Gazella cuvieri [Ogilby, 1841].
Citation: Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1840:35 .
Type locality: Morocco, Mogador.
The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993). Cuvier's
gazelle belongs to the subgenus Gazella, although some authors consider
it to be either in a group by itself or allied with
G. leptoceros and
G. subgutturosa (subgenus
Trachelocele) (see Wilson and Reeder, 1993; Groves, 2000). Cuvier's gazelle,
while treated as a full species here, is sometimes listed as a subspecies
of the mountain gazelle, G. gazella (see Wilson and Reeder, 1993).
This gazelle is presently considered to be monotypic, although genetic
differences between populations have not been studied (de Smet, 1991). Synonyms
for G. cuvieri include G. cinerascens, G. corinna, and
G. vera (Wilson and Reeder, 1993).
Few measurements for Gazella cuvieri are available, in part because
it is sometimes included within G. gazella. Males are slightly larger
than females by weight, but linear measurements are similar between the sexes.
|Reported measurements for Cuvier's gazelle
||Head & Body Length
For G. gazella, including cuvieri
Cuvier's gazelle is one of the darkest gazelle species, with an overall
grayish-brown coat (Walther, 1990; Kingdon, 1997). A wide dark band runs
along the flank, separating the brown upper parts from the white belly. The
white underside extends upwards between the hind legs to include the rump,
where it is separated from the upper body coloration on each side by a vertical
stripe which is nearly black in color. The tail is relatively thin, and is
black along its entire length, creating three dark lines down the rump when
seen from behind (Walther, 1990).
The face has clear striping typical of gazelles, with a dark stripe running
from the inner corner of each eye almost to the corner of the mouth (Kingdon,
1997). Medial to these dark stripes are thicker stripes which are nearly
white. The most conspicuous and tell-tale facial marking is a large oval
black spot which sits saddle-like across the bridge of the nose (Walther,
1990; Kingdon, 1997). The ears are long, narrow, and pale in color (Kingdon,
Both sexes of Cuvier's gazelle bear horns, although those of the females
are thinner and smoother than those of males (Walther, 1990; Kingdon, 1997).
Relatively straight in profile compared to other gazelles, the horns rise
vertically from the forehead and diverge slightly outward and backwards (Kingdon,
1997). Heavy ridges circle the horns along most of their length (especially
prominent in males), while the tips are smooth and typically curve forwards
(Kingdon, 1997). Kingdon (1997) reports horn length as 25-37 cm long, the
same as that given by Walther (1990) for male G. gazella (including
cuvieri). Walther (1990) gives measurements of 20-30 cm for the horns
typically breeds in early winter during which time
males become territorial (Sellami and Bouredjli, 1991; Kingdon, 1997). The
resulting births occur between March and May, although several authors have
observed a secondary peak in births around October (Olmedo et al.
1985; Sellami and Bouredjli, 1991; Kingdon, 1997). Captive births at Almeria,
Spain showed a primary birthing period in spring from late March to early
April (71% of births) and a secondary peak in autumn from mid-October to
mid-November (Olmedo et al.
, 1985). These birth peaks coincided with
the times of increased rainfall in Spain, which has a similar precipitation
pattern to the gazelle's native range in Morocco (Olmedo et al.
Among captive females, there is a 41% chance of a second birth in the same
year (Olmedo et al.
The gestation period is approximately 160 days (Olmedo et al., 1985).
Prior to giving birth, an expectant mother will separate herself from
conspecifics for a few days. Unusual among African gazelles, G. cuvieri
has frequent twins (40.5% of births), with singlets being produced primarily
by young (especially primiparous) mothers (Olmedo et al., 1985). Birth
weight for singlets averages 2.995 kg; twins are smaller, weighing 2.582
kg at birth on average (Alados and Escós, 1994).
Females may breed as soon as 10 days after giving birth, resulting in an
interbirth interval as short as 170 days (Olmedo et al., 1985). Youngsters
begin trying solid food by one month of age, although they continue suckling
during this time (Alados and Escós, 1994). Females may reach sexual
maturity as early as 26 or 27 weeks, and may give birth to their first offspring
at 70 weeks of age (Olmedo et al., 1985; Sellami and Bouredjli, 1991).
Sellami and Bouredjli (1991) observed that wild females were generally
accompanied by two young animals, which they assumed to be one from the present
year and one born in the previous year, although they gave no explanation
in light of frequent twinning and two breeding seasons.
Cuvier's gazelle inhabits a variety of habitats in the Atlas mountains, ranging
from open oak (Quercus
) forests to desert and stony plateaus from
sea level up to 2,600 m above sea level (de Smet, 1991; Mallon and Cuzin,
2008). There is a preference for stony and sandy ground on hills and plateaus,
likely due to inaccessibility and reduced human impact in such regions (Kingdon,
1997). Most Algerian Cuvier's gazelles live in Aleppo pine forests (Pinus
),with understory oaks (Quercus ilex
, Q. coccifera
, with herbs such as Globularia
and a grass, alfa (Stipa tenacissima
), in open areas
and in patches of regenerating forest (de Smet, 1991). The southern part
of the gazelle's range in Algeria (where the pines thin) and on high plateaus
(over 1000 m elevation) in Morocco and Algeria is characterized by more open
pastures of Stipa
grass interspersed with scrub mosaic (de Smet, 1991;
Loggers et al.
Young G. cuvieri are sometimes preyed upon by jackals, but most of
the natural predators of adult Cuvier's gazelle have been extirpated and
replaced by human threats (Sellami and Bouredjli, 1991). This species feeds
on grasses, herbs, and shrubs, and may also eat crops in farmers fields
especially in areas where wheat is traditionally grown (de Smet, 1991; Kingdon,
lives in small groups which typically contain fewer than
eight animals (Kingdon, 1997). Group size averages 3.71 individuals, with
nearly half (44.87%) of these groups being harems with one adult male and
a few adult females, accompanied by their recent youngsters (Sellami and
Bouredjli, 1991; Kingdon, 1997). Mixed groups, with at least two males and
two females, were observed by Sellami and Bouredjli (1991) at the beginning
of the rut from July to October. During the rut, young males are forced out
of their maternal herds and band together in bachelor groups; they may
subsequently be joined by males evicted during fights for females. Once formed,
the harems will remain together throughout the winter, breaking up as females
leave to give birth. As a result of this separation, solitary males are observed
primarily during April, when females give birth (Sellami and Bouredjli, 1991).
Interestingly, solitary females comprised one third of observations made
by Sellami and Bouredjli (1991). The Algerian population of Cuvier's gazelle
studied by Sellami and Bouredjli (1991) was predominated by adult females
(58.24%), while adult males (20.87%), young (15.92%), and subadults (5.05%)
existed in significantly lower numbers.
This species appears to be highly variable in its movements: some animals
appear to be sedentary, while others may be nomadic or migratory (Mallon
and Cuzin, 2008). When territories are held by males (usually in early winter),
they tend to be widely spaced and marked with dung piles in each valley in
the region (de Smet, 1991; Kingdon, 1997). In areas of dense cover, these
latrines have been used to detect the presence of gazelles and can be related
to the density of individuals in some cases (de Smet, 1991). Walther (1990)
states that Cuvier's gazelles will also mark objects using their preorbital
glands. Cuvier's gazelles typically spend the days among cover in hilly terrain
and descend to valleys to graze at night or in early morning (de Smet, 1991).
is endemic to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa; the
species is currently found only on inaccessible plateaus in Northern Algeria
and Morocco (Loggers et al.
, 1992; Kingdon, 1997). Records from Tunisia
and Western Sahara are scarce; this species may have been extirpated from
Western Sahara, although a small population is believed to survive in Tunisia
(Mallon and Cuzin, 2008).
Countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Western Sahara (Mallon and
(Redrawn from IEA, 1998; current localities adapted from de Smet, 1991 [Algeria]
and Loggers et al., 1992 [Morocco])
G. cuvieri is classified as endangered (Criteria C2a(i)) by the IUCN
(Mallon and Cuzin, 2008), and is currently (2009) on CITES Appendix I. This
gazelle is threatened due to a highly fragmented population, which hinders
genetic migration and increases the risk of localized extinction. Accurate
population censuses are difficult to perform in the forested areas within
the range of Cuvier's gazelle, although de Smet (1991) estimated the Algerian
population at 560, with the caveat that this may be an underestimate. Mallon
and Cuzin (2008) estimate the global wild population at 1,750 to 2,950 (with
a range country breakdown of Morocco: 900 to 2,000; Algeria: 560; and Tunisia:
300 to 400). Major threats to Cuvier's gazelles are overhunting (they are
poached using leg snares) and habitat degradation due to overgrazing by livestock
and charcoal production (Kingdon, 1997; Mallon and Cuzin, 2008).
The common name gazelle, as well as the genus name, are derived from the
Arabic word ghazal
, meaning a wild goat; coupled with the diminutive
Latin suffix -ellus
. Baron G. L. Cuvier
(1769-1832) was a Professor
of Natural History in France, and a famous anatomist (Gotch, 1995).
(sometimes spelled idmi
) is a local Arabic name (Gotch,
Edmi (Kingdon, 1997)
Gazelle de Cuvier (Mallon and Cuzin, 2008)
Echtgazelle (Kingdon, 1997)
Gacela de Cuvier (Mallon and Cuzin, 2008)