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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Understanding the extinction risk of duiker populations

Duikers are under severe and escalating threat from unregulated bushmeat trade. Using existing data, We will develop an understanding of the trade’s impact on duiker populations. Working closely with the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, the results will inform IUCN Red List reassessments and future conservation action.


Duikers are small to medium-sized African forest antelope consisting of 19 species in 3 genera. All the species in this tribe are thought to be under severe and escalating threat from the unregulated bushmeat trade. Duikers are easy to capture with nets, snares and dogs and all species and sub-species are thought to have declining populations (Kingdon & Hoffmann, 2013). Seven of the taxa are listed under a threatened category on the IUCN Red List, with an additional four taxa listed as Near Threatened. The remaining are currently considered to be Least Concern, with the exception of Walter’s duiker, which is Data Deficient. The escalating threats to duiker populations are likely to increase the probability of extinction in the future. Despite this, good quality data are currently difficult to find to evaluate the extinction risk faced by these species. As Dr Andy Bowkett of Whitely Wildlife Conservation Trust observed, "Given that bushmeat feeds millions of people, and represents millions of dollars in trade, it seems strange that society has invested comparatively little in understanding the species that make-up such a large component of this natural resource." This research project will begin to address this.

A substantial body of literature exists on the bushmeat trade, but duikers are often not the main subject. Despite this, the papers often contain data on the presence of duikers in bushmeat markets. This project aims to assess the impact of the bushmeat trade on duiker populations by evaluating records and by-catch data. The results of this will help inform the next tranche of IUCN/SSC Red List reassessments and conservation action.

This project will be largely desk-based in the UK but the candidate will be required to work with IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group members to achieve project objectives. Attendance of an international conference is included in the costs.

Kingdon, J. & Hoffmann, M. (Eds.) (2013) Mammals of Africa. Volume VI: pigs, hippopotamuses, chevrotain, giraffes, deer and bovids. Bloomsbury, London.

Project available (Band A or B)

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