Dik-diks take cover to hide from predators—human or otherwise

  • Spread the word


Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Males have small 3 inch horns
  • There are 5 recognized species
  • Reach speeds up to 42 km (26 mi) an hour

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Madoqua Kirkii


10 to 12 lb.


14 to 16 in. at the shoulder

Life span

3 to 4 years, 10 years in captivity


Dense forest to open plains




6 months


Humans, many small carnivores


Where do dik-diks live?

Dik-diks tend to live in habitats with good cover but without tall herbage. And, they move to different ranges when grass grows too high and obstructs their view. 

Tags: Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, East Africa, Southern Africa, Kazungula, Kilimanjaro, Samburu, Maasai Steppe View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are dik-diks?               

Kirk’s dik-diks are tiny antelopes that vary in color depending on their habitat. These animals have beautiful, large, dark eyes surrounded by a white ring. And while their eyes are stunning, they provide more than just sight. Preorbital glands appear as a black spot below the inside corner of each eye. These glands produce a dark, sticky secretion used to scent-mark their territories.

Dik-diks have also evolved a cooling mechanism within their snouts that stops them from overheating, even in extreme temperatures of up to 104°F. This also helps minimize their need for water. 

Behavior & Diet

Dik-diks survive by hiding.

Dik-diks have well-developed sight, scent, and hearing. When dik-diks feel they’re in danger or hear the alarm calls from other animals, they hide instead of fleeing from predators. And when frightened or disturbed, dik-diks make a whistling sound through the nose that sounds like “zik-zik,” and this is probably how they got their name.

Dik-diks mate for life and live together in low bush areas along dry, rocky stream beds. They are rarely seen apart from their partners. Mostly nocturnal, dik-diks avoid the heat of day; this also helps them prevent unnecessary water loss.

Thanks to an evolved cooling mechanism, dik-diks are water-independent.

The dik-dik eats foliage, shoots, fruit, and berries. Because of their body’s evolved cooling ability, they are water-independent, getting water from the vegetation they eat. 

  • Dikdik Mark Boulton
  • Dikdik Billy Dodson
  • Dikdik Billy Dodson
  • Dikdik AWF

Dik-diks don’t deserve to end up as jewelry or gloves.

People are the dik-diks’ biggest threat and have long hunted them, setting snares along their paths. Small bones from their legs and feet are used in traditional jewelry. Their skins are often made into suede for gloves.


Our solutions to protecting the dik-dik:

  • Provide support for creating conservation businesses.

    With the strategic support of African Wildlife Foundation, the Entonet/Elerai Massai community opened Satao Elerai, a luxury lodge situated on 5,000 acres of land in Southern Kenya. Revenue from the lodge is reinvested into supporting the community and conserving wildlife such as the dik-dik.

  • Equip staff.

    We are also equipping park staff, including wardens and rangers, with the technology they need to monitor the park and help protect these animals from threats.


Will you show dikdiks your support?

Dikdiks need you. With your help, AWF can work on projects like supporting conservation businesses in places where dikdiks live as well as helping park rangers and wardens with technology to monitor parks and keep the dikdiks safe from poachers. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure dikdiks never become an endangered species.

  • Mau Forest Peter Chira
    Mau Reforestation
    Planting trees in a critical forested ecosystem

    Kenya’s ecological health is in danger.

    The ecological health of the Mau Forest Complex in Kenya’s Rift Valley region is in imminent danger. Deforestation and...

    Read more
    All Projects

Get Involved

Become a member

Join African Wildlife Foundation as a member for just $25. Your partnership is vital to our mission to protect Africa’s most precious - and imperiled - creatures.

Join Now

  • Spread the word