Duikers are being classified in two groups due to their habitat: forest and bush duikers. The savannas of the Northern Cape Province is being occupied by the common grey duiker, also classified as a bush duiker. Duikers are very shy and likes dense cover and are quick to disappear into thickets for protection.
The common grey duiker has longer legs and vertical horns to allow them to run faster and for longer distances, and only the males has horns. The duiker also has very well developed pre-orbital glands which can be seen as slits under their eyes. Males use these glands to mark their territory. In the common grey duiker the females are distinctly larger than the males.
Duikers are known for their extreme shyness and will freeze at the slightest sign of a threat and they will hide in the closest bush. Although duikers’ are really shy they mark their territory with secretions from their pre-orbital gland and are very protective about their territories and will be very aggressive towards other duikers who invade their territory. Male common grey duikers also mark their territory by defecation.
For those duikers that travel alone, they choose to interact with other duikers once or twice a year, solely for the purpose of mating.
Duikers prefer to live alone or as pairs in order to avoid the competition that comes from living in a large group. They have also evolved to become highly selective feeders, feeding only on specific parts of plants.
Duikers are primarily browsers rather than grazers, eating leaves, seeds, fruit, They supplement their diets with meat: duikers consume insects and carrion from time to time and even manage to capture rodents or small birds. Since food is the deciding factor, various locations of food sources often dictate the distribution of duikers. While they feed on a wide range of plants, they choose to eat specific parts of the plant that are most nutritious. Therefore, in order to feed efficiently, they must be familiar with their territory and be thoroughly acquainted with the geography and distribution of specific plants. For such reasons, it is not easy for duikers to readjust to novel environments created by human settlements and deforestation.
Duikers live in an environment where even a subtle change in their life pattern can greatly impact the surrounding ecosystem. Two of the main factors that directly lead to duiker extinction are “habitat loss” and overexploitation. Constant urbanization and the process of “shifting agriculture” is gradually taking over many of duikers’ habitats; at the same time, overexploitation is also permitting the overgrowth of other interacting species, resulting in an inevitable disruption of coexistence.
Overexploitation of duikers affects their population as well as organisms that rely on them for survival. For instance, plants that depend on duikers for seed dispersal may lose their primary purpose of reproduction, and other organisms that depend on these particular plants as their resources would also be usurped of their major source of food.
Duikers are often captured for bushmeat. In fact, duikers are one of the most hunted animals “both in terms of number and biomass” in Central Africa. For example, in areas near the African rain forests, because people do not raise their own livestock, “bushmeat is what most people of all classes rely on as their source of protein”. For these people, if the trend of overexploitation continues at such a high rate, the effects of the population decrease in duikers will be too severe for these organisms to serve as a reliable food source.