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Antelope: Suni

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DuQues
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Antelope: Suni

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:09 pm

Suni antelope (Neotragus moschatus) - Africa's smallest antelope

Classification:
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus:Neotragus

Other names:
Afrikaans: Suni
French: Suni
German: Suni
Dutch: Suni
Portuguese: Suni

General Characteristics
Body Length: 57-62 cm
Shoulder Height: 33-38 cm
Tail Length: 8-13 cm
Weight: 4-6 kg

The general coat colour is reddish brown, with the back darker than the flanks and legs, and the head and muzzle reddish. The underparts, including the chin, throat, and insides of the legs, are white. There is a lighter ring around the eye. The legs are ringed with a black band just above the hooves. The wideset, black-coloured horns, borne only by males, are ridged for most of their length, and grow 6.5-13.3 cm long, slanting back in line with the face. The females are slightly larger and heavier than the males.

Gestation Period: About 6 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: About 2 months.
Sexual Maturity: 1-1.5 years.
Life span: Up to 10 years.
Most births occur from November to March. Slightly darker than adults, the young are kept hidden.

Habitat and activity
Dry woodland with thickets and underbrush, coastal forest and thickets, and riparian scrub and dry scrub along drainage areas are typical habitat types for suni antelope.
The suni is primarily active during the evening and night, sleeping the rest of the day in a shady, sheltered area. These shy antelope have excellent camouflage, which they use to their advantage. When danger starts to approach, the suni freezes, remaining hidden until the threat is nearly on top of them, at which point it leaps up and dodges around bushes and shrubs, quickly vanishing into the undergrowth.
Males defend territories of about 3 hectares, scent-marking the boundaries with preorbital gland secretions. On the peripheries of each defended area may be individual or communal dung piles. Each male generally associates with a single female, even if several others share his territory. Weak barking and sharp whistling have been reported.

Social Organization
Sightings of suni usually reveal solitary animals, pairs, or family groups consisting of a pair of animals and their offspring. They are generally thought to be monogamous animals.

Diet
Suni are browsers and feed on both fresh and fallen leaves as well as fallen and growing fruits of trees and shrubs. It is thought that suni are independent of drinking water and can obtain all necessary moisture from the food that they eat.

Enemies
All predators the size of the suni and up, including cats, birds of prey and snakes.

Zoo Programs
Suni have bred well in captivity but the original number of founders was limited, causing the genetic diversity of the captive population to be low. In 1988, studies on assisted reproduction in suni led to the first successful embryo transfer of this species. Captive breeding of suni antelope is also being done in South Africa at Tygerpark Zoo in Capetown.

Conservation
Efforts are being made in Zanzibar to protect the suni and other small antelope species. A release of captive-bred suni in South Africa was conducted at Kruger National Park. The most recent estimate on the total number of wild animals was 365,000 with the population considered to be stable although threatened in some regions.
Last edited by DuQues on Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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arks
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Unread post by arks » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:29 pm

Mark, I maybe saw one in April, on the Dzundzwini Loop near Punda Maria. It was definitely a very, very small antelope, a lot smaller than, say, a steenbok, but I saw it only for a few seconds as it dashed off the road and into thick cover, so I really can't be 100% positive it was a suni, altho since it was so small, I'm fairly certain.
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MarkWildDog
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Unread post by MarkWildDog » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:50 am

Christo, they are'nt foundd in the Pafuri area, you must have seen a Steenbok or something :wink:

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arks
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Unread post by arks » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:00 pm

Given that Parfuri isn't that far from Punda Maria, it is certainly possible, even if rare or even unlikely. After all, the animals don't know about where they are and aren't supposed to be, so if they should happen to move into an area where they are not (heretofor) found — voila! :wink: :lol:
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Unread post by christo » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:28 pm

All due respect MC, but I've been around long enough to know a steenbok when I see one.

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Unread post by Peter Betts » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:19 pm

Hi Arks Congratulations I think you can almost certainly say that you saw a Suni as the are around Punda but are more common I believe at Pafuri.... have a look at the Sharpe's Grysbok which is much bigger???
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christo
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Unread post by christo » Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:09 pm

No I've seen Grysbok a number of times over the years. I was also surprized at what I saw, but as the animal is so small and did not wait around for long, it was difficult to ID.

According to Frandsen in his book mammals of Southern Africa, suni does occur up to the Levhuvhu river, but is not spotted often.

Still dumbstruck, as it was neither steenbok, grysbok or baby duiker.
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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by Richprins » Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:49 pm

Harold Mockford had a tame Suni at his house at Pafuri in the 60s-70s (Not sure about the DATES), so they did occur there.

Attempts were made to reintroduce suni to the Park from KZN in the 80's, but they succumbed in their holding camp in Skukuza before being released.

I think a small Grysbok ewe would resemble a suni quite closely... :?

Suni have always been a marginal species in Kruger, and maybe no longer exist there, as their core populations in Mozambique may have been eaten during the civil war there!

Anyway, who knows! :D

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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by onewithnature » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:22 am

I'm 90% sure that, in August this year, my daughter and I saw a suni on the Mahonie Loop. It was definitely not a steenbok, nor a Sharpe's grysbok, including the juveniles. It was smaller than these and showed the characteristics and colour explained in mammal books. Unfortunately, we were so immobilised by the sight and prospect of what it most likely was, that, by the time I reached for my camera, the blighter calmly walked behind a giant mound.
We hung around for well over half-an-hour, slowly driving up and down to gt a pic, but it had disappeared without a trace. After more reflection, and eliminating contenders in that area, our only conclusion was that it must have been a suni!
We have since accepted it as one! 8) 8)
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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by garrow » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:22 am

Saw a suni and fawn cross road in front of car in one of the river beds on first gravel road which runs along the sabie river when you turn right after entering at kruger gate. This was many years ago

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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by Oryx » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:56 am

OWN, that could very well have been a Suni sighting. During the early 80`s a number of Suni were captured in KZN and eventually released in that area. The Mahonie loop would be the most likely place to see one.

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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by weesy » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:31 am

HI, am almost 100% certain of a suni sighting, on one of the loops just behind Berg n Dal, sorry have temporarily missplaced my maps, This would have been around 1996/7. Lived in Nelspruit and made so may day visits often and im ashamed now to say without a camera. I have always had a great facsination of all the little buck, have seen duiker, sharpes and steenbok. This though different and as per the books was a suni. Knew at the time something was different as so much smaller than the others but still deffinately an adult. Its one of my sightings i most regret not having a camera :cry: :cry: :wall:

Richprins

Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by Richprins » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:43 pm

Sorry, guys...no pic , no way! 8)

OWN, that reclusive behaviour is typical of Grysbok, and they can appear very small... :?

The Skukuza suni were in a holding camp in preperation for their move to other areas, and started dying so a couple were released/escaped.

Certainly not Berg&Dal!

Punda may have been an area for them in the old days, but now, who knows?

I'm sure they are extinct in Kruger, IMHO! :?

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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by onewithnature » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:36 pm

Richprins wrote:OWN, that reclusive behaviour is typical of Grysbok, and they can appear very small...

I'm sure they are extinct in Kruger, IMHO! :?


Thanks, Richprins, for the response. :thumbs_up: I considered Grysbok very carefully, but the coat was a fair amount more reddish and we could not see any grizzling on the back. I have seen Sharpe's many times and this looked quite a lot smaller. I also considered juvenile grysbok, but the descriptions in the reference books favoured Suni a lot more.
Unfortunately, just as I lifted my camera, it sneaked gently behind a hillock, never to emerge.

As to your latter statement about suni extinction in Kruger, chat to the owner of the shop and restaurant in Punda, and he will detail to you how he saw a suni and fawn frozen in his headlights one night while taking staff back to their homes. :cam:
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Re: Antelope: Suni

Unread post by garrow » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:47 pm

I saw a suni at 4.45am on the 31st december on the tar road about .75km from punda maria camp. The suni's eyes were reflecting off my car's headlights. This little suni was walking rapidly from bush to bush where it would stand still at the bush briefly before moving to the next bush. It definitely did not run from bush to bush. It definitely was not a steenbok, a sharpes grysbok or a common duiker as I have seen all of these on numerous occasions. This is my second sighting of suni, the first was many years ago on the sabie river near kruger gate.


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