Gazella gazella, or mountain gazelle, is one of several closely related species found in the Middle East. Its distribution includes the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; IUCN Species Survival Commission, 2000).
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
Their current range includes: Israel (widely distributed); Saudi Arabia (occurs on the Farasan islands, in three protected areas, and as scattered populations in the west); Oman (widely distributed, with the largest population in the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary); United Arab Emirates and Yemen, mainly from the west and south. There is also a small introduced population on Farur Island (Iran) in the Persian Gulf (Mallon and Kingswood 2001).
Distribution in Egypt
Localized (North Sinai).
Arabian Peninsula, Palestine, Sinai
Male mountain gazelles weigh between 17 and 29.5 kg, whereas the smaller females weigh 16-25 kg. They are sexually dimorphic with the males being larger and having larger horns. Toothrows of mountain gazelles are nearly straight.
Gazelles have a slender build with proportionally long necks and legs. The hind legs of mountain gazelles are particularly long.
Mountain gazelles are a dark brown with white underparts, flanks, and light brown limbs. The face is marked with an off-white stripe with black lower margins. There is also a narrow, dark flank-band that separates the dark dorsal tones from the white underparts. The base of the hairs from the underside are buff colored. The black tail is short and bushy. The ears are also relatively short. The white line down the thigh stops at the hock. Pelage is short and sleek, and reflects the sun’s radiation in the summer months, and is much longer, thicker and rainproof during the winter to protect the animal from the heavy winter rains.
Both sexes have horns. The relatively short horns of the males (220-294 mm) vary greatly depending on habitat. Female mountain gazelles have horns that are less then 70% the length of males’ horns in the same population (84-153 mm). Males’ horns are thick and have prominent rings whereas the females’ horns are unringed. The horns are elliptical in a cross-section and the gap at the base is about 25 mm. Male horns bow out from the base with the tips almost always pointing in. The females’ horns are curved slightly forward. Horn shape may vary greatly within populations, but in most cases the horns resemble an S-shape. Horns also have broad grooves that run up the anterior part of the core, a groove along the posterior boarder, and a less prominent groove that runs medial to the aspect of the core (Groves and Lay, 1985; Mendelsohn et al., 1995).
Range mass: 17 to 29.5 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Mountain gazelles live in mountainous and hilly habitats consisting of light forests, fields, or desert plateaus. They usually spend the days in the hills bedded down and descend at night or in the early morning to forage.
Mountain gazelles live in areas with an average annual temperature of 21-23 degrees Celsius and an average winter temperature of about 14 degrees Celsius. The areas occupied by G. gazella are dry, usually with an annual precipitation of 300-400 mm (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; Massicot, 2001).
Habitat Regions: temperate
Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
In Israel, the gazelles of the Arava Valley (Gazella gazella acaciae) are found in arid habitats dominated by acacia (Acacia raddiana and A. tortilis); Palestine Mountain Gazelle (G. g. gazella) are found in hilly regions with good vegetative cover, especially in areas near irrigated cultivation.
The gazelles on Farasan Island inhabit areas of broken coral ravines and flat gravel. They apparently emerge to feed at night mainly on Cyperus., and obtain water mainly from dew (Flamand et al. 1988).
Gazelles are browsers and grazers, feeding on grasses, herbs, and shrubs. Their food varies greatly and depends on habitat. In the Arabian Peninsula, gazelle distribution is closely related to the distribution of Acacia, however, in Arabia G. gazella lives mainly on the foliage of wadi beds and gorges. Only a few plants are rejected altogether. Even poisonous plants rejected by most herbivores are eaten by mountain gazelles.
Gazelles seem to be well adapted physiologically to live in harsh desert extremes. They can go without water for long periods of time and find succulent plants and dew drops an adequate source of water. Gazelles do not accumulate significant fat stores, even under the most favorable conditions (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001; Wildlywise Adventures, 2001).
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
Because of their foraging behavior, mountain gazelles probably affect the plant communities where they are common. Also, although predators do not significantly affect gazelle populations, availabilty of this primary consumer may affect predator populations.
The horns of nountian gazelles are the most utilized form of defense against predation. They are used for butting small predators. The gazelle also has keen vision and can run at high speeds. Predation by carnivores doesn’t appear to significantly affect gazelle populations, although humans have become one of the mountain gazelle’s worst predators. (Mendelsohn et al., 1995).
- red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
- jackals (Canis)
- cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)
- leopards (Panthera pardus)
- gray wolves (Canis lupus)
- caracals (Caracal caracal)
- hyenas (Hyaenidae)
- feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
Canis lupus familiaris
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Mountain gazelles rarely live more then eight years in nature, but in captivity they can live between 12 and 15 years (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; Wildlywise Adventures, 2001).
Status: wild: 8 years.
Status: captivity: 12 to 15 years.
Status: wild: 12.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Males and females may both mate with multiple partners.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Gazelles are found in small groups of 3-8 individuals. Males are territorial with one or more females and their young. The company females keep is determined primarily by their reproductive status. Mating occurs in early winter (October-November), but can take place year-round where food is available.
Births usually occur from April to May with the females usually only have one young per season. Estrous occurs every 18 day and lasts 12-24 hours until the female becomes pregnant. Female gazelles copulate with more then one male. The gestation period is 180 days and offspring are born weighing 11-12% of the mother’s mass. Birth takes place in isolation and the precocial young can stand and walk shortly after birth. The young spend the first weeks nursing and when they are three to six weeks old they begin to feed on solid food. Suckling may last up to three months. Around this time, the mother and young join a small maternity herd. Females may remain with their mother for life, but males leave the maternal herd at about six months of age. The males then join a herd of young males. Females reach their adult mass at about 18 months whereas males do not reach full size until three years (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; Dunham, 1999).
Breeding season: October-November
Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 6 (low) months.
Average gestation period: 6 months.
Range weaning age: 2.5 to 3.33 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1.5 to 3 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1.5 to 3 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
Average birth mass: 2360 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Females nurse their precocious young for up to three months. When they are three to six weeks old, they young begin to feed on solid food. Around the time of weaning, the mother and young join a small maternity herd.
Males are not involved in parental care.
Parental Investment: female parental care ; post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Gazella gazella
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gazella gazella
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Mountain gazelles are listed on CITES Appendix III in Tunisia and the Asian populations are listed on CITES Appendix II. The two major threats to these gazelles include habitat loss (human induces) and direct loss. Other threats include hunting and collecting, trade, alien invasive species, and hybridizers. Stricter laws in most areas have reduced poaching of this species, but habitat loss and exploitation continue to threaten populations (Mendelsohn et al., 1995; IUCN Species Survival Commission, 2000.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2003Vulnerable(IUCN 2003)
- 1996Lower Risk/conservation dependent(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Vulnerable(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Date Listed: 07/27/1979
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Arabian Peninsula, Palestine, Sinai
Population location: Arabian Peninsula, Palestine, Sinai
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Gazella gazella , see its USFWS Species Profile
Status in Egypt
In the Arava Valley, the major threat to the Acacia Gazelle is habitat deterioration: the water table is falling due to abstraction of underground water sources for agriculture causing acacia trees, bushes and perennial plants to disappear. Predation by wolves (Canis lupus) and jackals (C. aureus) has also increased. The small size of the remnant population means that inbreeding is a threat and leaves the taxon vulnerable to stochastic factors.
The Palestine Mountain Gazelle was formerly hunted under license in Israel and was regarded in places as an agricultural pest. Shooting was legally halted in 1993 due to declining numbers.
There are no natural predators on the Farasan Islands so overgrazing is a potential future problem if the population increases. Hunting (killed for meat) and live trapping (for sale as pets on the mainland) are the main threats but the effect of these has fallen since the islands were declared a reserve.
Saudi Arabia: Uruq Bani Ma’arid (5,500 km²); Al Khunfah (34,225 km²); and Ibex Reserve (2,370 km²) (all Arabian Mountain Gazelle). The Farasan Islands (600 km²) have been a nature reserve under the control of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD) since 1988, and aerial censuses are carried out by NCWCD on the Farasan Islands, at 2-3 yearly intervals.
Oman: Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (24,785 km²); Wadi Sareen Tahr Reserve (800 km²); Jebel Samhan NR (4,500 km²), As Saleel NP (220 km²) (all Arabian Mountain Gazelle).
Israel: En Gedi (14 km²); Ya’ar Yehudia (62 km²); Mezukai Herev (23 km²). The current habitat in the Arava Valley is protected, and supplementary feed is provided and natural vegetation irrigated. However, an evaluation of predator control in the area is recommended.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The gazelles often eat the cultivated crops of the area (IUCN Species Survival Commission, 2000; Massicot, 2001).
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Hunting for gazelle skins, meat, and trophy horns is common, and poorly regulated.
Positive Impacts: food
The mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) is a species of gazelle widely but unevenly distributed in Israel, Palestine, Turkey and across the Arabian Peninsula. It inhabits mountains, foothills, and coastal plains. Its range coincides closely with that of the acacia trees that grow in these areas. It is mainly a grazing species, though this varies with food availability. It is less well adapted to hot, dry conditions than the Dorcas gazelle, which appears to have replaced the mountain gazelle through some of its range during the late Holocene in a period of climatic warming.
In 1985, a large population of mountain gazelles built up through game conservation in two Israeli reserves, in the southern Golan Heights and Ramat Yissachar, was decimated by foot and mouth disease. To prevent such occurrences, a plan was drawn up to stabilize the female population at 1,000 in the Golan and 700 in Ramat Yissachar.
Less than 15,000 mountain gazelles are left within their natural range, more than 10,000 of these being of the Arabian mountain gazelle subspecies, G. g. cora, less than 3,000 Palestinian mountain gazelles, G. g. gazella, less than 1,000 of G. g. farasani, less than 250 of G. g. muscatensis, and 19 of subspecies G. g. acaiae. Mountain gazelles can reach running speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph).
The Palestine mountain gazelle - G. g. gazella - resides largely in three areas: the Golan Heights, Ramot Naftali and the Galilee. In the coastal plain, there is a small population of gazelles but the numbers are decreasing in the wake of accelerated urbanization. The population decreased greatly throughout its natural range in the first part of the 20th century due to poaching. but increased thereafter thanks to conservation efforts.
The Arava gazelle - G. g. acaiae - is in critical danger, with only 19 (counting made in 2007 of 17 plus two newborns) gazelles in a closed nature reserve near Yotvata, Israel.
The Merrill gazelle - G. g. merrilli - lives in the mountains near Jerusalem.
The Cuvier’s gazelle - G. g. cuvieri lives north of the Sahara desert.
- Grubb, P. (2005). "Gazella gazella". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 637–722. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). "Gazella gazella". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Mountain gazelle management in northern Israel in relation to wildlife disease control
- Lee, K. "Gazella gazella". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Kaplan, D. (December 2002). "Langfristige Bestandsschwankungen der Edmigazelle (Gazella gazella gazella) in Nordisrael". Zeitschrift für Jagdwissenschaft (Springer Berlin / Heidelberg) 48 (Supplement 1): 167–171. doi:10.1007/BF02192405.
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