New Trip Report: Abbott’s Duiker in Tanzania

  1. Ralf Bürglin 3 months ago

    Very cool! But as I read your report, it seems that it is just one individual. Or could there be more? – which would certainly boost the chances of seeing one. The Abbott’s Duiker is said to be nocturnal. Maybe looking at night is also a possibility to enhance your chances of seeing one. And what does attract the animal/s to the open area anyway? Forage?

  2. Antee 3 months ago

    Nice find!

  3. Charles Foley 3 months ago

    Hi Ralf,

    Yes I think the animal that I saw and which Shaban had photographed previously is the same individual. This one comes to feed on the shrubs that grow in the open area around the ranger post. The rangers get moved around quite frequently, so I could not figure out how long that particular individual had been coming, but one of the rangers said he’d seen an Abbott’s in the area about 5 years ago. I know of at least two other people who have seen Abbott’s along the trail up to the hut, with one sighting taking place about 10 years ago, so there are certainly others around. The thing is there are few open areas along the trail where one is likely to be able to see a duiker (they would be hard to find in the thick vegetation which borders most of the trail), although you would certainly increase your chances of seeing one if you climbed either early morning or late afternoon, when all of the hikers/porters are no longer on the trail.

    This duiker also hung around the ranger post at night, once the climbers had gone to sleep. Whether the duiker is mainly nocturnal is an interesting question. Many of the other large duiker species are frequently seen during the day. Until recently the Abbott’s duiker was only found in areas that were either unprotected or had very little protection, and that might have influenced their behaviour. The forests around Kilimanjaro for instance were only incorporated into the National Park in 2005, and before then there was heavy poaching in the area. Our camera trap surveys have shown that predominantly diurnal species become increasingly nocturnal in areas with high human disturbance, and this might be the case with the duiker as well. I suspect there will be increasing numbers of sightings along some of the Kilimanjaro climbing trails as the animals realise that the humans there pose little threat to them.

    However, all that said, given the presence of stray dogs in the Machame area, if you are thinking of looking for the animal I would go sooner rather than later.

    • Ralf Bürglin 3 months ago

      Thank you very much Charles. Very interesting. Cheers, Ralf

  4. Andrew Block 3 months ago

    What a great animal to see! Would love to see one. Been up Mt. Kenya, but never up Kilimanjaro. Wonder if I could do it:-) I think you seeing this was like me seeing the Steller’s Sea-Eagle in my own back yard in Maine, so to speak, recently. One of my top five most wanted birds:-)


    • Charles Foley 3 months ago

      From what people tell me, climbing Kilimanjaro is not that difficult if you do it in 6 days. Shaban told me he’d guided an 85 year old up to the top. It’s just 5 days of cold and misery, but I suppose that’s probably the same with all mountain climbing.

      Seeing a Sea-Eagle in your garden in Maine is pretty phenomenal. An honorary mammal that one!


  5. tomeslice 3 months ago

    What an exciting trip report, Charles!

    How amazing is it when you have been searching for such an elusive creature for so long, and then it just appears in a clearing and hangs out, undisturbed by the noises!

    I think this was my kind of feeling when I first saw the jaguar, which I had wanted to see for several years prior (before I knew about, and I always thought I must walk silently through the forests. I did this in Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala and the Iguazu area… until finally I was on a boat in Brazil, a few meters away from a very relaxed jaguar, who couldn’t care less about our presence. Such an elated feeling 🙂

    Congrats again!

    • Charles Foley 3 months ago

      Yes, those are the mammal sightings that really stand out aren’t they. If it’s easy to find, it just doesn’t have the same impact.

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