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

Nanger dama

      Dama gazelle, Addra gazelle


Nanger dama [Pallas, 1766].  
Citation: Misc. Zool., p. 5.
Type locality: Africa, near Lake Chad.

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

General Characteristics

Body Length: 140-165 cm / 4.6-5.5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 90-120 cm / 3-4 ft.
Tail Length: 25-35 cm / 10-14 in.
Weight: 40-75 kg / 88-165 lb.

The coloration of the coat is quite variable, and is used to distinguish subspecies.  The coat is bright white, with reddish brown or chestnut on the neck.  However, as one travels from east to west through this species' range, the extent of coloration increases dramatically, with the western-most subspecies being almost completely red except for the undersides and rump.  All races have a small white patch on the throat.  The face has relatively few markings, being completely white in eastern subspecies, but with red cheek patches and thin black stripes running from the eyes to the corners of the mouth in the western subspecies - the Mhorr gazelle.  The body is supported by thin legs, and the neck is long and slender.  The horns are found in both sexes, though are generally larger and thicker in males.  They are "S" shaped, slanting backwards, then curling upwards, growing 20-43 cm / 8-17 inches long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 6.5 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: By 6 months.
Sexual Maturity: Females at 9-12 months, males at 18-24 months.
Life span: 12 years.

Breeding takes place from March to June, and the young born around December.

Ecology and Behavior

A diurnal species, this gazelle requires more water than others adapted to its dry habitat, although it can survive long periods of draught.   Like most desert species, the dama gazelle is highly nomadic, ranging widely in order to obtain sufficient nutrition.  In addition, these gazelles undertake large seasonal migrations, moving north into the Sahara desert during the rainy season, and retreating south into the Sahel during the dry season.  To maximize the amount of food available, these gazelles may stand on their hind legs in a manner reminiscent of the gerenuk in order to reach leaves above the normal browsing height.  Adult males are believed to be territorial during the breeding season.

Family group: Mixed herds of about 15-20 animals.
Diet: Acacia and bush leaves, grasses.
Main Predators: Cheetah, Cape hunting dog, lion, leopard, hyena, python.


Semidesert areas in pockets across north central Africa.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The dama gazelle is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996).  The dama gazelle has been wiped out in large numbers due to excessive hunting.


Ghazal (Arabic) a wild goat; -ellus (Latin) diminutive suffix.  Dama (also Damma) (Latin) a general name for a deer, an antelope, also dammar (Arabic) a sheep.

Literature Cited

Boitani, L., and S. Bartoli.  1982.  Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals.  New York: Fireside/Simon & Schuster, Inc.  Entry 389.

Happold, D. C. D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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

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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