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Meet the Tsavo East dik-diks, the tiny antelopes that commit suicide when their partner dies

In Summary

  • Dik-diks live in shrublands and savannas of eastern Africa.
  • Dik-diks’ adaptations to predation include excellent eyesight and the ability to reach speeds up to 42 km/h (26 mph).

When you take a game drive at the Tsavo East National Park, you are bound to come across a tiny antelope with a rather embarrassing name, the dik-dik.

Unlike most antelopes which live in herds, dik-diks live in pairs. They look for that special partner and mate for life. Due to their ‘love’ for each other, when one dies the other goes to an extent of even committing suicide.

“This is a perfect example of what human beings should do.” says Wilson Njue, the warden in charge of the “Theater of the World” – as he calls the park. The lifelong commitment of the dik-dik lasts about four years in the wild because of their vulnerability to predators.

“Dik-diks have a funy story. They are always in couples unless wakati wamepata mtoto. They love each other very much to the extent of one committing suicide in the event that his or her partner dies either naturally or killed by prey.

“From what we gather, they can deliberately take themselves to a carnivore to be eaten because of sadness,” the warden says.

Wilson Njue, warden in charge at the Tsavo East National Park. PHOTO/TV47
Fun facts about the dik-dik

This species of the antelope is probably smaller than your pet dog as it stands at about 30-40 centimeters and weigh about 3-6 kilograms.

Fathers run off their male offspring from their territory when they reach adult size and mothers do the same to the female offspring.

Dik-diks also excrete the most concentrated urine and driest poop of any hooved animal.

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