The dorcas gazelle is one of the most desert-adapted of all gazelles; they can go for their entire lives without drinking, as they can get all the moisture they need from the plants that form their diet (2). However, they will drink if water is available (4). They are able to withstand high temperatures, but when it is very hot they are active mainly at dawn, dusk and during the night (2). In areas where they face persecution, they tend to be active at night in order to minimise the risk of hunting (4). These gazelles feed on leaves, flowers and pods of many species of Acacia trees as well as the leaves, twigs and fruits of various bushes. They occasionally stand on their hind legs to browse on trees, and after rain they have been observed digging out bulbs from the ground (4).
When conditions are harsh, dorcas gazelles live in pairs, but when conditions are more favourable they occur in family herds with one adult male, several females and young (4). During the breeding season, adult males tend to be territorial, and mark their range with dung middens (2). In most parts of the range, mating takes place from September to November. Gestation takes six months; a single fawn is the norm, although twins have been reported in Algeria. The newborn is well developed at birth, with fur and open eyes. Within the first hour, the fawn attempts to stand, and it will suckle on this first day of life (4). In the first two weeks, the young gazelle lies curled up in a scrape on the ground or beneath bushes while the mother grazes close by. The young then starts to follow its mother around and begins to take solid food. After around three months, the fawn stops suckling and is fully weaned, at which time the pair rejoins the herd (4).
The natural predators of dorcas gazelles include cheetahs, which have largely been eliminated throughout the gazelle’s range. Other predators include serval, caracal, wolf, and hyaena. Fawns are taken by smaller cats, jackals, foxes, and eagles (4). Dorcas gazelles are able to run at speeds of up to 80 km per hour, and when threatened they tail-twitch and make bouncing leaps with the head held high (stotting) to announce that they have seen a predator (4).