• By Claire Trickett
  • 02 November 2017

Saving Africa’s rarest antelope

A recent translocation will help pay it forward for the conservation of the Aders’ duiker…

From the largest, fastest and scaliest mammals on the African continent, right down to some of its tiniest amphibians, flightless birds and smallest antelopes, more and more African species are sadly joining the endangered list. A forever growing list that no one wants to be on.

For more than 25 years, our core company ethos here at &Beyond has remained resolute: Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. As a global leading conservation company, we now positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land and 2 000 kilometres of coastline, with the prime goal of helping to conserve this land (and water), as well as its inhabitants, for future generations.

With countless conservation victories under our belt, we continue to look for ways in which we can make a meaningful difference to our planet, from helping to reverse a 15-year local extinction of lion in Rwanda and moving 100 rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa, to providing a safe haven for endangered green sea turtles and taking our proven conservation model all the way to Argentina for the reintroduction of jaguar to the Iberá Wetlands.

Lion translocation image © African Parks.

One of our most recent conservation success stories is our Aders’ duiker breeding programme on &Beyond Mnemba Island, an exclusive private island and barefoot beach paradise situated just off the shores of Zanzibar.

Known as Africa’s rarest antelope, it is estimated that there are only between 300 and 600 Aders’ duiker left in the wild. Back in 2005, we successfully introduced five of these tiny (approximately 8 to 12 kg) antelopes onto the island, where they now thrive with a population of 35.

With no natural predators and a constant and plentiful food supply, the duikers have thrived and bred extremely well in their island paradise. Can you blame them?! As a direct result of this success and at the request of the Minister of Natural Resources and Fisheries in Zanzibar, four Aders’ duiker were recently translocated from &Beyond Mnemba Island to a brand new breeding site on the island of Zanzibar where they can now form a new breeding population.

A team of wildlife and conservation experts was assembled on Mnemba Island for the translocation, including representatives from Zanzibar’s Department of Natural Resources, as well as famed Dr Dave Cooper, Head Veterinarian for the Provincial Conservations Department in South Africa, and Les Carlisle, &Beyond Group Conservation Manager. The carefully planned translocation techniques used were influenced by prior research carried out by University of South Africa researcher Lorraine Raby, who had collared a number of the small antelopes to collect information on their diet and behaviour in an effort to help further improve the outcome of the breeding programme.

Darting the duiker was proven to be the most stress-free method of capture and was therefore chosen for the translocation. The required equipment and drugs were provided by &Beyond and, given just how critical the actual tranquiliser dart location on the small animal is, the expert skills of Dr Dave Cooper were called upon to safely and precisely dart the four duikers.

Upon being darted, of course, the miniature and characteristically skittish antelopes scattered off into Mnemba’s dense forest foliage, so the team had to act fast to quickly track and blindfold each duiker and gently carry them back to the loading area. The darts were then safely removed, the small dart wounds treated and a sedative administered to calm the duiker before the antidote to the immobilisation drug was administered. Once all four of the Aders’ duiker were successfully crated, the crates were taken by boat from Mnemba to the main island of Zanzibar. The last leg of the duiker’s trip to their new home was by vehicle.

This historic translocation process, which marks the first time that Aders’ duiker has been moved from Mnemba Island, will help bolster a brand new population of the endangered antelope on Zanzibar, while also ensuring that the number of animals on Mnemba does not exceed the resources available on the island. It is estimated that roughly 30 duikers remain on the island and, should the animals continue to breed at their current rate, we will aim to translocate 10 to 12 of these little antelope every year. A great win for conservation.


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