An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Antilopinae
            Genus: Ammodorcas

Ammodorcas clarkei

      Dibatag, Clarke's gazelle


Ammodorcas clarkei [Thomas, 1891].  
Citation: Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., ser. 6, 7:304.
Type locality: Somalia, Habergerhagi's Country, Buroa Wells.

General Characteristics

Body Length: 152-168 cm / 5-5.6 ft.
Shoulder Height: 80-88 cm / 2.6-2.9 ft.
Tail Length: 30-36 cm / 12-14.4 in.
Weight: 22-35 kg / 48-77 lb.

The general colouration of the upper-parts is a grayish-fawn, while the rump and undersides are white.  The facial markings of the dibatag are very similar to those of true gazelles, consisting of a white stripe running from above the eye to the muzzle.  The streak along the bridge of the nose is a deep chestnut, and the mouth opening is very small.  The body is slender, and both the legs and neck are long and thin.  The most conspicuous feature of the dibatag is its long, heavily furred black tail, which is raises like a baton when fleeing.  The horns, found only in males, are like those of the reedbuck, angling back from the forehead, and curving around vertically so that the tips face forwards.  Ringed at the base, these horns grow 15-25 cm / 6-10 inches long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 6-7 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Sexual Maturity: 12-18 months.
Life span: 10-12 years.

Births occur in October and November, after which the fawn lies concealed for two weeks.

Ecology and Behavior

When it first senses danger, the dibatag conceals itself behind vegetation, standing motionless while peering over the top to keep track of the threat.  The dibatag's colouration, long, skinny legs and neck and sharply pointed head match the natural cover so well as to render the animal virtually invisible.  Once detected and advanced upon, the dibatag flees with its head arched back and the tail is carried erect like a baton.  The dibatag has a pronounced ambling gait in the form of a cross-trot (opposite legs moving together), and rarely do they gallop.  Males are territorial, marking their ranges with dung piles, which are visited daily.  Females are sometimes marked using preorbital gland secretions.  Due to their fragility and horn shape, dibatag males take special precautions when sparring.  Tucking their nose between their forelegs, they push and shove against their opponents horns and neck, attempting to throw the other off balance.  The long neck of the dibatag is used to reach higher vegetation.  However, if the leaves are still out of reach, the dibatag will, like the gerenuk, stand up on its hind legs, supporting itself with its forefeet in the tree.  Dibatags need little free water.

Family group: Solitary, in pairs, or in family parties with 3-6 animals.
Diet: Leaves of bushes and trees, shoots.
Main Predators: Cheetah, lion, hyena, Cape hunting dog.


Sandy areas with scattered thorn scrub and grass in eastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The dibatag is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (1996).


Dibatag is from dabu (Somali) tail and tag (Somali) erect, a reference to the position of the tail in flight.  Ammos (Greek) sand, a sandy place; dorkas (Greek) a gazelle: a reference to its desert-like habitat.  The first specimen was obtained by T.W.H. Clarke

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Ammodorcas clarkei.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Kingdon, J.  1997.  The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals.  Academic Press, London and New York: NaturalWorld.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walther, F. R. 1990.  Gazelles and related species.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5, pp. 462-484.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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