This dainty, compact little animal, the smallest African antelope, weighs 7 to 10 lb (3 to 4.5 kg) — not much more than a rabbit. Indeed, it is called “king of the hares” by local tribespeople and so “royal” antelope by Europeans. It has a rounded back and a short tail, which it holds tightly against its rump. The male has tiny, sharp horns, which the female lacks; young are darker in colour than adults.
Royal antelopes live in pairs or alone in a small territory, which they usually mark out with dung heaps. They are timid and secretive and are mainly active at night, when quite large numbers may feed together on leaves, buds, shoots, fungi, fallen fruit, grass and weeds. Royal Antelopes sometimes venture into vegetable plots and cocoa and peanut plantations. Although they are preyed on by a wide range of mammals, birds and even large snakes, their small size often enables them to slip away unseen from danger, with their bellies almost on the ground. Their vulnerability is also compensated for by their astounding ability to leap, like springboks, as much as 10 ft (3 m) up into the air.
Royal antelopes probably pair for life. The female produces a single young at a time.
Range: Africa: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cole d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea.
Habitat: Forest, forest clearings.
Size: Body: 13 3/4 - 16 in (35 - 41 cm); Tail: 2 - 24 1/4 in (5 - 6 cm).