A large forest antelope endemic to just a handful of mountains in Tanzania. Known as Minde in KiSwahili, it is probably Africa’s rarest duiker and remains endangered.
Abbott’s duiker is a montane forest-dependent species. It's distribution and abundance has dramatically decreased in the last few years due to hunting as well as habitat loss and fragmentation.
Abbott’s duiker is active by both day and night and can weigh up to 60kg. Its diet includes fruits, flowers, green shoots and leaves (especially balsams). It is also know to raid crops such as sweet potatoes, bananas, beans, cassava and cowpeas. The main non-human predator of Abbott’s duiker is the leopard although young are hunted by African crowned eagles and pythons. In the Udzungwa Mountains, the lion and spotted hyena are also predators.
It is a montane forest-dependent species, so it is only found in important, remnant patches of high biodiversity - disturbed and secondary montane forest and bamboo forest in the Southern Highlands, forests, swamps and moorland in Mt. Kilimanjaro and semi-deciduous and evergreen forests in the Udzungwa Mountains as well as on their highest peaks.
Abbott’s duiker’s distribution and abundance has dramatically decreased in the last few years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as hunting. Despite once being widespread across Tanzania’s mountains, it is now only known from Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ilole forest in the Rubeho Mountains, the Udzungwa Mountains and the Southern Highlands. Due to this decline, the official IUCN status of Abbott’s duiker was upgraded in 2008 from Vulnerable to Endangered. The total population of Abbott’s duiker is unknown but is estimated to be less than 1,500 individuals.
WCS has been studying and helping to conserve Abbott’s duiker in Tanzania since 2002. In the Southern Highlands there had been no management in any of the forests until recently and duikers were being hunted to extinction. WCS work includes comprehensive surveys of duiker hunting; carrying out regular snare sweeps to remove hunting snares; distribution and abundance assessments; awareness raising and education initiatives in communities including setting up Minde Wildlife Clubs for children; protecting forest corridors that allow threatened populations to expand their range; and employing hunters in environmental education in exchange for stopping hunting.
Working with the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali (MTSN), WCS is helping to implement the first national (and thus global) assessment of this flagship and much-neglected species, hoping to answer all key questions regarding the animal’s total distribution and provide for the first time an accurate estimate of total population.