types of gazelle

17 Types of Gazelles: Species, Facts and Photos

With their impressive speed and subtle elegance, gazelles are unforgettable. These hoofed animals belong to a diverse family with numerous species classified under three genera. This article explores the different types of gazelles, examining their habitats, appearances, and other features. 

From subtle distinctions in coat patterns to distinctive environmental adaptations, join us as we navigate their world.

Related Read: Types of Antelope.

Taxonomic Classification

Gazelles are part of the antelope family belonging to Bovidae, which includes other hoofed mammals, such as goats and buffaloes

Moreover, the gazelle family tree has three main branches: Gazella, Eudorcas, and Nanger

The genus Gazella is the biggest and most varied, with species like the Dorcas, Goitered, and Mountain Gazelles found in the deserts and grasslands of Africa and Asia. 

Meanwhile, the Eudorcas gazelles, which include the Thomson's and Red-fronted gazelles, are bulkier and prefer the sprawling savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Finally, the Nanger genus consists of the Grant's and Dama Gazelles, known for their long legs and dramatic facial markings. They live in the East African grasslands and savannas.

Furthermore, other antelope species are closely related to these true gazelles, falling under the Procapra genus. It includes Mongolian Gazelle, Tibetan Gazelle or Goa, Indian Antelope, and African springbok.

17 Types of Gazelle Species

1. Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas)

dorcas gazelle
Photo by מינוזיג - MinoZig on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Dorcas Gazelle inhabits the Sahara and Arabian deserts. It is petite, agile, swift, and has a light brown coat that is perfect camouflage. Featuring long ears and distinctly arched horns that curve outward before bending forward at the tips, it exhibits clear distinguishing features. This species primarily feeds on leaves, flowers, and acacia tree pods. 

Moreover, the Dorcas Gazelle is solitary, and males are territorial. Females give birth to a single fawn after a six-month gestation period. 

2. Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa)

goitered gazelle
Photo by Elşad İbrahimov on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Goitered Gazelle, also known as the Black-tailed Gazelle, lives in the arid regions of Central Asia. They are opportunistic eaters, consuming grasses, leaves, shoots, fruits, and flowers. 

During breeding, male gazelles develop large neck lumps or 'goiters' to attract females and warn off rivals. Males also have horns that start close together at the base and gradually curve apart. 

Unlike other gazelles, females usually lack horns. Additionally, they feature long ears and large black eyes.

3. Chinkara or Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii)

chinkara or indian gazelle
Photo by Mvshreeram on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Chinkara, also known as the Indian Gazelle, is well-adapted to arid environments in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Despite its size, it is strong and agile and has a simple diet of grasses, leaves, and fruits. It can also stay hydrated with minimal water intake. 

It has a reddish-brown coat and is one of the smallest members of the gazelle family. Both male and female Indian gazelles possess horns, but they are notably shorter in females. The horns are straight, ringed prominently, and have slightly out-turned tips.

Breeding season is between September and November; females give birth to one or two fawns after six months. 

4. Mountain Gazelle (Gazella gazella)

mountain gazelle
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

Nestled within rocky mountains or swiftly navigating grasslands, the Mountain Gazelle lives. 

Despite its name, this creature also thrives in deserts and savannas, showcasing impressive adaptability. Stretching from the dry expanses of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, the Mountain Gazelle's habitat is as diverse as it is vast.

Moreover, sexual dimorphism also characterizes this species, with both males and females possessing horns, although the males' horns are longer and more pronounced.

Due to a steep 70% decline in their numbers from 10,000 in 2001 to around 3,000 in 2013, the Mountain Gazelle is now classified as Endangered1. Ongoing threats include poaching, accidental road kills, and degradation and fragmentation of their natural habitats.

5. Speke's Gazelle (Gazella spekei)

speke's gazelle
Photo by Sergei ~ 5of7 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Speke's Gazelle is a small and sturdy species thriving in the arid landscapes of Ethiopia and Somalia. The British explorer John Hanning Speke documented them and gave them their name. 

These gazelles are small, agile, and robust and have a unique way of bounding high into the air with stiff legs known as "pronking" or "stotting." They eat grass, herbs, and shrubs, and their breeding season coincides with the rainy season. 

After a gestation period of almost six months, females give birth to a single fawn. Mother gazelles hide their newborns for the first few weeks of life and only appear to nurse them. 

Unfortunately, Speke's Gazelles are an endangered species. In Somalia, gazelle numbers are rapidly decreasing due to uncontrolled hunting, droughts, and habitat degradation resulting from overgrazing. Over three generations, this gazelle species has an estimated 50% rate of decline due to reduced range, deteriorating habitat quality, and increased exploitation.

6. Rhim Gazelle (Gazella leptoceros)

The Rhim Gazelle lives in the Sahara and Sahel regions. It has developed remarkable adaptations to survive in the desert, such as its sandy coat that provides excellent camouflage. Male gazelles sport thin, subtly S-shaped horns, while the females have them thinner and slightly straight. 

Moreover, the Rhim Gazelle mainly consists of leaves, shoots, and fruits from desert plants, but during droughts, it switches to eating dry, thorny shrubs. This animal can also extract moisture from the desert plants it consumes, allowing it to survive prolonged periods without water. 

The Slender-horned Gazelle is listed as Endangered, with its population estimated to be less than 600. The sparse populations inhabit only a fraction of the species' initial range and remain highly fragmented and isolated. Although poaching is suspected as a significant driver behind the population's decline to critically endangered status, there is only limited field data to substantiate this claim.

7. Cuvier's Gazelle (Gazella cuvieri)

cuvier's gazelle
Photo by mark6mauno on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Cuvier's Gazelle is the only gazelle living in mountainous regions, specifically the Atlas Mountains of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. As the smallest gazelle, it stands 23 to 27 inches tall and weighs around 77 pounds. 

A distinctive dark band separates its brown upper body from the lighter lower body - a feature meant to help camouflage the animal by counteracting its own shadow. This gazelle has long, lean ears, and both genders have horns, albeit those on males are bulkier and more ridged.

They primarily feed on leaves, twigs, shoots of shrubs and trees, grasses, and herbs. Additionally, they live in intimate groups of up to ten individuals, although males may lead a solitary existence. 

8. Arabian Sand Gazelle (Gazella marica)

arabian sand gazelle
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Arabian Sand Gazelle lives in the Arabian Peninsula. It has a light sandy coat that helps it blend into the desert landscape and has sharp senses that allow it to navigate the arid terrain. 

This gazelle is most active during the cooler hours of dawn and dusk and feeds on desert vegetation. It has a special stomach that extracts nutrients efficiently. To cope with the heat, it also digs shallow depressions in the sand to rest. 

9. Arabian Gazelle (Gazella arabica)

arabian gazelle
Photo by Ubm007 on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

Arabian gazelle inhabits the arid deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. It displays sandy coats that blend into their surroundings and dark facial stripes for added camouflage. Both genders sport curved, ringed horns, yet males boast a longer and thicker set. 

10. Erlanger's gazelle (Gazella erlangeri)

Erlanger's gazelle, residing in Saudi Arabia and Yemen4, is also known as Neumann's gazelle. Morphologically different from Mountain gazelles, its classification sparks debate, as some consider it a distinct species, while others argue it's a subspecies.

11. Saudi Gazelle (Gazella saudiya)

The Saudi Gazelle was a medium-sized creature that lived in the Arabian Peninsula. It was well-adapted to the desert environment, with a light brown coat, white underbelly, and a unique black stripe running down its body.

Some consider them a subspecies of Dorcas Gazelle but genetic analysis proves they are distinct species. Unfortunately, due to excessive hunting, IUCN considered Saudi Gazelles extinct since 20082, with the last sightings in 1970. Investigations reveal that alleged captive individuals are either different species or hybrids.

12. Queen of Sheba's Gazelle (Gazella bilkis)

The Queen of Sheba's Gazelle, or Yemen Gazelle, was unique in the Arabian Peninsula, mainly Yemen. Some consider it a subspecies of Arabian Gazelle. Experts remain unsure about its specific status due to conflicting DNA analysis. 

After five specimens were found in 1951, no additional sightings were reported. Since Queen of Sheba's Gazelle is already extinct, there is no more chance to study if it is a distinct species.

13. Thomson's Gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii)

thomson's gazelle
Photo by Lip Kee on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Thomson's Gazelle, also known as 'Tommie,' lives in the savannas and grasslands of East Africa. It has light-brown coats with a black stripe. Both genders have backward-curving horns that are highly ringed with forward-facing tips. However, female gazelle horns are shorter.

These African gazelles feed mainly on fresh grass during wet seasons and leaves from woody plants during dry periods. Although their major predator, cheetahs, can achieve higher speeds, these gazelles can outrun them in prolonged pursuits and can maneuver faster.

14. Red-fronted Gazelle (Eudorcas rufifrons)

red-fronted gazelle
Photo by Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry) on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Red-fronted Gazelle inhabits the Sahel zone in Africa. They prefer grasslands and shrublands, and their reddish-brown heads and upper bodies help them blend into their environment. 

Males have long, curved horns, while females often lack this feature. Their diet consists of grasses, leaves, and shoots, but they adjust their food preferences during the dry season by grazing on available woody plants.

15. Soemmerring's Gazelle (Nanger soemmerringii)

soemmering's gazelle
Photo by Ji-Elle on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Soemmerring's Gazelle is a medium-sized gazelle found in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. Males are larger than females and have long, curved horns, while females have shorter horns. 

They are active during dawn and dusk, and they are also swift sprinters. Moreover, they primarily feed on grasses, leaves, and shoots. 

They face challenges such as habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock but have survived due to their resilience. They currently hold a vulnerable status.

16. Grant's Gazelle (Nanger granti)

grant's gazelle
Photo by Susan Adams on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Grant's Gazelle is a medium-sized antelope found in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Tanzania. They have light tan fur, a white underbelly, and a black stripe running down their flanks. Males have long, ringed horns used for dominance battles. 

17. Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama)

dama gazelle
Photo by Charles Miller on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Dama Gazelle, also known as Mhorr gazelle or Addra gazelle, lives in the arid expanses of the Sahara desert and the Sahel. 

Their long, slender legs and an elongated neck are considered survival tools that help them spot predators from a distance. They have a unique coat of white and reddish-brown on the head and neck, allowing them to blend with the sandy and shrubby terrain. 

Unfortunately, these gazelle animals are critically endangered3 due to extreme hunting, disturbance, and expanded grazing. The outlook is concerning, with fewer than 200 mature individuals remaining in five isolated and diminishing subpopulations.

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1

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (2017). Gazella gazellaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T8989A50186574. 

2

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (2016). Gazella saudiya. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T8980A50187890. 

3

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (2016). Nanger dama. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T8968A50186128.

4

Grubb, P. (2005). "Gazella erlangeri". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 637–722. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.

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