While being with one person is the going thing in our society, it’s actually rare for mammals to do so. In the wild less than 3% of mammals are monogamous –bonding and mating with a single partner.
The fact that the dik-dik does this, is just that little bit odd.
Found in East and South West Africa, dik-diks are pretty funny looking things. They’ve got these elongated, prehensile noses that condense water and help them stay cool in extremely hot temperatures. They also have two big dark eye spots below their eyes, which are actually glands producing a secretion they use to mark their territories with.
Stranger still though, are the partnerships dik-diks form.
Animals are usually monogamous because the female needs help raising the young or because males don’t have the opportunity to mate with more females. This less romantic idea that males would have many partners if they could, was originally thought to explain monogamy in the dik-dik, but studies have shown this isn’t the case.
Instead the bond between them appears much deeper.
When male dik-dik’s had the scent of other females placed in their territories those already paired off wouldn’t leave, staying with their female. It was only the unpaired males that left to investigate, no doubt looking for a lady of their own.
So it appears male dik-diks stay loyal to their female, even in the face of temptation. Thankfully for the female dik-diks, they can sleep easy knowing their man isn’t out with some other antelope.
Kamau, J., Maina, J., & Maloiy, G. (1984) The design and the role of the nasal passages in temperature regulation in the dik-dik antilope (Rhynchotragus kirki) with observations on the carotid rete. Respiration Physiology, 56(2), 183-194. Retrieved via Science Direct
Komers, P. (1996). Obligate monogamy without paternal care in Kirk’s dik-dik. Animal Behaviour, 51(1), 131-140. Retrieved via Science Direct
Kranz, K. (1991). Monogamy in the dik-dik. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 29(4), 87-105. Retrieved via Science Direct