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Dik-dik
Male, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Madoqua
(Ogilby, 1837)
Species

Madoqua gunther
Madoqua kirkii
Madoqua piacentinii
Madoqua saltiana

For the pop group, see Dik Dik.

A dik-dik, pronounced "dĭk’ dĭk", is a small antelope of the Genus Madoqua that lives in the bush of East Africa, Angola and Namibia. Dik-diks stand 30–40 cm (approx. 12–16 inches) at the shoulder, are 50-70 cm (approx. 20-28 inches) long, weigh 3–6 kg (approx. 7-16 pounds) and can live for up to 10 years. Dik-diks are named for the alarm calls of the females, which make a dik-dik, or zik-zik sound. In addition to the female's alarm call, both the male and female make a shrill whistling sound. These calls often alert a variety of other animals to any disturbance in the area. Consequently, hunters regard dik-diks as a nuisance and have killed great numbers in the past in order to prevent them from scaring away game animals.[1]

Contents

Habitat

The Dik- dik lives in grasslands of southern Africa. Dik-diks seek habitats with plentiful supply of edible plants such as shrubs, but prefer foliage that is not so tall as to obstruct their sight lines. They live in open plains amongst other grass-eaters such as giraffes, zebras, and other antelopes. Dik-diks may live in places as varied as dense forest or open plain, but they must have good cover and not too much tall grass or plants.[2] The Dik-dik also uses the small plants for food, and to hide from predators. They will move when the grass grows too tall for them to see over. They usually live in pairs over a 5 hectare (12 acre) territory. The territories are often in low, shrubby bushes along dry, rocky streambeds where there are plenty of hiding places. Dik-diks can blend in their surroundings, because of their dusty colored fur. Dik-diks have a series of runways through and around the borders of their territories to block off other Dik-diks, mainly females.[3]

The Dik-diks have adapted to the African climates. They have adapted to arid conditions, and having short fur, the Dik dik can live through hot temperatures. The Dik- dik has also adjusted to the rainy months. These months particulary include March and April.[4]

Diet

Dik-diks are herbivores, so their diet mainly consists of foliage, shoots, fruit and berries. Dik-diks receive sufficient amounts of water from their food for hydration, making drinking unnecessary. They are also nocturnal, so they avoid the heat of the day and any unnecessary water loss. They digest their food with the aid of microorganisms in the their four chambered stomach. After eating, the food is regurgitated and re-chewed, also known as chewing the cud. The dik-dik has a special jaw and tooth structure which helps it adapt to its diet, and is ideal for chewing the cud. Their specially shaped head also gives them the ability to eat the leaves between the spikes on the Acacia trees, and the ability to feed while still keeping their head high for observation for predators.[5]

Social structure

Dik-diks form permanent mating pairs. Conflicts between territorial neighbors seldom occur. When this is the case the males from each territory dash at each other, stop short, vigorously nod their heads and turn around. They will repeat this process increasing the distance each time until one gives up.

Females are sexually mature at 6 months and males are ready to reproduce at the age of 12 months. The female gestates for 169 to 174 days and bears a single offspring. This happens twice a year(at the start and finish of the rainy season). Unlike other ruminants, The Dik-dik is born with its forelegs laid back along-side its body, instead of them being stretched forward. Females weigh approximately 560 to 680 grams at birth, while males weigh 725 to 795 grams. The mother lactates for 6 weeks, feeding her fawn for no longer than a couple of minutes at a time. The survival rate for young Dik-diks is 50 percent. The young stay concealed for a time after birth, but grow quickly and reach full size by the age of 7 months. At that age the young are forced to leave their parents territory. The father run the sons off the territory and the mothers run off the daughters. [6]

Predators

Dik-diks are hunted primarily by monitor lizards, smaller cats such as the caracal, as well as lions, hyenas, wild dogs, and humans. The dik-dik's main predators are leopards, cheetahs, jackals, baboons, eagles and pythons. They are able to escape them with their excellent eyesight and ability to reach speeds up to 42 kilometers (26 miles) an hour.[7]

Classification

There are four species of dik-dik:

Gallery

References

  1. ^ Dik-Dik." International Wildlife Encyclopedia. 3rd. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Print.
  2. ^ "Savanna." Blue Planet Biomes. 11/7/06. Brynn Schaffner and Kenneth Robinson, Web. 9 Feb 2010.<http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/savanna.htm>.
  3. ^ "The Living Afridca: Wildlife Bovid Family." Web. 4 Feb 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/16645/wildlife/dik-dik.shtml>.
  4. ^ "Weather and Climate in Angola." South Travels. 2/9/10. Copyright © SouthTravels.com, Web. 9 Feb 2010.<http://www.southtravels.com/africa/angola/weather.html>.
  5. ^ "African Wildlife Foundation: Dikdik." Web. 4 Feb 2010. <http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/dikdik>.
  6. ^ Scheibe, E. 1999. "Madoqua kirkii." Animal Diversity Web. 27 Jan 2010. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Web. 29 Jan 2010.
  7. ^ "The Living Afridca: Wildlife Bovid Family." Web. 4 Feb 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/16645/wildlife/dik-dik.shtml>.
  8. ^ Scheibe, E. 1999. "Madoqua kirkii." Animal Diversity Web. 27 Jan 2010. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Web. 29 Jan 2010.
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