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Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs
Body Length: 90-115 cm / 3-3.8 ft.
Shoulder Height: 60-80 cm / 2-2.6 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 18-33 kg / 40-73 lb.
The light brown body darkens towards the belly, where it joins with the white underparts in a crisp line. The typical facial marking of gazelles are pronounced only in juveniles - with age the forehead and nose bridge turn white, with only the brown eye-nose stripe remaining. The tail is black in colour, conspicuous against the white buttocks when raised in flight. Unlike the rest of the "true gazelles", only the male goitered gazelle carries horns, which grow 25-43 cm / 10-17.2 inches long. Black in colour and sharply diverging, the horns form an "S" shaped, bending up backwards, and turning in at the tips. During the rut, the larynx of males bulges outwards, resembling a goiter.
Ontogeny and Reproduction
Gestation Period: 5-6 months.
Young per Birth: 1 or 2, rarely up to 4
Weaning: After 4-5 months.
Sexual Maturity: Females at 9 months, males around 18 months.
Life span: 10-12 years.
Unlike many gazelles, the goitered gazelle has a restricted breeding season. This occurs from November to January, with the resulting births taking place in April and May. The young lie camouflaged away from their mothers for the first 2 weeks, gaining strength and stability on their wobbly legs. The mother generally returns to nurse three times each day.
Ecology and Behavior
During the summer, most activity takes place in the late afternoon and early morning, consisting of leisurely walking and simultaneous grazing. At midday, herds take shelter in the shade, where they excavate shallow oval-shaped pits to lie in. During the cooler winter months, this midday break is significantly reduced, and sometimes even eliminated. If disturbed from its shelter, a goitered gazelle rapidly flees for 200-300 meters, pausing to assess the danger from this distance. A broad circular path is then taken back to the original resting spot. Extremely speedy, these gazelles can run up to 60 kmph / 36 mph. Each animal generally consumes about 30% of its body weight in green matter per day, and can derive most of its needed moisture from it. In the spring and summer, groups may travel to water sources, but even still they rarely drink daily. Herds cover 10-30 kilometers per day in the winter, with these distances being reduced nearly tenfold in summer. Throughout much of their range, goitered gazelles undergo a seasonal migrations. During the breeding season, adult males become territorial, using dung middens placed at strategic locations to indicate ownership. At this time, males emit hoarse bellows, and glandular activity increases significantly, with the result that the male is often seen smearing secretions on objects.
Family group: In summer, small family groups of 2-5 animals; In winter, large herds with dozens or even hundreds of individuals.
Diet: Grasses, leaves, and shoots.
Main Predators: Leopard, wolf.
Deserts, semi-deserts, hilly plains, and plateaus in southern and central Asia.
Range Map (Redrawn from Walther, 1990)
The goitered gazelle is classified as a low risk, near threatened species by the IUCN (1996). Additionally, G. s. marica is considered vulnerable.
One of the most un-gazelle-like gazelles, the goitered gazelle has been placed in its own subgenus: Trachelocele. Goiter is a condition in which the thyroid gland expands (usually due to a lack of iodine in the diet). While these gazelles do not actually have goiter, the expanded throats of males in the breeding season resembles the condition. Ghazal (Arabic) a wild goat; -ellus (Latin) diminutive suffix. Sub (Latin) below; guttur (Latin) the throat; -osus (Latin) suffix meaning full of: the males of this species get an enlargement of the neck and throat during the breeding season.
Heptner, V. G., A. A. Nasimovich, and A. G. Bannikov. 1989. Mammals of the Soviet Union. New York: E.J. Brill. pp. 101-124.
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 http://nmnhwww.si.edu/msw/
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© Brent Huffman, www.ultimateungulate.com