An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

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

Gazella spekei

      Speke's gazelle


Gazella spekei [Blyth, 1863].  
Citation: Cat. Mamm. Mus. Asiat. Soc. Calcutta, p. 172.
Type locality: N Somalia.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 95-105 cm / 3.1-3.5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 50-60 cm / 1.6-2 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 15-25 kg / 33-55 lb.

The fawn or light tan coloured upper coat is separated from the white belly by a black flank stripe, which generally has a lighter band above it.  The white undersides encompass the buttocks, as well as the insides of the legs.  The nose of the Speke's gazelle is its most unique feature - three to five folds of skin which lie just behind the nostrils across the bridge of the nose can be inflated into a sac the size of half of a tennis ball.  Both sexes carry the horns although, like most gazelles, those in females are significantly smaller and thinner.  In males they may grow 25-31 cm / 10-12.4 inches in length, curving backwards in an "S".  Much straighter and steeper in females, they may grow 15-25 cm / 6-10 long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 6-7 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: After 2-3 months.
Sexual Maturity: Females around 9 months, males at 18 months.
Life span: 12 years.

Ecology and Behavior

Like most dwellers in a hot and dry environment, Speke's gazelle is primarily active in the early morning and evening, resting during the heat of the day.  As mentioned in the description, this gazelle has a sac on its nose which is inflated when the gazelle is excited.  The signature call of the Speke's gazelle - a loud, gunshot-like sneeze - is thought to be amplified by this makeshift resonance chamber.  Muscles surrounding the preorbital glands dispense secretions during periods of heightened excitement.

Family group: Small herds of up to 20 animals.
Diet: Grasses and leaves.
Main Predators: Cheetah, lion, Cape hunting dog, leopard, hyena, python.


Stony brush, grass steppes, and semideserts in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

Speke's gazelle is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (1996).


Ghazal (Arabic) a wild goat; -ellus (Latin) diminutive suffix.  Captain J. H. Speke (1827-1864) was an explorer of Central Africa.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Gazella spekei.  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.

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

Return to Artiodactyla

© Brent Huffman,
All rights reserved.
Questions or comments? Click here