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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Eudorcas rufina
Red gazelle
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Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Red gazelle
Eudorcas rufina
Rufous gazelle, gazelle rouge

The red gazelle is known only from three museum specimens (skins and skulls; all males) purchased in the Algerian ports of Algiers and Oran between 1877 and 1894. No live animals have ever been examined, and this species has never been reliably observed in the wild. Whether Eudorcas rufina represents a valid species is increasingly questioned: although purchased in North African markets, trade routes may have brought the specimens across the Sahara, and they may actually represent unusual red-fronted gazelles.

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 140 cm
Tail length: 16 cm (22 cm with terminal hairs)

The red gazelle - as chronicled in its original description - is generally similar to, but larger than, the red-fronted gazelle (Eudorcas rufifrons). The overall color is a bright reddish brown, with a narrow (2.5-4 cm wide) black stripe along the flanks between the front and rear legs. A pale band above this black stripe is distinct from the richly-colored back. The undersides are white, and the white rump is bordered by weakly-expressed dark stripes on the haunches. The tail is rufous with a black tip. The hooves are markedly heavier than in the red-fronted gazelle. The center of face is rich rufous in color, bordered on each side by indistinct pale streaks running from the eyes to the snout (these have much less contrast than in most other gazelles). The top of the head, cheeks, and sides of the neck are pale. The horns in the type specimen (male) are 29 cm long, and diverge slightly as they curve backward from the forehead and then slightly upward at the tips. There are strong transverse rings on the front surfaces. No female specimens have ever been identified.

Reproduction and Development

Nothing known.

Ecology and Behavior

Nothing known.

Habitat and Distribution

The three known specimens were all collected in Algeria, and it has long been assumed that this was a North African member of the genus Eudorcas. The rich color of the coat has lead to the inference that this species is not a desert-dweller. Some authors speculate that the red gazelle was from brush or forest in north-western Algeria, mentioning the regions between the cities of Frenda and Telagg (Telagh), and the Cheliff river valley in northern Algeria. None of these suggestions has ever been authenticated.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Data Deficient (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2012).

As early as 1936, the red gazelle was considered likely extinct, and many modern sources consider its extinction to have occurred prior to 1894 (when the species was first described in a publication). Its current IUCN listing as "data deficient" is more indicative of its questionable taxonomic status than its possible persistence.

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