Abbott's Duicker: Kilimanjaro National Park.

    Kilimanjaro National Park is located near the town of Moshi in northern Tanzania. The park covers the whole of Mount Kilimanjaro starting from the tree line, 2,700 meters above sea level. The park is rich in unique flora and fauna, a fact that prompted UNESCO to designate the park as a World Heritage Site in 1987. A study conducted in 2001 uncovered 140 mammal species, 179 highland bird species and 2,500 plant species. Sadly, some of these are at the cusp of extinction, and none more so than Abbott's duicker.


     

    About the Abbott's Duicker

    Abbott's duicker or Cephalophus spadix is a shy, antelope-like animal found in Kilimanjaro National Park among other places in Tanzania. Also known as minde in Swahili, the animal is so hard to find that the first photographs were taken in 2003. Experts estimate that only 1,500 of these creatures exist. Abbott's duickers prefer dense bush, and are active mainly at night. They probably feed on flowers, fruits, moss, and other vegetation, and sometimes feed on live prey.



    What do they look like?

    A pair of short, thin horns, slanted backwards, jut from a wedge-shaped head which is a pale gray-brown in color. The nostril pad is broad and flat and extends slightly over the mouth. The animal's upper lips are whitish, while the ears are rounded at the tips and small. The forehead, deep brown in color, is covered with a large tuft that sometimes covers part of the horns. This tuft is usually reddish, but it may also be pale gray, maroon or chestnut. A thick neck connects the head with a body that is covered in glossy dark brown or black pelt. However, the pelt gets lighter on the lower flanks, under the neck and head, on the belly and on the insides of the legs. The tail and legs are short. The creature's height ranges from fifty to seventy five centimeters, roughly two feet, when measured from the shoulder. Its weight ranges from fifty to sixty kilograms, or 110 to 132 pounds.

    Little is known about how they reproduce. The main threats to their existence are the destruction of their habitats, mainly forests and swamps lying between 1,700 to 2,700 meters above sea level, and hunting. The animal's main enemies probably include lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, pythons and crowned eagles. To protect themselves, they will either use their horns or run away.



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