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Forest antelope surveys

Forest antelope surveys in Tanzania

Abbott’s duiker is an endangered antelope found only in a handful of highland forests in Tanzania. Wild Planet Trust has been carrying out and supporting research and monitoring projects for this rare species and other antelope in the Udzungwa Mountains since 2005.


Given the difficulty of studying rare and shy species such as duikers, Wild Planet Trust has focused on improving knowledge of species distribution and habitat requirements through the application of modern wildlife surveillance methods such as camera-trapping and non-invasive genetic sampling. This research has led to scientific publications modelling habitat use for forest antelope using camera-trap data, testing the accuracy of species identity in dung count surveys and developing a DNA-based method for identifying duiker samples from across Africa.

New records have confirmed the survival of Abbott’s duiker in heavily-hunted forests in the Udzungwa Mountains including Kising’a-Rugaro and Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserves. However, research has also revealed low genetic diversity for this species relative to other forest antelope.


Bowkett, A.E., Jones, T., Rovero, F. Nielsen, M.R., Plowman, A.B., Stevens, J.R. (2015). Genetic patterns in forest antelope populations in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania, as inferred from non-invasive sampling. Journal of East African Natural History 104: 91–125.

Bowkett, A.E., Jones, T., Rovero, F., Nielsen, M.R., Davenport, T.R.B., Hawkins, D., Plowman, A.B., Stevens, J.R. (2014). Distribution and genetic diversity of the endangered Abbott’s duiker Cephalophus spadix in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Endangered Species Research 24: 105–114.

Bowkett, A.E., Jones, T., Laizzer, R.L., Plowman, A.B. and Stevens, J.R. (2013). Can molecular data validate morphometric identification of faecal pellets in Tanzanian forest antelope species? Conservation Genetics Resources 5: 1095–1100.

Ntie, S., Johnston, A.R., Mickala, P., Bowkett, A.E. et al. (2010). A molecular diagnostic for identifying Central African forest artiodactyls from faecal pellets. Animal Conservation 13: 80–93.