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Rarely seen creatures of Africa – The Suni antelope

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A Suni ewe.
There are 72 different types of antelopes found on the continent of Africa and 21 of those are found in the Kruger, including the shy Suni.

The Suni is an adorable and rarely seen species of the antelope which stands at a tiny height of 30 t0 43 cm tall (12-17 inches). Being an elusive type of animal they are not commonly seen out and about in the wild, making it something special if you spot one.

Female suni are called ewes and are slightly larger than their counterparts, reaching 5.4 kig in weight compared to the 5kg average weight of the rams. They range in colour from light brown to a chestnut colour with a white chin, throat, tummy and inner legs. These charming antelopes have big roundish ears and the rams have horns.

Being so small they have a selection of predators such as eagles, lions and even humans who hunt them down in hunting season.
Habitat

Sunis’ live in dense shrub areas in the woodland parts where they feel most at home. They are found in the northern most part of the Kruger National Park, parks and reserves in the north of Kwa-Zulu Natal, and live in territories from Mozambique and further up the coast of south eastern Africa.
A Suni ram. 
Behaviour

These delicate antelopes are most active in the morning and in the evening avoiding the heat of the African sun during the midday hiding out in the shelter of trees and bushes. 

Their fur gives them great camouflage in their surroundings. When a threat is near-by, their escape method is to freeze keeping hidden and then leap away out of sight into nearby vegetation.

Rams each have a territory of up to 3 hectares, marking it using their scent glands and leaving piles of dung on the borders of their territory as a sign to other rams that the area is already taken. Each ram generally has one ewe they mate and graze with but happily share their territory with a couple of other females.
Diet

They feed off the ground eating freshly fallen leaves, fruits and flowers and munch on mushrooms. These antelopes eat mostly at dawn and dusk, sometimes grazing in pairs but are usually solitary animals. Sunis’ get a lot of moisture from what they eat and so they are not in need of access to a water supply.  
Suni baby and mother. How cute.
Reproduction

The ewes give birth to one fawn in spring after a gestation period of 6 months. The tiny fawn has a darker coat than their mother and are kept safely hidden out of danger.


The pre-orbital gland of a Suni.
Did you know?

They give off a pungent odour that is secreted from their pre-orbital glands, for which are the largest of all African antelopes relative to sizing. A pre-orbital gland is located on the side of the face with an opening just in front of the eyes that secrete a scent.

They communicate through smells and have been known to make bark-like sounds and sharp whistling.

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