Lions, hippos and zebras are all classic animals that can be found in Africa, but travelers on IE’s East Africa wildlife safaris have the opportunity to glimpse some creatures that are less well known and quite unique. One example is the dik dik, a small creature that resembles a miniature deer or antelope.
Though it's not known for sure how the dik dik got its name, some speculate that it comes from a sound the animal makes when it exhales through its nose. This noise, produced mainly by females, serves as a warning call when there is danger nearby. The dik dik’s call actually serves as an alarm for larger animals as well, and the American Wildlife Foundation reports that dik diks are intelligent enough to interpret the warning calls of other animals as signs of danger.
Travelers will have to look closely for dik diks, as they are only slightly larger than the African hare, and blend in well with the brown and yellow plains. In fact, when they sense trouble nearby, dik diks prefer to hide, rather than flee.
The dik diks can also be identified by a white ring that surrounds their large, dark eyes. These eyes have a gland that secretes a sticky fluid, allowing dik diks to mark their territory. Dik diks do not travel in herds, like many four-legged mammals of Africa, but instead form monogamous pairs. These couples will have one offspring at a time, and the young dik dik will often remain with its parents until another is born. At this point, the adults will chase off the older sibling, who will eventually find its own mate.
Dik diks are herbivores who have adapted to their dry environment, and have some incredible coping mechanisms. For starters, the shoots, berries and leaves the animals eat contain water, which means they can survive for quite some time without drinking from a pool or stream. They are primarily nocturnal, allowing them to avoid diurnal predators and the harsh heat of African days.
There are four different species of dik dik, all of which live exclusively in the grasslands of Africa. While travelers likely won't be able to see these animals in action at night, during a daytime wildlife safari, they may be able to glimpse this miniature creature snoozing among the grasses of the plains.
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