An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

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

Gazella leptoceros

      Slender-horned gazelle, Rhim


Gazella leptoceros [F. Cuvier, 1842].  
Citation: In E. Geoffroy and F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. Mammifères, pt. 4, 7(72):1-2, "Antilope aux longues cornes".
Type locality: Sudan, Sennar, but probably Egypt, between Giza and Wadi Natron.

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

General Characteristics

Body Length: 100-110 cm / 3.3-3.6 ft.
Shoulder Height: 65-72 cm / 2.1-2.4 ft.
Tail Length: 15-20 cm / 6-8 in.
Weight: 20-30 kg / 44-66 lb.

The slender-horned gazelle is the palest gazelle species, with a cream or yellow-white coloured body.  The undersides are pure white, and there is a faint flank stripe.  The facial markings are relatively faint, and are composed of a reddish nose stripe and bands running from the eyes to the nose.  The slender ears are situated behind the horns, which are found in both sexes.  In males, they are long, slender, and slighly "S" shaped, growing 30-41 cm / 1-1.3 feet long.  In females, they are singificantly smaller and slimmer, growing 20-38 cm / 8-15.2 inches in length.  The hoofs are somewhat broadened to ease travel on long stretches of sand.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 156-169 days.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: At about 3 months.
Sexual Maturity: Females at 6-9 months, males at 18 months.
Life span: 14 years.

Ecology and Behavior

Due to the extreme heat of its desert environment, the slender-horned gazelle feeds mostly at night and in the early morning.  At these times they are able to exploit the dew which has formed on the leaves and the higher water content in the plants.  All needed water is obtained in this fashion - slender-horned gazelles rarely need to drink water.  The slender-horned gazelle is a nomadic species, wandering the dunes in search of vegetation.  The main cooling mechanisms are the reflective white coat and a specially adapted nasal passage which allows for cooling of the blood.  Deceptively mild-mannered in appearance, slender-horned gazelles are known to become aggressive in captivity.  Males often battle fiercely when defending the loose territories they establish.

Family group: Male and female groups of 2-20 individuals.
Diet: Grasses, leaves.
Main Predators: Cheetah, Cape hunting dog, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, where still present in range.


Isolated pockets throughout the central Sahara Desert.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The slender-horned gazelle is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996).


One of the palest gazelle species, the slender-horned gazelle's creamy colour provides camouflage in its native desert habitat, and also gives this delicate ungulate its other name - the sand gazelle.  Ghazal (Arabic) a wild goat; -ellus (Latin) diminutive suffix.  Leptos (Greek) thin; keras (Greek) the horn of an animal.

Literature Cited

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

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© Brent Huffman,
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