Gazelles are fast-moving animals. They are swift in their movement while running. At high speeds, an adult gazelle can easily change its direction without losing momentum. Some gazelles can run at a speed as high as 97 kilometers/hour. In general, a gazelle can run at a sustained speed of 50 kilometers/hour.
Gazelles are comparably smaller than other animals in the antelope category. Their height ranges from 60-110 centimeters. They have a pale brown color like that of a fawn. The lower portion of a gazelle’s body is white in general. However, some have a long black mark in the adjoining section of their back and belly.
The male gazelles have long and curved horns. Gazelles show a special behavior when they are threatened by predators. In motion, they spring into the air, lifting all their feet off the ground simultaneously. It is called stotting. Tommies and springboks, two familiar species of antelope, exhibit this behavior.
Range & habitat
Gazelles generally live in the African deserts, grasslands, and savannas. You can also find them in the southwest, central Asia, and India.
Let’s have a look at some important gazelle species and know more about their range and habitat.
Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii)
Thomson’s gazelles or tommies are the best-known gazelles among all. After the name of the famous explorer Joseph Thomson, it is named. Tommies live in East Africa.
Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas)
Dorcas gazelles or ariel gazelles live in North and Saharan Africa, Sinai, and Israel. It is a small and common gazelle. Their habitat is the grasslands.
Chinkara or Indian gazelle (Gazella bennettii)
Chinkara or the Indian gazelles live in Iran, Pakistan, and India. They live in arid plains and hills, deserts, and light forests.
Rhim gazelle (Gazella leptoceros)
Rhim gazelles are also known as African sand gazelles. Their range of habitat is Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. They are found in desert areas and they are well-adapted to desert life.
Speke’s gazelle (Gazella spekei)
Speke’s gazelle is native to the Horn of Africa, a peninsula in Africa. These gazelles are the smallest of gazelle species. Their habitat is stony brush areas, grass steppes, and semi-deserts.
Red-fronted gazelle (Eudorcas rufifrons)
The habitat of Red-fronted gazelles ranges from the middle of Africa to northeastern Ethiopia, including Senegal. It is mainly native to the Sahel region of central Africa. They live in the arid grasslands, wooded savannas, and shrubby steppes.
Dama gazelle (Nanger dama)
Dama gazelles are also known as “addra gazelles” or “mhorr gazelles”. It is native to Africa and lives in the Sahara desert and the Sahel region. Dama gazelle is amongst the most endangered species in Africa.
Gazelles are herbivorous animals. They generally eat soft and easily digestible plants and leaves. They also eat small and medium-sized grass.
Some of the species also eat tall grasses. Gazelles are mainly grazers and some of them also browse leaves from trees and shrubs. In the rainy seasons, they prefer fresh leaves. During the dry seasons, they show browsing behavior and eat forbs, clovers, and bushes’ foliage.
Behavior & lifestyle
Gazelles, like other antelopes and herbivorous animals, live in herds. During the time of the year, when food is abundant they graze extensively. The herd spread out more and for establishing territories for breeding. The young male gazelles spend their time in the bachelor group. Adults prevent them from entering into the breeding zones. Female gazelles also form their group with the young gazelles and graze together.
Gazelles stick together due to threats from predators. It increases their chance of survival. However, an adult male leads the herd and marks its territory. They don’t enter the territory of other herds. If a male accidentally enters into another male’s territory, the leading male chases the intruder away.
Whatsoever, gazelles are calm animals. They try to maintain harmony inside their specific groups all the time. During the time of mating, some of the species perform rituals to attract females.
Fun gazelle facts
Let’s know about some interesting facts about the gazelles. Here is a list of “Top 5 Fun Gazelle Facts” that will definitely amaze you.
- Gazelles can increase their speed within seconds. Some species can accelerate their speed up to 97 km/h.
- Gazelles don’t shed their horns like some deers. Though they look like deers, they don’t show this feature.
- The people living in the countries of Northwestern Sub-Saharan Africa refer to gazelle as “dangelo”. It means a “swift deer”. They still believe it to be a kind of deer. In reality, it’s not.
- Many African families such as the Joof family (Senegambia region), Bagananoa (Botswana), and Eraraka clan (Uganda) treat gazelles as a totem or sacred object. They don’t kill or touch a gazelle.
- In Zootopia, a 2016 Disney film, the pop-star voiced by Shakira is actually Thomson’s gazelle.
Meet the gazelle
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- Walther, F. R. (1977). “Sex and Activity Dependency of Distances Between Thomson’s Gazelles (Gazella Thomsoni Gunther 1884)”. Animal Behaviour. 25 (3): 713–719. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(77)90120-8. S2CID 53181151.