Yellow-backed duiker

(Cephalophus silvicultor)


Yellow-backed duiker IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Yellow-backed Duiker is the largest duiker with a massive body and slender legs. It possesses a characteristic triangular yellow central patch on the back. Head-body length ranges from 115 to 145 cm, the shoulder height from 65 to 84 cm, the body-weight is 45-80 kg. The tail is short, about 11-20 cm, and thin, with a small black tuft.

The eyes and ears are small. The suborbital glands below the eyes are very conspicuous. The muzzle is light grey in colour, and the lips are white. Both sexes have faintly ridged, wedge-shaped horns which grow 8.5-21 cm long and curve down slightly at the tips.

The coat is short and glossy, dark velvety brown to black in colour. The sides of the face are very light greyish. The yellow hairs on the back are erectile.

Yellow-backed duikers live solitary or in pairs. They are generally nocturnal, resting during the day in "forms" - regularly used beds found under fallen tree trunks, in root forms at the bases of trees, and in dense tangles, or on top of termite mounds. They are territorial, marking their territories with their maxillary glands.

Females become sexually mature at an age of 9-12 months, males at 12-18 months. After a gestation period of 7 months one single calf is born, rarely twins. , The newborns lie hidden for over a week, after which they begin to venture out. They are weaned by 5 months of age.

Yellow-backed duikers are predominantly browsers feeding on leaves, berries, fruit, seeds, fungi, and grasses. On occasion they may eat also animal protein, such as insects, lizards, birds and rodents.

Did you know?
that, after birth, a newborn yellow-backed duiker lies hidden for over a week, after which it begins to venture out and nibble vegetation?


Name (Scientific) Cephalophus silvicultor
Name (English) Yellow-backed duiker
Name (French) Céphalophe à dos jaune, Céphalophe géant
Name (German) Gelbrückenducker
Name (Spanish) Cefalofo silvicultor, Duiquero de lomo amarillo
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by



Range Western Central Africa
Habitat Forests with heavy undergrowth
Wild population 160.000 (1999) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 81 (45.35.1) registered by the International Studbook (January 2009), held in 32 institutions.

In the Zoo

Yellow-backed duiker


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Alex Sliwa

Why do zoos keep this animal

The yellow-backed duiker is a characteristic representative of the Cephalophinae subfamily which are not very common in zoos. This is a forest-dwelling species and therefore an example of an animal, which is very much affected by forest destruction and bushmeat trade. Therefore, this species is kept mainly for educational purposes.

There is an International Studbook and North American zoos run a cooperative breeding programme.