Suni

Suni.


Appearance

This petite antelope stands only 350mm at the shoulders, and rams weigh only 5 kg. Ewes are slightly larger and weighs 5.4 Kg. Light-brown to chestnut coat, fading slightly at the flanks. White underparts and inner legs. They have broad, rounded ears, ashy-grey on the outside and pink inside. Only the rams grow horns, which are short, straight, heavily ridged and smooth tipped. Of all African antelope, this species has the largest pre-orbital scent glands relative to body size.

Diet

Sunis feed on the forest floor, mostly at dawn and dusk. It takes freshly fallen leaves, fruits and flowers dislodged from trees.

Breeding

They have a gestation period of about 6 months. Ewe's give birth to a single fawn in summer. Newborn are hidden in thick bush and mothers return to suckle and groom them. Most births occur from November to March. New born are slightly darker than adults.

Behaviour

Apart from being a very shy antelope, they are also rare. The Suni is primarily active during the evening and night, sleeping the rest of the day in a shady, sheltered area. These shy antelope have excellent camouflage, which they use to their advantage. When danger starts to approach, the Suni freezes, remaining hidden until the threat is nearly on top of them, at which point it leaps up and dodges around bushes and shrubs, quickly vanishing into the undergrowth. Males defend territories of about 3 hectares, scent-marking the boundaries with preorbital gland secretions. On the peripheries of each defended area may be individual or communal dung piles. Each male generally associates with a single female, even if several others share his territory. Weak barking and sharp whistling have been reported.

Habitat

This tiny animal has retiring habits and are not often seen. Inhabits forests with a dense understory, as well as shrub and low ground cover.

Where they are found

In South Africa the distribution is restricted to the northern parts of the Kruger National Park, reserves and game farms in northeastern KwaZulu-Natal, from where it ranges to coastal Mozambique.

Predators

The young are heavily preyed upon by the crowned Eagle and Python.



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