Grant’s gazelle (Nanger granti)
|Size||Head-body length: 140 – 166 cm (2)|
Tail length: 20 – 28 cm (2)
Male weight: 60 – 81.5 g (2)
Female weight: 38 – 67 g (2)
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The most distinguishing feature of this pale fawn gazelle is the distinct vertical black stripe that runs down either side of the white buttocks. The underparts and inner legs are also white, and the tail is white at the base but has longer black hair towards the tip (3). Its magnificent horns are long, ringed and slope slightly backwards and outwards, with the tips pointing inwards. The lighter females have considerably shorter and more slender horns, and several subspecies of Grant’s gazelle are recognised based on the shape of the horns (3). The eyes are set in leaf-shaped, jet-black patches of skin, incorporating the preorbital glands that (2), unlike other gazelle species, the Grant’s gazelle does not use to mark territories (4).
Occurs in East Africa; in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda (1).
Grant’s gazelles occur in many habitats, including semi-desert scrub, treeless plains and open savanna woodland (3) (4). They can be found up to altitudes of 2,000 metres, preferring the higher, well-drained areas during the rains, and the flat, grassy valleys in the dry season (4).
Grant’s gazelles are often found in small herds of up to 30, with an adult ram controlling a territory, and a group of ewes and their offspring roaming over larger areas than the male (3). Younger and non-territorial rams may form bachelor groups that move around the edges of territorial ram ranges (3). However, these groupings are not fixed, and Grant’s gazelles deal with changing food supplies by having an exceptionally fluid social system. When there is an adequate supply of food all year round, rams maintain territories continually (4). In other areas they tend to be nomadic, moving from high, well-drained areas during the rains, to flat, grassy valleys in the dry season, with larger temporary herds forming at certain times of the year (2) (3).
The Grant’s gazelle prefers to eat herbs and shrub foliage, but will also graze on grass during the early rains when it is young and green. It is often found feeding with other herbivores, benefiting from other animals feeding on the grass, as this encourages the growth of herbs on which the gazelles primarily feed (2) (4).
Adult territorial rams mark their area with dung and urine deposits and perform elaborate displays when confronting each other (3) (4), particularly during the biannual mating peaks (2). The displays involve a characteristic flicking of the raised head; slow, stiff head-circling; and lowering the head with the horns pointing at the opponent (2) (3). Births follow a six month gestation and the fawn (2), weighing five to seven kilograms (3), remains hidden for the first few weeks of life (2).
Habitat loss and degradation due to agriculture and hunting has eliminated Grant’s gazelles from some areas (2). Despite these threats, these gazelles are still widespread and common in many areas, including a number of national parks and reserves (2).
The IUCN Red List classifies Grant’s gazelle as Lower Risk / Conservation Dependent (1), indicating that its continued, unthreatened status, is somewhat dependent on the continued existence and protection of the parks and reserves in which it occurs. These areas include Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, and Lake Turkana National Park, Kenya (5).
For further information on Grant’s gazelle see:
- Kingdon, J. (1989) East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
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- Gestation: the state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Territorial: an animal, a pair of animals or a colony that occupies and defends an area.
IUCN Red List (December, 2009)