Forest antelopes are widespread in the Volcanoes National Park. These shy, secretive and elusive animals usually hide in the dense vegetation to come out at night, but it is not unusual to encounter one of them during a gorilla visit or a hike in the park. They do not gather in large groups or herds like other antelopes species living in the open plains of East Africa do on a contrary, they live alone or in pairs. Footprints of antelopes can be seen almost everywhere in the mud on the trails in the forest. Two species present, the bushbuck and the black –fronted duiker.
The bushbuck is an antelope that has a wide geographical distribution in Africa South of the Sahara. The species is typical for forest environments but also lives in gallery forest, mixed woodlands and patches of dense bush in more open landscapes. It is an elegant, medium-size antelope with a light to dark brown coat and more or less developed white stripes. Usually, only males bear horns. Both males and females bushbucks occupy their own territory, on which they live a sedentary life. In the Volcanoes National Park, bushbucks are most common in the forest at the lower altitudes, but they can also be found in the subalpine zone. It is much more common to hear the typical barking of a bushbuck (its alarm call) than to see one.
Duikers are typical African forest antelopes that are usually smaller. About 20 species have been described, most of them present in West and central Africa. Their name comes from the Dutch duiken, which means to drive. It was given due to their habitat of “diving” in the vegetation when they feel threatened. The black-fronted duiker is of a much smaller size than the bushbuck. It is a typical duiker antelope with a curved back and smaller horns (both sexes bear horns), a short tail and short hair. As the name implies, the Black-Fronted duiker has a large patch of black hair on the forehead. Black –fronted duikers live in singles or pairs in the Volcanoes National Park. They are typical for the forest and dense bush, but are present at higher altitudes. Duikers have been observed near the 4000 metres limit.
A third species of antelopes, the Yellow –blacked duiker, is still mentioned on the official mammal list of the park, although it has not been sighted or recorded for a long time. It is a massive duiker antelope with a dark fur crossed a wide yellowish stripe all along the back.