africa
STATUS:stable throughout range
HABITAT:dry brush and mixed grasses
DIET: HERBIVOREleaves, buds, shoots, fruits, grasses
“Where I live”
The dik-dik exhibited at the Zoo belongs to the subspecies Kirk’s dik-dik. These animals live mainly in eastern Africa, with a small isolated population along the coast of southwest Africa. They prefer dry bush and mixed bush-grass habitat that provides good cover and plenty of food.
“How I live there”
Dik-diks are active mostly in the early morning or late afternoon and evening. During the hottest part of the day, they curl up in the shade and rest. Every dik-dik pair establishes a territory ranging in size from 12.5 to 75 acres (an acre being about the size of a football field). The pair walks its territory each day, browsing on leaves, buds, shoots, fruits and grasses. Most of the water they ingest comes from the plants that they eat.
“Making my mark”
By traveling the same paths repeatedly, visiting food sources in their territory, dik-diks cut trails through the thick cover of grasses and brush. Both the male and female mark their territory with dung deposits and secretions from preorbital scent glands beneath their eyes.
“What eats me”
Unfortunately for Kirk’s dik-diks, many, many, many animals eat them. They are preyed upon by lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, and pythons. Young are also taken by eagles, baboons and genets.
When threatened by a predator, a dik-dik will whistle through its nose, crying “zik-zik” or “dik-dik,” flee in a zig-zag pattern, then get low to the ground and freeze. Like rabbits, dik-diks usually choose to freeze or hide rather than run from a predator.
Kirk’s dik-diks form permanent monogamous pairs. While males will occasionally try to mate outside the pair, females will not. Males guard their mates closely. Females give birth to single offspring, usually twice a year. The offspring remains with its parents until chased off, usually when its mother gives birth again.
Kirk’s dik-diks are not at risk.