As well as being the world’s smallest antelope, royal antelopes take the title for world’s smallest ungulate (hoofed mammals) and the world’s smallest ruminant (mammals that ferment their food in specialised stomachs, like cows). Being so small requires the royal antelope to be incredibly alert – they use their slender legs to sprint into the safety of cover as soon as they sense danger.
For this reason, royal antelopes prefer to live in dense shrublands and forests in their native home of West Africa. These habitats provide the vulnerable animals with plenty of places to hide, while also being rich in the foliage, fruits and fungi that they feed on.
Habitat deterioration and hunting for bushmeat are two of the most significant threats faced by royal antelopes. Luckily, there are several protected areas where these animals thrive – sanctuaries like the Tai National Park in Cote d’Ivoire and Assin-Attandanso Game Production Reserve in Ghana help to safeguard the future of the species.
Body length: 400mm (16in).
Shoulder height: 250mm (10in).
Comparison: The size of a chessboard.