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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Eudorcas rufifrons
Red-fronted gazelle
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Classification
 

Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
Order:
Suborder:
Family:
Subfamily:
Tribe:
Genus:

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Cetartiodactyla
Ruminantia
Bovidae
Antilopinae
Antilopini
Eudorcas

Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Red-fronted gazelle
Eudorcas rufifrons
Heuglin's gazelle, Gazelle à front roux, Gazelle corinne, Rotstirngazelle, Gacela de frente roja

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 90-110 cm
Shoulder height: 65-70 cm
Tail length: 20-30 cm
Adult weight: 25-30 kg

Male and female red-fronted gazelles are similar in size. The coat is generally red-fawn in color, except for the undersides and rump which are white. A characteristically narrow (2-4 cm high) black band runs from the elbow to the stifle (hind leg); a band of rufous hair separates the dark stripe from the white underparts. The tail has a black tuft. The rich red centre of the face is bordered by a pair of white stripes that run from the eye to the corner of the mouth (these are echoed by a dark stripe beneath). The horns, which have a slight "s-curve", are found in both sexes. Those of females are smooth, thin, and fairly straight, growing 15-40 cm long. In males, the horns are much thicker and have deep rings; they may grow 22-40 cm.

Similar species
  • Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) and Mongalla gazelle (E. albonotata) are closely related, but are readily distinguished from the red-fronted gazelle by their very wide black side-stripes.
  • The dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas), which shares parts of the red-fronted gazelle's range, lacks the black side-stripe (it is reddish instead), and has horns which are more curved.

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 184-189 days.
Litter size: 1.
Weaning: Likely around 3 months.
Sexual maturity: Based on the closely-related Thomson's gazelle, females may breed as early as 9 months, while males may not mature until 18 months.
Life span: Up to 14.5 years in captivity.

Breeding in the wild occurs throughout most of the year. Typical of "hider" species, infants are cached by their mothers and visited for nursing.

Ecology and Behavior

Red-fronted gazelles are not well-adapted to arid conditions. They will feed along the southern edge of the Sahara during the rains, but must migrate southward during the dry season in order to find sufficient water. Even where relatively common, population densities are generally low (0.3-0.7 animals per km2). When alarmed, this species produces a series of short "wheezy snorts" while pinching the nostrils forward.
Family group: Solitary, in pairs or small groups. Herds usually have no more than 6 individuals, although occasional sightings of up to 15 gazelles have been made.
Diet: Primarily grasses, but also leaves from trees and shrubs.
Main Predators: Most large carnivores, including cheetah, African wild dog, lion, leopard, and hyena.

Habitat and Distribution

Red-fronted gazelles show a preference for open grassy habitats interspersed with thorny brush and trees for shade. They avoid heavily wooded areas, and may be found at elevations up to 1,400 m in Ethiopia. Unable to tolerate desert conditions, this species is found in the Sahelian zone which stretches across the African continent along the southern edge of the Sahara desert. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(Redrawn from IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group, 2008)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Vulnerable (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2011).
Threats: Hunting, overgrazing by livestock, and clearing of land for agriculture.

Although formerly widespread, red-fronted gazelles have lost much of their habitat and now survive in small, fragmented populations. The estimated total number of red-fronted gazelles is perhaps 25,000 individuals, most of which live outside of protected areas. Chad, Mali, and Niger have the largest populations.

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