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Tom Kellie

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Tom Kellie


Gazella granti at Rest in Amboseli
Photographed at 9:47 am on 11 February, 2014 in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.
ISO 800, 1/2000 sec., f/5.6, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.
One surprise for me on the initial safari to Kenya in August, 2011 was observing various species resting on the ground. While understandable, it was seldom depicted in guidebooks.
While on a morning game drive in Amboseli National Park, this Gazella granti, Grant's Gazelle, was placidly resting near the track, seemingly unruffled by our arrival.


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Hi@@Tom Kellie..

Help me differentiate between the grant gazelle , impala , thomson gazelle etc which look alike..


Also can you group the similar ones like


Little ones ...then medium sized(impala grants etc) and ...large ones like (topi hartebeest etc)

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Tom Kellie

Hi@@Tom Kellie..

Help me differentiate between the grant gazelle , impala , thomson gazelle etc which look alike..


Also can you group the similar ones like


Little ones ...then medium sized(impala grants etc) and ...large ones like (topi hartebeest etc)


~ @@gagan


That's a tall order for a fairly green safari enthusiast.

I'm not your man for this, as lately I've ‘whiffed at bat’ on far too many recent bird identifications.

There are several first class antelope specialists on Safaritalk. If you look in the Wildlife photography section you'll see who is especially skilled in antelope taxonomy and identification.

My approach to identification is an amateur's methodology — using a simple field guide and looking at the images.

While I'm flattered that you'd ask, I must urge you to inquire of those Safaritalk members with greater experience and superior perception of antelope species characteristics.

I apologize for being under-qualified to assist you with this.

Tom K.

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  • 4 months later...


Samburu Stalwart

Photographed at 4:44 pm on 28 April, 2014 in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.

ISO 800, 1/8000 sec., f/4, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


Most of the male Grant's Gazelles I've seen in Kenya have been grazing at a distance, with no opportunity for a close-range image. In Samburu the opportunity finally arrived.

This fellow was fairly near the gravelly track. When we stopped, he looked up, but remained where he had been standing long enough for this portrait to be made.

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  • 1 month later...

I did a mini-safari drive at the Dubai Desert Conservation area last year. It was a canned, touristy (but fun) experience and was my only chance to get out of the city and see some wildlife. I didn’t have a camera but was lucky enough to see both Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelle. One of my colleagues that did the drive with me snapped a few pictures and is finally sorting through them. He sent along a distant shot of a Gazelle on a dune…hopefully he’ll come across pictures of the Oryx wwe saw and send that along too!




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~ @@PT123


I'm glad that you mentioned your experience.

During the past year I toyed with the possibility of staying in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days at Sir Bani Yas to see the species you've mentioned.

Are they comparable in size to what's seen during African game drives?

If those photos ever turn up, I'd enjoy seeing them.

Thank you for telling about your Dubai Desert Conservation visit.

Tom K.

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Hi @Tom Kellie


From what I recall and could tell they were about the same size. It is a bit difficult to judge as sightings of both species were of solitary individuals on a dune (with no trees, other animals, etc.) to provide a sense of scale. Even though it was a bit of a packaged experience I am glad that I did it or else I would never have been able to see these species in the wild.

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  • 3 weeks later...


Straightforward Gazelle

Photographed at 5:16 pm on 2 May, 2015 in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.

ISO 800, 1/5000 sec., f/8, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


Wending our way down a track I noticed a male Grant's Gazelle standing where would pass. I assumed that before we came that far, the gazelle would have walked away to maintain a safe distance.

I was mistaken. The gazelle stood its ground, seemingly unfazed by our presence. I enjoyed seeing the characteristic eye masks at close range.

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  • 1 year later...

Great photos @Tom Kellie I thought it was time for an update, I hope then perhaps a few other members might add some photos.




According to the latest taxonomic revision there are 37 different species of gazelles, but as is always the case some of the newly elevated species are not recognised by some taxonomists so the actual number is disputed. Of these different species there are either 15 or 17 found in Africa, the other 20 or so occur from Israel and Gulf States across Central Asia to India, Tibet and Mongolia.


The African species according to Kingdon’s Mammals of Africa and the second edition of the Kingdon field guide are as follows.


Rhim, Loder’s or slender-horned gazelle Gazella leptoceros

Cuvier’s, Edmi or Atlas gazelle Gazella cuvieri

Dorcas gazelle Gazella dorcas (includes Pelzeln’s)

Speke’s gazelle Gazella spekei


Red-fronted gazelle Eudorcas rufifrons

Eritrean or Heuglin’s gazelle Eudorcas tilonura

Mongalla gazelle Eudorcas albonotatus

Thomson’s gazelle Eudorcas thomsonii


Peter’s gazelle Nanger petersi

Grant’s gazelle Nanger granti

Bright’s gazelle Nanger notata

Soemerrings gazelle Nanger soemmerringii

Dama gazelle Nanger dama


Gerenuk Litocranius wallerii


Dibatag ammodorcas clarkei


In the recent book Bovids of the World by José R. Castelló Pelzeln’s gazelle is elevated to a full species Gazella pelzelnii separate from the dorcas gazelle and the gerenuk is split in two species Northern Litocranius sclateri and Southern Litocranius wallerii


Whether there are 15 or 17 African species,all of these gazelles are confined to Northern, Western, Central and Eastern Africa there are no gazelle species in Southern Africa, the southernmost gazelles are a population of Grant’s gazelles found in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park.


Although it does closely resembles a gazelle, the Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis found in Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa  is not a gazelle, again depending on your point of view there is either 1 species or according to Bovids of the World 3 species of springbok. Unlike gazelles, the Springbok has a dorsal crest of white hair which can be erected, this crest is otherwise hidden underneath two folds of skin that form a pouch lined with scent glands, hence the scientific name marsupialis ‘pouched’ from the Latin marsupium meaning pouch.


Given their similarity in appearance to gazelles I was going to suggest that perhaps springbok photos should be added to this thread but I see there's already a photo in the Show us your small antelope species thread so maybe that is a more appropriate place as they're not gazelles.


Sadly due to a combination of uncontrolled hunting and competition with and habitat degradation caused by livestock, has markedly reduced the population of some of these gazelle species, bringing them close to extinction in the wild. Several of them are listed as endangered by the IUCN and their populations are still decreasing, this coupled with the fact that they are living in some pretty remote, inhospitable and in some cases fairly unfriendly locations, makes, getting to see some of these species in the wild a little difficult.  For example the Dibatag is found only in Somalia and the neighbouring Ogaden Region of Ethiopia, visiting Somalia is out of the question and the Ogaden likewise, I would think, as it is subject to serious travel warnings. The northern part of Somalia known as Somaliland which declared independence some years ago, but is not internationally recognised, is safe to visit and it may be possible to see Pelzeln’s and Speke’s gazelle there, they are endemic to this region. 


Fortunately good numbers of some of these endangered gazelles exist in captivity, providing a source of animals for reintroductions and an insurance policy should they become extinct in the wild. I hope that at some point in the future someone may add some wild or semi-wild photos of some of these rarer, off the beaten track species, in the meanwhile I will add some of my shots taken in captivity and later on some shots of some of the wild gazelles I’ve seen.



Dama Gazelle


The dama or addra gazelle (Nanger dama) is the largest gazelle species, once extremely common around the fringes of the Sahara Desert, particularly in the arid wooded grasslands of the Sahel this species shared almost the exact the same distribution as the scimitar-horned oryx. Severe habitat degradation caused by the overgrazing of livestock and out of control hunting, following the arrival of motor vehicles and modern firearms in the region, has had huge impact on large Sahelian/Saharan ungulates. Up until the 1950s dama gazelles were still common throughout much of their range, but between the 50s and the 70s numbers declined markedly in large part because of Arab hunting parties, driving out into the desert in search of animals to hunt. Dama are large conspicuous animals which made them an easy target for these hunting parties. As a result they have been wiped out across much of their range, a major stronghold for the species has always been the Ouadi Rimé Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad in the 1970s there were estimated to be between 10-12,000 of them in the reserve. As with other populations these animals were targeted by Arab hunters as recently as 2001, groups of hunters were going to Chad to hunt this critically endangered species, the hunting was at least temporarily halted after a local NGO kicked up a fuss.


The following is from the IUCN Redlist website



Since 2000, Dama Gazelles have been reported from only five sites: south Tamesna, eastern Mali (last record 2006); the Air massif and Termit/Tin Toumma N.N.R. in Niger, and the Manga region and Ouadi Rimé Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad (RZSS and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group 2014). Much of the former range has not been surveyed in recent years due to political instability and lack of security, and there is a very slight possibility that small groups may persist elsewhere. Unconfirmed local reports suggest that small populations may exist in two other locations, but as Dama Gazelles make long-distance movements, ‘new’ small groups may represent nomads not separate subpopulations (RZSS and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group 2014).


For a time the OROA Reserve was the frontline in the war between the Libyan backed FROLINAT rebels and Chadian government troops, making it too dangerous for the reserve’s rangers or other conservationists to operate there.  Oryx and gazelles were likely hunted for food by the warring sides, the oryx were ultimately hunted to extinction and the gazelle population significantly reduced to the point that it was thought that very few remained. Recent surveys have revealed that there are in fact still good numbers of dama gazelles in the OROA and this reserve offers the best hope for the survival of this beautiful species. 


Distribution map


A number of different subspecies have been described but it’s thought that only three of these have any validity, the catastrophic decline in the population of these gazelles has made it difficult to establish the relationship between the different races and where the boundaries were between them. If indeed they are different races at all, in the far east of their range damas are very largely white all over except for the neck and shoulders which are rich red brown, in the centre of their range the brown colour extends all the way down their backs, in the far west they are a much darker chestnut brown and this colour extends right down to their hind legs and also their forelegs. Those in the east are classified as Nanger dama ruficollis, those in the centre as Nanger dama dama and those in the far west as Nanger dama mhorr, however, some taxonomists think that these subspecies may not be valid and that the colour change just represents a cline, rather than distinct subspecies much as is thought to be the case with plains zebras. The question of whether or not the different subspecies are valid, has important implications for the conservation of the dama gazelle. The dark animals found originally in the far west and north of their range are known as Mhorr gazelles, these animals have been relentlessly hunted for what in Morocco they call Baid-el-Mhorr which means Mhorr’s eggs, this is in fact what’s known as a bezoar stone and is produced in the animals gut. Many animals (notably goats) produce bezoar stones in their guts, since ancient times people in Persia and further east have valued these bezoars, for the fact that they are supposedly an antidote to all poisons and as such they are a popular ingredient in traditional medicines.  Having hunted out the Mhorr gazelles in the north of their range, the Arabs would travel further and further south to find them eventually they were hunted to extinction in the wild. They now only survive in captivity and all of these animals are thought to descend from just four animals that were captured in the Western Sahara and taken to Spain, obviously the entire population is severely inbred. They may not always have done so in the past but these days zoos involved in captive breeding programs take great care to avoid mixing different subspecies to maintain their genetic integrity. If the different subspecies of dama are not valid then it would make sense to breed some of these Mhorr gazelles with other captive dama gazelles that are currently regarded as belonging to the subspecies  Nanger dama ruficollis these animals are descendents of a herd captured at Ouadi Haouach  close to the OROA Faunal Reserve in Chad in this case there were more founders around 20 so these animals are less inbred. There are enough of these two forms in captivity now that an experiment should be set up to crossbreed some of them, as is suggested in the following scientific paper on this issue.


Splitting or Lumping? A Conservation Dilemma Exemplified by the Critically Endangered Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama)


While extinct in the wild the Mhorr gazelle has been introduced/reintroduced into fenced reserves in Morocco at Souss Massa, where they are being bred for release into the wild further south and at Guembeul Reserve and Ferlo Nord Reserves in Senegal.  The first re-established population was in the Bou Hedma National Park in Tunisia, this attempted reintroduction or perhaps introduction as the park may be outside their original range has failed, the population never became properly established and declined to just three animals. The reasons for this are not clear but it’s thought that poaching was a significant factor and likely predation of newborns by jackals  I have read a news article from  a couple of years ago, stating that these gazelles will be reintroduced to Mauretania, but as far as I can tell this has not happened.


There are no animals of the typical dama race Nanger dama dama in captivity.


There is a significant population of N. d. ruficollis gazelles in zoos in the US now and also on hunting ranches in Texas, so besides possible problems with inbreeding their future is pretty secure.


The following photos were taken at Marwell Zoo near Winchester in the UK, where they used to have a good sized herd of these animals, these animals are descendants of the animals originally caught at Ouadi Houach in Chad, and Marwell was the first zoo in the UK to breed them. The most recent surveys suggest that the population of these gazelles in the Ouadi Rime Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad is doing well enough that a reintroduction of this subspecies of the dama gazelle should not prove necessary.  The recent reintroduction of the scimitar-horned oryx into the OROA should ensure that the gazelles will be much better protected, as additional rangers will have been employed to protect the oryx.















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The Mhorr gazelles first taken into captivity were sent to Spain’s Experimental Station of Arid Zones (EEZA) in Almeria, the only desert region in Europe as mentioned earlier, they came from the now disputed territory of Western Sahara, that was formerly a Spanish colony. As the animals in this herd were the only known mhorr left it was decided that having all their eggs in one basket was not wise and new herds should be established elsewhere. While reintroduction to the wild was the ultimate aim there was nowhere in Africa safe enough to attempt this with so few animals, in the 1980s the decision was taken that it would be best to send some to other zoos to create new herds. Some of these gazelles were sent to San Diego Zoo and for some time they had a breeding herd there. Sometime I guess a few years back the decision was taken that zoos in America should focus on breeding N. d. ruficollis and zoos in Europe on breeding N. d. mhorr. This I would I guess must be why Marwell zoo no longer have their herd of dama gazelles, they must have been sent to the US, the photos above were taken in 05 and 07 when I last visited in 2010 they no longer had these gazelles. Likewise as far as I can see from their website San Diego no longer have Mhorr gazelles. The mhorrs would have been sent to Europe or even to Africa.


These scanned slides of mhorr gazelles at San Diego Zoo were taken in 2002.









Conservation Review of the Dama Gazelle


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Soemmerring's Gazelle


This species Nanger Soemmerringii is found in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia it also occurred in Sudan in the past, but is believed to be extinct there. The major threat to this species is again uncontrolled hunting and competition with and habitat degradation caused by livestock, these problems have been exacerbated by the conflicts that have blighted this region. As a result populations of Soemmerring’s gazelle are declining everywhere there are really now only two protected populations, one that was introduced to the Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea off the Eritrean Coast and the other is in Awash NP and the nearby Aledhegi Wildlife Reserve in Ethiopia. In recent years these gazelles have declined in Awash, I don’t know about Aledhegi, illegal grazing of livestock is a major problem for the gazelles and other large herbivores in Awash, the authorities really need to get on top of this problem somehow, but I guess they don’t want to seriously antagonise the Afar communities around the park. However, if the Afar continue to take their cattle and other livestock into the park further degrading the habitat and competing with the wildlife, animals like the Soemmerring’s gazelle, could disappear like the giraffes and buffalos that once lived in the park. Fortunately, as with its close relative the dama there’s a good population of these gazelles in captivity and they also had a herd of them at the San Diego Zoo, whether they still do I don’t know.


Distribution map


The following shots are all scanned slides


These first two shot are from San Diego zoo






These wild shots were taken in Awash NP when I visited there in 99









Crop from the previous shot


I had thought that I had at least one better photo from Awash than these ones, but evidently not, however, I’m pleased to see that @Atravelynn has just added a better one to her report, Above the Clouds. Exploring Ethiopia´s Extraordinary Endemics with I suspect more to follow, I’m sure there must also be photos in other Ethiopian reports here.


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  • 1 year later...
On 7/14/2017 at 4:42 AM, inyathi said:

Great photos @Tom Kellie I thought it was time for an update, I hope then perhaps a few other members might add some photos.


~ @inyathi


Please forgive my delayed reply. I'm only now able to look back at posts I've missed during the past two years.


Your gazelle images are lovely. Thank you for posting them.


As elegant as gazelle species are, they're occasionally underrepresented in safari photos.


I look forward to any gazelle images which might be posted in 2019.


Tom K.

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  • 1 month later...




Agile Tail


~ Photographed with a Canon EOS 1D X camera mounted with an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens, hand-held, Manual shooting mode.
In Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, on 28 April, 2014 at 4:44 pm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/8000 sec.
The agile tail of a Grant's Gazelle is ceaselessly flicking, even when the animal is motionless. Is it an unconscious habit?
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  • 5 years later...

Dorcas Gazelle


Gazella dorcas once occurred throughout the Saharan region from the Mediterranean Coast to the Southern Sahel and from the.Atlantic to the Red Sea and up into the Sinai Peninsula and on in to Southern Israel and Jordan.  Like all Sahelo-Saharan antelopes they have been badly impacted by over-hunting and habitat degradation, as a result the population is decreasing, and Dorcas Gazelles have disappeared from many areas, however, they haven’t suffered as much as larger species, still being listed as vulnerable, unlike the critically endangered Dama Gazelle, that occupied much of the same range within Africa. Fortunately, Dorcas breed very well in captivity,  so there is a good population in zoos around the world and quite a number in private collections in the Gulf, thus there is a back up population, so if need be, they can be reintroduced, this has in fact already been done in Senegal, where animals from Barcelona Zoo have been released in to a 440 hectare enclosure, in the North Ferlo Faunal Reserve, although it is not actually certain that the species occurred in Senegal, except as a vagrant, since the local Peul people don’t have a name for Dorcas Gazelle. A number of subspecies have been recognised, such as the Saharan Dorcas Gazella dorcas osiris, however, recent genetic evidence, does not support the existence of distinct subspecies.


Dorcas Gazelle distribution


These first gazelles are captive animals, photographed at Marwell Zoo, where they have always bred Dorcas Gazelles.

















This last one was at San Diego Zoo



When I photographed those zoo gazelles, I had no idea, that I would one day see this species in the wild and have excellent views of them.

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My first experience of visiting the Sahara was a birding trip to Morocco many years ago, whilst I saw most of the desert birds that I hoped to find, I was not surprised to see no wild mammals in the desert at all, there may be perhaps 2000 or so, Dorcas Gazelles surviving in Morocco, but they really only survive in the remotest areas of the country, there was never any real chance that I might see any, I likely would have assumed at that time, that chances of seeing them in the wild anywhere else in the Sahara, wouldn't have been much better. Almost 30 years later, visiting the Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve in Chad in 2022, I really didn't know if I would see any gazelles at all, I knew that the larger Dama Gazelles, Scimitar-horned Oryx and Addax had been extirpated, I assumed that Dorcas Gazelles would be pretty rare and not easy to find, this proved to be the case, they have been heavily hunted, but small numbers survive and they should be increasing with better protection. I was at least hopeful that I would see some, as I knew that previous visitors to Ennedi had seen Dorcas, so unlike when I visited Morocco, I knew I was in with a chance. Besides being not too easy to find, they're not always easy to see, it was a case of good luck, that my driver spotted this pair, my first wild Dorcas Gazelles, the other vehicles on our Ennedi safari had driven straight past and missed them, 



Dorcas Gazelles in the landscape, Ennedi, Chad







Fortunately, we encountered more Dorcas on our final day, seeing a group of them running through the desert, panning with my camera attempting to catch them, I took so many photos, that I discovered I could stitch them together into a panorama, I hadn't set out to create a panorama, but I like the result, there are I think 15 gazelles visible in the image, but I can't guarantee that they are all different individuals, some might appear more than once.   


These views of Dorcas are really about as good as I had expected to get, and I'd guess were fairly typical for Ennedi.


Moving on to Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve, it was a wonderful surprise to see that Dorcas are very common and easy to see, such that in places it was quite like viewing Grant's or Thomson's Gazelles in the Serengeti, something I had really not expected would be the case. the reserve is a real stronghold for the species, in the 1970s there were 35,000 to 40,000, the population is likely much lower than that now, but OROA still probably has the largest population of any protected area. I would expect that the population should be growing, the reserve must be much better protected than it was, as a result of the Scimitar-horned Oryx and Addax reintroduction projects, the first Oryx were brought in 2016 after years of planning, improving security and discouraging the poaching of animals, would have been essential to make sure the oryx would be safe, Dorcas Gazelles should have benefitted from this.   


























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I might not have expected to have such great views of Dorcas in OROA, but I knew when I went there that I should at least likely see some, but what I really did not expect at all, was that I would see wild Dama Gazelles or that I would see them on a night drive, I only managed to get one passable photo as a record of my sighting. I had assumed that the only Damas I would see if at all, would be some of the captive herd, that live near the Oryx Base, recently some gazelles bred at the Delaika Captive Breeding Centre in Abu Dhabi were flown out to OROA, this should boost the captive population, in the reserve, though I doubt they will provide new genetics, as they are almost certainly descendants of gazelles captured in OROA, but once they have enough captive gazelles, they should be able to start releasing them, to boost the wild population. 



Wild Dama Gazelle, Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve



Captive Dama Gazelle, Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve, Chad


Unfortunately, my visit to OROA was too short, had we been there for longer, I now know that there is a chance that we would have been able to go out and look for wild Damas during the daytime, but I can't complain, just to have seen one of the rarest large mammals in Africa in the wild was pretty special. The major attraction of visiting OROA was to see species in the wild, that I had only ever seen in captivity, and would not have a chance to see in the wild anywhere else.  


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Tom Kellie

~ @inyathi:


Thank you for both of the above posts.


Both the images and the commentary are highly appreciated.


Your interest in gazelles and other grazers highlights a vital aspect of African ecology.


Similarly, in years past I appreciated the photos posted by @Safaridudeshowing herd species.


Thank you for your generous sharing of understanding and wisdom.


      Tom K.

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@Tom KellieThank you, I only have a portion of my photos on Flickr, but I recently created an album there for gazelles and springbok, I'd already created albums for other antelope families, after uploading old photos from an Ethiopian safari, and thinking about my recent Chad safari, I decided I had enough gazelles, for an album, that makes it easy to post my gazelle photos here. After digging out some additional gazelle shots as well, I think I can add a few more posts. 



At one time all gazelles in the recently created genus Eudorcas were considered conspecific and thus all one species, but now four (or perhaps five) species are recognised, the four are Thomson’s (Eudorcas thomsonii), Heuglin’s or Eritrean (Eudorcas tilonura), Mongalla (Eudorcas albonotata), and Red-fronted (Eudorcas rufifrons)


Red-fronted Gazelle


Eudorcas rufifrons is found south of the Sahara in the Sahel region, from Senegal across to the west bank of the Nile in Sudan. In 1894 three skins of male gazelles were purchased in markets in Algeria, it was thought that they were likely a previously unknown species that was named the Red Gazelle, if that is the case, this species originally Gazella rufina now Eudorcas rufina is now extinct, it was speculated that due to its darker colouration it was not likely a desert species and may have inhabited brush or forests in northwestern Algeria. However, Jonathan Kingdon, suggested that the skins were actually from Red-fronted Gazelles, it was apparently confirmed in 2008, that one of the skins was certainly that of Red-fronted Gazelle. Either there was a distinct species the Red Gazelle in Algeria, or perhaps a subspecies of Red-fronted Gazelle lived north of the Sahara in Algeria, or the skins were just from unusually dark Red-fronted Gazelles from somewhere in the Sahel, that were traded across the Sahara and ended up in markets in northern Algeria, the identity of the Red Gazelle remains a mystery. 


Much as is the case with other gazelles, the Red-fronted Gazelle has suffered markedly from overhunting for meat and skins, habitat degradation and competition with livestock, in Chad and presumably elsewhere kids are often taken for pets and raised with goats. Probably the two most important protected areas for the species, are the WAP Complex in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger and Zakouma National Park in Chad.


Red-fronted Gazelle distribution


The Red-fronted Gazelle is not the most numerous of Zakouma’s ungulate species, but I saw them well enough on all three of my visits to the park, given the security situation in the WAP Complex and in Northern Cameroon, Zakouma is I would suggest now, the place to go, if you want to see this gazelle. 


This species does also occur in OROA, although they look quite similar to Dorcas, the flank stripe is narrower and darker and the horns are a different shape. 





























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Thomson’s Gazelle


Eudorcas thomsonii is found in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, although the population has declined quite significantly, they are still very common in some sizeable well protected areas, such that they are listed as Least Concern, and should be secure for the foreseeable future. There are two subspecies, the Eastern Thomson’s Eudorcas thomsonii thomsoni east of the Rift Valley and the Serengeti Thomson’s Eudorcas t. nasalis, West of the Rift. in 2011 a controversial book, on ungulate taxonomy by Colin Groves and Peter Grubb was published, this book completely revised the taxonomy of all the world's ungulates, in the process as many would see it, they invented hundreds of new species, they have elevated almost every described subspecies to full species, increasing the number of ungulate species from around 257 to 450, this is the taxonomy followed by Jose R Castanelló in his book Bovids of the World. They treat the two subspecies of Thomson's as distinct species, but I don't think this view is widely accepted, the differences between them aren't significant and they are not separated by any great distance, it doesn't make sense to me that they should be different species. The Mongalla Gazelle E. albonotata whilst it is very similar in appearance, is confined to South Sudan but may occur in southwest Ethiopia, it is separated by I would suggest over 400 miles, from the nearest population of Thomson's, and is now recognised by most taxonomists as being a distinct species, it being split is reasonable. In general I go with the taxonomy in the Kingdon Field Guide and in Mammals of Africa, that doesn't recognise many of these more contentious splits, so I would treat all Thomson's Gazelles as one species, and the Mongalla as a separate species should I ever go to Boma or Badingilo NPs in South Sudan and see one. After saying that the Mongalla Gazelle is confined to South Sudan, in the course of compiling this post, I have just read that a lone vagrant was spotted in Kidepo NP in 2021, despite their range being a good distance north of the Uganda border, maybe not a big surprise as occasional White-eared Kob that share their range, have also turned up in Kidepo, it will be interesting to see if more turn up there. 


Thomson's Gazelle Distribution map


Mongalla Gazelle Distribution map






Thomson's Gazelle, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania









Ngorongoro Crater, NCA



The abundance of Thomson's Gazelles in the Serengeti Ecosystem is great for cheetahs



On the hunt, cheetah and Thomson's gazelles, Nduara, Piaya, Serengeti

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Grant’s Gazelle
In 2013 the Grant’s Gazelle was treated as a superspecies comprised of three distinct allopatric species, Grant’s or Southern Grant’s Nanger granti, Bright’s or Northern Grant’s Nanger notata and Peter’s Gazelle Nanger petersii, as with Thomson's Gazelle they were originally included in the genus Gazella
The IUCN gives the distribution as follows


N. (g.) granti (Grant's Gazelle) is distributed from the north bank of the Ruaha River in central Tanzania to Kenya south of Lake Baringo and Mt Kenya, and from Lake Victoria in the west to Voi River in Tsavo in the east.

N. (g.) notata (Bright's Gazelle) is distributed from north-east Uganda to southern Somalia with a range that surrounds Lake Turkana and extends across the very arid regions of northern Kenya. A belt of uplands and forest is thought to have separated Grant's Gazelle from Bright's Gazelle. 

N. (g.) petersii (Peter's or Tana Gazelle) is distributed in eastern Kenya from the lower Tana valley to west of the Juba River in Somalia. This species has recently extended its range to most of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya.


The map very clearly shows the distribution of the three species 
Southern Grant's Gazelle at Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area 
Grant's Gazelle with wonky horn, Ndutu
With newborn kids at Ndutu
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Grant's with a Thomson's Gazelle 
Thomson's and a Grant's Gazelle
The two preceding photos, illustrate well the difference in size, between Grant's and Thompson's whilst the Grant's in those photos don't, as the next photos will show, Grant's Gazelles can have a dark flank stripe, this can make them look very similar to Thomson's, so their larger size is a good way to tell them apart, also as is clear in the photos above, Grant's has a white rump patch above the tail, whereas Thomson's have no white over the tail, also if you compare the horns of the Grant's in this post with the horns of the Thomson's in the preceding post, you will see that the shape is noticeably different.   
Ndarakwai Ranch, Tanzania
Impala and Grant's gazelle
That last shot isn't the best shot of an impala but it shows the difference in colour, and that a Grant's Gazelle has far more white on it, their horns are also an entirely different shape, so you're unlikely to confuse them. 
The Grant’s Gazelles in Ruaha NP in Tanzania are an isolated population separated from the main population in the north of Tanzania and are the most southern gazelles in Africa, they are not found throughout the park and are best seen in the Mwagusi area
Ruaha National Park
According to this taxonomy, the gazelles I saw in a Nechisar National Park in Ethiopia are Bright’s Gazelles, but when I saw them they were still Grant’s Gazelles, as indicated on the distribution map, Bright's Gazelle should occur in Kidepo NP in Uganda but none have been seen there in a long time, suggesting that the species is likely extinct in the park, they may still occur further south in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve and perhaps other reserves in eastern Uganda. 
Bright’s Gazelles, Nechisar National Park, Ethiopia 
Although I like to include links to the IUCN Red List for their distribution maps, they are not always entirely accurate, zooming in on their map, the distribution indicated does not cover Nechisar NP. Although the park has lost a fair few species, I believe there are still gazelles there now. The Bright’s Gazelles in Nechisar would be one of the most northern populations, but I think there are still some further north in Abijatta-Shalla NP, well at least some captive ones, despite them being captive and at the park entrance, I didn’t see them there, when I went. Reviews on Tripadvisor seem to suggest there are a few wild ones, but I find that hard to believe, as the park was being badly trashed in 1999, by local people who had invaded and reclaimed their land, looking at it now on Google Earth, unsurprisingly it looks considerably worse, what should be acacia woodland, between the two lakes is now all cultivation, with some sizeable villages, in fact this is true for all of the land in the park, it is all now cultivated. I don’t like seeing people forcibly removed from national parks, as it always ends up being done in a heavy-handed and often quite brutal fashion, (that was why African Parks were forced to pull out of Nechisar), but it is shame, that the people couldn’t have been moved out of Abijatta-Shalla and found alternative land, it might have been possible to save the park back in the 1990s, but now there is no chance of restoring the park. After the fall of the brutal DERG regime in 1991, there was a period of lawlessness in Ethiopia, the national parks were not protected and local people moved in claiming what they likely considered was their land, Abijatta-Shalla was perhaps the worst affected, as it seems no attempts were made at all to remove the people, Nechisar whilst missing some of the big game, that should be there, hasn't been destroyed in the way Abijatta-Shalla has, it looks like there are some areas of cultivation in the park, but most of the park still looks like natural bush. It may still be worth visiting Lake Abijatta for the waterbirds, but not for much else, it is fortunate that populations of Bright’s Gazelles should be well protected in some of Kenya’s parks and conservancies. 
Having all three species, Kenya is certainly the place to go to see these gazelles, but obviously Tanzania is great place to see Southern Grant's.
Edited by inyathi
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When discovered by science, the species was given the name Waller’s Gazelle, but this name is very seldom used now, everyone calls them Gerenuk, a name derived from the Somali word garanuug that means giraffe-necked, the Swahili name is swala twiga, swala means gazelle and twiga giraffe, quite apt names as like giraffes, they have evolved to reach higher than their competitors, but unlike giraffes they do so, by standing on their hind legs and then reaching up with their long necks, to nibble foliage that other browsers might not be able to reach.


The Gerenuk is another animal, with two described subspecies that Groves and Grubb have split into two species, the Northern Litocranius sclateri found in Djibouti, northern Ethiopia, Somaliland and northern Somalia, and the Southern Litocranius walleri found in southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, Kenya and northern Tanzania, there isn’t a clear line between the distribution of the two forms and the principal difference seems to be that the Northern is larger, cranial measurements show that it has a larger skull. This is another case where I think two subspecies may be valid, but I ‘m not convinced that they are really separate species, I doubt a layman could tell them apart. 


Distribution map



Los Angeles Zoo


In his book Mammals of East Africa an Atlas of Evolution, Jonathan Kingdon states that the Gerenuk once occurred in Egypt and includes an image copied from from an ancient rock engraving, that appears to show a man leading a Gerenuk by a string, this same image is in Mammals of Africa. I was curious seeing this, to see what information there is online about Gerenuks in Ancient Egypt, I found an interesting paper about rock art depictions of Dama Gazelles, it has a section on misidentified Gerenuks, that suggests that many depictions said to be of Gerenuks, actually depict Damas. It would make sense that some of the alleged Gerenuk images, particularly from Libya would be Damas and not Gerenuks as there is no evidence that Gerenuks ever lived in the Sahara. Damas lived in Egypt west of the Nile, so some Egyptian depictions likely also show Damas. The paper describes the illustration that is in Kingdon’s book and points out that the animal is far too big for a Gerenuk, a male has a shoulder height of just over a metre, but the shoulder of the animal in the engraving is almost the same height as the man, its head towers over him. What animal is depicted, if it is a real animal is not clear, as it isn’t a Dama either for the same reason. Another rock engraving I’ve looked at, that is said to depict Gerenuks, shows three animals that have suitably long thin necks, but impossibly long horns, suggesting that they might not be exactly accurate, so really they could just as well be exaggerated Damas, as exaggerated Gerenuks, both species have backward curving horns, that are not dissimilar in shape and both sexes of Dama have horns unlike Gerenuks, it’s really just their very slender necks, that make them look rather like Gerenuks.



The dama gazelle Nanger dama (Pallas, 1766) in Saharan rock art



Our revision suggests that published conjectures of gerenuks (Litocranius walleri (Brooke, 1878)) or dibatags (Ammordorcas clarkei (Thomas, 1891)) depicted in Saharan rock images or in Pharaonic Egyptian art sometimes refer to misidentified dama gazelles, as far as they are interpretable at all.


A broken Ancient Egyptian object, one part of which is at the British Museum and the other at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, known as the Battlefield Palette, that dates from around 3,200 BC, depicts on one side of it, two very long-legged, long-necked animals either side of a date palm, the top half of one of them is missing, they have been described as both Gerenuks and giraffes. Whilst the one head that is there, is slightly odd looking, in my view they are very obviously giraffes, even though there are no ossicones on the head, (giraffes and okapis, don't have horns they have ossicones) and the head is amongst the palm fronds, of course, the depiction may not be accurate, but a Gerenuk would not be that tall, the animal also has a clear mane, which giraffes have and Gerenuks do not, and a more obviously sloping back, a Gerenuk's back would be more straight. Why some people think they could be Gerenuks, I’ve no idea, and giraffes definitely occurred in Egypt, disappearing during the Early Dynastic Period. It is strange when this object is sometimes referred to as the Giraffe Palette, that some people still insist on referring to the animals as Gerenuks. 


The Battlefield Palette



The Battlefield Palette is decorated on both faces with scenes in low relief. On one face, two long-necked gazelles (gerenuk) are browsing on a central date-palm.


British Museum Egypt 028
Einsamer Schütze, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons 


It is possible that Gerenuk did perhaps occur up to the Red Sea in Eritrea and Sudan, but I am doubtful that their range extended to Egypt, I haven’t managed to find any really convincing depictions online of Gerenuks, either in the form of rock art or Ancient Egyptian Pharaonic art.


Another series of rock engravings, supposedly shows a herd of Dibatags (Ammodorcas clarkei), once known as Clarke’s Gazelle, although it isn’t strictly a true gazelle, a rare animal, very similar to the Gerenuk, that lives in a small area of Somalia and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. It has long legs and a long neck like the Gerenuk, but its horns are forward curving, the animals in the engraving actually look somewhat giraffe like, but all appear to have forward curving horns, this is why some people think they are Dibatags, but as with Gerenuks, the females don’t have horns, so an entire herd all with horns is unlikely. Another image I found in Archaeology Magazine, shows a set of engravings in the Subeira Valley, that look like better drawings of possible Dibatags, but the article doesn’t mention Dibatags


Pre-Dynastic Rock Art Discovered in Egypt


As the paper on Damas points out, when they are young Damas have forward curving horns, so perhaps they show herds of young Damas, since both sexes have horns. It doesn’t seem that likely to me, that a species with such a limited distribution in Somalia and Ethiopia, was once found in Egypt. However, in the entry on the Dibatag in Mammals of Africa, written by Peter Grubb, he states 



Rock engravings of two Dibatags on the west bank of the Nile, north of Aswan suggests a southward retreat of this species in the Predynastic period of Egypt (Osborn and Osbornova 1998).

I don’t know if he is referring to the same engravings I have looked at online.


Pictures of Dibatag from Wikipedia


Ammodorcas clarkei The book of antelopes (1894)
Joseph Smit
, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons




Dibatag Distribution map


No remains of either species has ever been found in Egypt, it seems a little strange to determine that either species once lived in Egypt, purely based on a few rock engravings, that might or might not show these animals. Although the claim is not as bizarre as the suggestion, that a mural in Atet’s tomb in Meidum, includes a painting of a Jentink’s Duiker, an Upper Guinea Rainforest species, only found in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The animal in question looks vaguely like one, but as the mural also clearly depicts Scimitar-horned Oryx and Addax, the more obvious suggestion is that the animal is an Addax calf, since it has a white line across the muzzle, the same as the adult Addax has and Jentinck’s Duiker does not have. It is strange because this claim is made in a short paper by Nicolas Manlius, who has written a lot of papers on wildlife in Ancient Egypt, including one on Addax in Egypt, so he ought to have considered that it is just a young Addax.


Were there Duikers in Ancient Egypt?


Mind you he wrote another paper on supposed links between Ancient Egypt and the Americas, an idea mainly promoted by conspiracy theorists, and pseudo-historians, in which he refutes an idea, that I had not come across before, that the animals depicted on the Battlefield Palette seen above are actually llamas. I did think that the head is very llama like, but never thought anyone might suggest they were llamas, he says that idea is ridiculous but then insists that they are Gerenuks, admittedly less ridiculous, but not much in my view, more likely the artist hadn’t personally seen a giraffe and wasn’t aware of the ossicones on the head. Although in a similar depiction of giraffes either side of a palm tree, they do have their ossicones. 


I hadn’t intended to write so much, about this, as this is supposed to be a photo topic, but I thought it was interesting, as many websites state that Gerenuks and Dibatags were once found in Egypt, and Mammals of Africa states that they were but I am not entirely convinced. 


Kenya is the obvious place to look for Gerenuks, as they occur in a number of parks like Amboseli and Samburu amongst others. Gerenuks have a very limited distribution in northeastern Tanzania, since they are only found in arid bushland, their southern limit is the south of Tarangire NP, the adjoining  Mkungunero Game Reserve and the Masai Steppe. Although you can see them in Tarangire and in Mkomazi NP, the best place to see them in Tanzania is not in any of the parks, but in the bush along the road between Arusha and Namanga on the Kenya border, this certainly was the case and I assume still is, but when I saw some somewhere north of Arusha, it was before the Chinese seriously upgraded the road, I don’t know what difference this has made, I think we must have gone off the main road into bush a bit, to look for them, but I couldn’t say exactly where, it was we saw them. 




Gerenuks Northern Tanzania












Tarangire NP




Having brought up Dibatag, seeing one is very difficult, but not impossible, if you are willing to travel to the Ogaden in Ethiopia, adventurous mammal watchers, have got lucky and seen them, I was quite surprised to find a video of them on YouTube.






Edited by inyathi
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