NAIROBI PARK DIARY

A Suni sighting

In Summary

• They are very shy and sensitive, and it is rare to get close to them; I mostly watch them through binoculars.

• They vary in colour from fawn grey to chestnut brown on the back with white underneath.

Suni with a tiny baby
Suni with a tiny baby
Image: GARETH JONES

A while ago, while driving on the tar road towards the main gate in the late afternoon, I saw a tiny antelope eating next to the road.

It was a tiny Suni, only found in the forested section, mostly seen if driving very slowly in the early morning or late afternoon, when they feed on green shoots and leaves. They are very shy and sensitive, and it is rare to get close to them; I mostly watch them through binoculars.

The Suni suddenly ran across the road and went into a thick clump of bushes. I looked and could scarcely believe my eyes. A tiny, minute little lamb was trying to stand up and suckle its mother.

Wow! What a super Suni sighting, a mega tick on my all-time sightings in the park. The lamb could not have been more than an hour or two old. The mother was trying to force it to walk, as she slowly moved away every time the lamb tried to stand and walk on its wobbly newborn legs. There is always something very precious and special about witnessing the start of a new life.

Suni are often mistaken for dik-dik. The tiny antelope seen in the forest area are Suni (Neotragus moschatu), also known as “Paa” in Kiswahili. Even smaller than dik-dik, they are the smallest antelope in the park. They vary in colour from fawn grey to chestnut brown on the back with white underneath.

Over many years, I have rarely seen Kirk’s dik-dik actually inside the park in the Athi basin, and also near Maasai gate in the Silole sanctuary.

Next time you drive through the forest, be on the lookout for the special Suni antelope.