Abbott’s duiker is an Endangered antelope found only in a handful of highland forests in Tanzania. Wild Planet Trust has been supporting and carrying out research and monitoring projects for this rare species and other antelope in the Udzungwa Mountains since 2005.
Given the difficulty of studying rare and shy species such as duikers, Wild Planet Trust has focused on improving knowledge of species distribution and habitat requirements through the application of new wildlife surveillance methods such as camera-trapping and non-invasive genetic sampling. This research has led to scientific publications modelling habitat-use for forest antelope using camera-trap data, testing the accuracy of species identity in dung count surveys and developing a DNA-based method for identifying duiker samples from across Africa. New records have confirmed the survival of Abbott’s duiker in heavily-hunted forests in the Udzungwa Mountains including Kising’a-Rugaro and Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserves. However, research has also revealed low genetic diversity for this species relative to other forest antelope.
Operating conservation research projects in remote locations and developing new survey methods would not be possible without collaboration with many partners. Wild Planet Trust relies on its partners in Tanzania for sample collection and logistical support, including the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program, Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre, and MUSE Science Museum. Technical guidance and laboratory facilities for this project have been provided by the universities of Exeter, Stellenbosch and New Orleans.