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Animal Info - Dama Gazelle

(Other Names: 红瞪羚, 苍羚, 鹿羚, ダマガゼル, Addra Gazelle, Ariel, Damagazelle, Gazelle Dama, Mhorr Gazelle, Nanger, Red-necked Gazelle, Ril)

Gazella dama

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Dama Gazelle #1 (12 Kb JPEG) (Honolulu Zoo); Dama Gazelle #2 (70 Kb JPEG)

The dama gazelle weighs up to 85 kg (190 lb) and stands up to 108 cm (42") tall at the shoulder. It is found in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel.  While avoiding mountains and dunes, it favors stony plains and plateaus, inter-dunal depressions with shallow sandy soils, and undulating foothills and steppes.  The dama gazelle is highly drought resistant - most of its water is obtained from its plant food.  It browses on various desert shrubs and acacias, and it eats rough desert grasses in times of drought.  Dama gazelles move into the Sahara in the wet season and out of the Sahara (both to the north and to the south) to moister parts of their range for the dry season.  The social organization of dama gazelles is greatly affected by the seasons. Herds typically spend the dry season in the Sahel where they occur singly or in mixed groups of 10 - 15. With the onset of the rainy season, they migrate into the desert and can be found in aggregations which, in the past, included up to several hundred males and females.

The dama gazelle was once one of the most numerous and widespread of Saharan gazelles from Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania eastward to the Sudan. It experienced a significant decline during the 1950's through the 1970's. By the early 1980's it still occurred over the same general range but was extinct in most areas within its range, though perhaps still locally abundant in some places. Based on extensive field surveys conducted since 2001, the remnant populations are all known to be very small and extremely fragmented. The only population centers are Manga (Chad), Termit (Niger), Eastern Air (Niger), and Tamesna (Mali/Niger border area). The populations are all less than 100 and are widely separated. 

Hunting has been the major cause of the decline of the dama gazelle, especially after motorized hunting with modern firearms began. Recently, the dama gazelle's habitat has become increasingly drier and less suitable, due to long-term climate change as well as to overgrazing by livestock and loss of tree cover due to clearing by man. Furthermore, the increasing presence of livestock has driven the gazelle away from the pastures where it formerly obtained both food and water.  Civil unrest in the area where it resides has also contributed to its decline.


Tidbits

*** The dama gazelle is the largest gazelle.

*** There are approximately 200 dama gazelles in captivity which are being managed under the North American Species Survival Plan.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Dama Gazelle Is Currently Found:

2006: Occurs in Algeria, Chad, Mali, Niger, Senegal (re-introduced populations) and Sudan.  May occur in Cameroon and Gambia. May be extinct in Nigeria and Tunisia. (IUCN 2006)  

Taxonomy:

For most species of antelopes in the area where the dama gazelle is found, the validity and precise distribution of many proposed subspecies are uncertain. Therefore, recent studies have restricted themselves to assessing the status of antelopes at the species level (e.g. Mallon & Kingswood 2001)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The dama gazelle was once one of the most numerous and widespread of Saharan gazelles from Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania eastward to the Sudan. It experienced a significant decline during the 1950's through the 1970's. By the early 1980's it still occurred over the same general range but was extinct in most areas within its range, though perhaps still locally abundant in some places. 

Extensive field surveys have been conducted since 2001. The known remnant populations are all very small and extremely fragmented. The only known population centers of any size are Manga (Chad), Termit (Niger), Eastern Air (Niger), and Tamesna (Mali/Niger border area). The populations are certainly less than 100 in all cases and are widely separated. Otherwise, there have been a few sightings of 1 - 2 animals. (IUCN 2006)

Distribution Map (16 Kb GIF) (African Mammals Databank 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Hunting has been the major cause of the decline of the dama gazelle, especially after motorized hunting with modern firearms began. Recently, the dama gazelle's habitat has become increasingly drier and less suitable, due to long-term climate change as well as to overgrazing by livestock and loss of tree cover due to clearing by man. Furthermore, the increasing presence of livestock has driven the gazelle away from the pastures where it formerly obtained both food and water.  Civil unrest in the area where it resides has also contributed to its decline.

Current threats include uncontrolled hunting as well as habitat loss and degradation due to overgrazing by domestic livestock. The impact of prolonged drought on pasture quality and of expanded livestock rearing due to well construction in preferred gazelle habitats also constitute threats. (IUCN 2006)

 


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The dama gazelle weighs 40 - 85 kg (90 - 190 lb).  It stands 88 - 108 cm (34- 42") at the shoulder.

Habitat:

The dama gazelle is found in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel.  It favors stony plains and plateaus, often around the edges of hills;  inter-dunal depressions with shallow sandy soils; and undulating foothills.  It avoids mountains and dunes.  (Spinage 1986, East 1990, Mallon & Kingswood 2001, AZA Antelope TAG) 

Age to Maturity:

Females: 1.5 - 2 years; Males: 1 year. (captivity) (Mallon & Kingswood 2001, AZA Antelope TAG) 

Gestation Period:

Approximately 5.5 - 6 months (AZA Antelope TAG).

Birth Season:

In Western Sahara, births occur in February - March. In the central Sahara, calving occurs during winter.  (Mallon & Kingswood 2001)

In the wild, offspring are usually born from April through June.  In captivity, births occur year-round. (AZA Antelope TAG)

Birth Rate:

Usually a single calf is born.  Twinning is rare.

Early Development:

A newborn calf is hidden away from the herd, but a couple of days after birth, it is usually strong enough to follow its mother (AZA Antelope TAG).

Maximum Age:

In nature, dama gazelles live as long as 12 years.  In captivity, some have reached their late teens. (AZA Antelope TAG)

Diet:

The dama gazelle is a desert/semi-desert species and is drought resistant. Most of its water is obtained from its plant food.  It is both a browser and a grazer.  The dama gazelle browses on various desert shrubs and acacias, standing on its hind legs to reach higher leaves. In times of drought it also eats rough desert grasses.

Behavior:

Dama gazelles move into the Sahara in the wet season and out of the Sahara (both north and south) to moister parts of their range for the dry season.

Social Organization:

The social organization of dama gazelles is greatly affected by the seasons. Herds typically spend the dry season in the Sahel where they occur singly or in mixed groups of 10 - 15, composed of a dominant adult male, several adult females, and young. With the onset of the rainy season, they migrate into the desert, where, in the past, aggregations including males and females could include several hundred individuals. (Mallon & Kingswood 2001, AZA Antelope TAG)


References

African Mammals Databank 2004, AZA Antelope TAG, Burton & Pearson 1987, East 1990, Estes 1991, Honolulu Zoo, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2002, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Macdonald 1984, Mallon & Kingswood 2001, Newby 1980, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Spinage 1986, Stuart & Stuart 1996


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Last modified: February 13, 2007;

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