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Tom Kellie

Show us your gazelles...

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Gazella granti at Rest in Amboseli
Photographed at 9:47 am on 11 February, 2014 in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.
ISO 800, 1/2000 sec., f/5.6, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.
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One surprise for me on the initial safari to Kenya in August, 2011 was observing various species resting on the ground. While understandable, it was seldom depicted in guidebooks.
While on a morning game drive in Amboseli National Park, this Gazella granti, Grant's Gazelle, was placidly resting near the track, seemingly unruffled by our arrival.

 

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Hi@@Tom Kellie..

Help me differentiate between the grant gazelle , impala , thomson gazelle etc which look alike..

 

Also can you group the similar ones like

 

Little ones ...then medium sized(impala grants etc) and ...large ones like (topi hartebeest etc)

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Hi@@Tom Kellie..

Help me differentiate between the grant gazelle , impala , thomson gazelle etc which look alike..

 

Also can you group the similar ones like

 

Little ones ...then medium sized(impala grants etc) and ...large ones like (topi hartebeest etc)

 

~ @@gagan

 

That's a tall order for a fairly green safari enthusiast.

I'm not your man for this, as lately I've ‘whiffed at bat’ on far too many recent bird identifications.

There are several first class antelope specialists on Safaritalk. If you look in the Wildlife photography section you'll see who is especially skilled in antelope taxonomy and identification.

My approach to identification is an amateur's methodology — using a simple field guide and looking at the images.

While I'm flattered that you'd ask, I must urge you to inquire of those Safaritalk members with greater experience and superior perception of antelope species characteristics.

I apologize for being under-qualified to assist you with this.

Tom K.

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Samburu Stalwart



Photographed at 4:44 pm on 28 April, 2014 in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.


ISO 800, 1/8000 sec., f/4, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


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Most of the male Grant's Gazelles I've seen in Kenya have been grazing at a distance, with no opportunity for a close-range image. In Samburu the opportunity finally arrived.


This fellow was fairly near the gravelly track. When we stopped, he looked up, but remained where he had been standing long enough for this portrait to be made.

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I did a mini-safari drive at the Dubai Desert Conservation area last year. It was a canned, touristy (but fun) experience and was my only chance to get out of the city and see some wildlife. I didn’t have a camera but was lucky enough to see both Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelle. One of my colleagues that did the drive with me snapped a few pictures and is finally sorting through them. He sent along a distant shot of a Gazelle on a dune…hopefully he’ll come across pictures of the Oryx wwe saw and send that along too!

 

 

http://safaritalk.net/uploads/gallery/album_1406/gallery_5263_1406_979431.jpg

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~ @@PT123

 

I'm glad that you mentioned your experience.

During the past year I toyed with the possibility of staying in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days at Sir Bani Yas to see the species you've mentioned.

Are they comparable in size to what's seen during African game drives?

If those photos ever turn up, I'd enjoy seeing them.

Thank you for telling about your Dubai Desert Conservation visit.

Tom K.

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Hi @Tom Kellie

 

From what I recall and could tell they were about the same size. It is a bit difficult to judge as sightings of both species were of solitary individuals on a dune (with no trees, other animals, etc.) to provide a sense of scale. Even though it was a bit of a packaged experience I am glad that I did it or else I would never have been able to see these species in the wild.

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Straightforward Gazelle



Photographed at 5:16 pm on 2 May, 2015 in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.


ISO 800, 1/5000 sec., f/8, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


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Wending our way down a track I noticed a male Grant's Gazelle standing where would pass. I assumed that before we came that far, the gazelle would have walked away to maintain a safe distance.


I was mistaken. The gazelle stood its ground, seemingly unfazed by our presence. I enjoyed seeing the characteristic eye masks at close range.



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Posted (edited)

Great photos @Tom Kellie I thought it was time for an update, I hope then perhaps a few other members might add some photos.

 

@jeremie

 

According to the latest taxonomic revision there are 37 different species of gazelles, but as is always the case some of the newly elevated species are not recognised by some taxonomists so the actual number is disputed. Of these different species there are either 15 or 17 found in Africa, the other 20 or so occur from Israel and Gulf States across Central Asia to India, Tibet and Mongolia.

 

The African species according to Kingdon’s Mammals of Africa and the second edition of the Kingdon field guide are as follows.

 

Rhim, Loder’s or slender-horned gazelle Gazella leptoceros

Cuvier’s, Edmi or Atlas gazelle Gazella cuvieri

Dorcas gazelle Gazella dorcas (includes Pelzeln’s)

Speke’s gazelle Gazella spekei

 

Red-fronted gazelle Eudorcas rufifrons

Eritrean or Heuglin’s gazelle Eudorcas tilonura

Mongalla gazelle Eudorcas albonotatus

Thomson’s gazelle Eudorcas thomsonii

 

Peter’s gazelle Nanger petersi

Grant’s gazelle Nanger granti

Bright’s gazelle Nanger notata

Soemerrings gazelle Nanger soemmerringii

Dama gazelle Nanger dama

 

Gerenuk Litocranius wallerii

 

Dibatag ammodorcas clarkei

 

In the recent book Bovids of the World by José R. Castelló Pelzeln’s gazelle is elevated to a full species Gazella pelzelnii separate from the dorcas gazelle and the gerenuk is split in two species northern Litocranius sclateri and southern Litocranius wallerii

 

Whether there are 15 or 17 African species all of these gazelles are confined to Northern, Western, Central and Eastern Africa there are no gazelle species in Southern Africa, the southernmost gazelles are a population of Grant’s gazelles found in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park.

 

Although it does closely resembles a gazelle the springbok Antidorcas marsupialis found in Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa  is not a gazelle, again depending on your point of view there is either 1 species or according to Bovids of the World 3 species of springbok. Unlike gazelles the springbok has a dorsal crest of white hair which can be erected, this crest is otherwise hidden underneath two folds of skin that form a pouch lined with scent glands, hence the scientific name marsupialis ‘pouched’ from the Latin marsupium meaning pouch.

 

Given their similarity in appearance to gazelles I was going to suggest that perhaps springbok photos should be added to this thread but I see there's already a photo in the Show us your small antelope species thread so maybe that is a more appropriate place as they're not gazelles.

 

Sadly due to a combination of uncontrolled hunting and competition with and habitat degradation caused by livestock has markedly reduced the population of some of these gazelle species bringing them close to extinction in the wild. Several of them are listed as endangered by the IUCN and their populations are still decreasing, this coupled with the fact that they are living in some pretty remote, inhospitable and in some cases fairly unfriendly locations makes, getting to see some of these species in the wild a little difficult.  For example the Dibatag is found only in Somalia and the neighbouring Ogaden Region of Ethiopia, visiting Somalia is out of the question and the Ogaden likewise I would think, as it is subject to serious travel warnings. The northern part of Somalia known as Somaliland which declared independence some years ago, but is not internationally recognised is safe to visit and it may be possible to see Pelzeln’s and Speke’s gazelle there which are endemic to this region. 

 

Fortunately good numbers of some of these endangered gazelles exist in captivity providing a source of animals for reintroductions and an insurance policy should they become extinct in the wild. I hope that at some point in the future someone may add some wild or semi-wild photos of some of these rarer off the beaten track species in the meanwhile I will add some of my shots taken in captivity and later on some shots of some of the wild gazelles I’ve seen.

 

 

Dama Gazelle

 

The dama or addra gazelle (Nanger dama) is the largest gazelle species, once extremely common around the fringes of the Sahara Desert particularly in the arid wooded grasslands of the Sahel this species shared almost the exact the same distribution as the scimitar-horned oryx. Severe habitat degradation cause by the overgrazing of livestock and out of control hunting following the arrival of motor vehicles and modern firearms in the region has had huge impact on large Sahelian/Saharan ungulates. Up until the 1950s dama gazelles were still common throughout much of their range but between the 50s and the 70s numbers declined markedly in large part because of Arab hunting parties driving out into the desert in search of animals to hunt. Dama are large conspicuous animals which made them an easy target for these hunting parties  As a result they have been wiped out across much of their range, a major stronghold for the species has always been the Ouadi Rimé Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad in the 1970s there were estimated to be between 10-12,000 of them in the reserve. As with other populations these animals were targeted by Arab hunters as recently as 2001 groups of hunters were going to Chad to hunt this critically endangered species, the hunting was at least temporarily halted after a local NGO kicked up a fuss.

 

The following is from the IUCN Redlist website

 

Quote

Since 2000, Dama Gazelles have been reported from only five sites: south Tamesna, eastern Mali (last record 2006); the Air massif and Termit/Tin Toumma N.N.R. in Niger, and the Manga region and Ouadi Rimé Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad (RZSS and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group 2014). Much of the former range has not been surveyed in recent years due to political instability and lack of security, and there is a very slight possibility that small groups may persist elsewhere. Unconfirmed local reports suggest that small populations may exist in two other locations, but as Dama Gazelles make long-distance movements, ‘new’ small groups may represent nomads not separate subpopulations (RZSS and IUCN Antelope Specialist Group 2014).

 

For a time the OROA Reserve was the frontline in the war between the Libyan backed FROLINAT rebels and Chadian government troops, making it too dangerous for the reserve’s rangers or other conservationists to operate there.  Oryx and gazelles were likely hunted for food by the warring sides, the oryx were ultimately hunted to extinction and the gazelle population significantly reduced to the point that it was thought that very few remained. Recent surveys have revealed that there are in fact still good numbers of dama gazelles in the OROA and this reserve offers the best hope for the survival of this beautiful species. 

 

Distribution map

 

A number of different subspecies have been described but it’s thought that only three of these have any validity, the catastrophic decline in the population of these gazelles has made it difficult to establish the relationship between the different races and where the boundaries were between them. If indeed they are different races at all in the far east of their range damas are very largely white all over except for the neck and shoulders which are rich red brown, in the centre of their range the brown colour extends all the way down their backs, in the far west they are a much darker chestnut brown and this colour extends right down to their hind legs and also their forelegs. Those in the east are classified as Nanger dama ruficollis those in the centre as Nanger dama dama and those in the far west as Nanger dama mhorr, however some taxonomists think that these subspecies may not be valid and that the colour change just represents a cline rather than distinct subspecies much as is thought to be the case with plains zebras. The question of whether or not the different subspecies are valid has important implications for the conservation of the dama gazelle. The dark animals found originally in the far west and north of their range are known as Mhorr gazelles these animals have been relentlessly hunted for what in Morocco they call Baid-el-Mhorr which means Mhorr’s eggs, this is in fact what’s known as a bezoar stone and is produced in the animals gut. Many animals (notably goats) produce bezoar stones in their guts, since ancient times people in Persia and further east have valued these bezoars for the fact that they are supposedly an antidote to all poisons and as such they are a popular ingredient in traditional medicines.  Having hunted out the Mhorr gazelles in the north of their range the Arabs would travel further and further south to find them eventually they were hunted to extinction in the wild. They now only survive in captivity and all of these animals are thought to descend from just four animals that were captured in the Western Sahara and taken to Spain, obviously the entire population is severely inbred. They may not always have done so in the past but these days zoos involved in captive breeding programs take great care to avoid mixing different subspecies to maintain their genetic integrity. If the different subspecies of dama are not valid then it would make sense to breed some of these Mhorr gazelles with other captive dama gazelles that are currently regarded as belonging to the subspecies  Nanger dama ruficollis these animals are descendents of a herd captured at Ouadi Haouach  close to the OROA Faunal Reserve in Chad in this case there were more founders around 20 so these animals are less inbred. There are enough of these two forms in captivity now that an experiment should be set up to crossbreed some of them as is suggested in the following scientific paper on this issue.

 

Splitting or Lumping? A Conservation Dilemma Exemplified by the Critically Endangered Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama)

 

While extinct in the wild the Mhorr gazelle has been introduced/reintroduced into fenced reserves in Morocco at Souss Massa where they are being bred for release into the wild further south and at Guembeul Reserve and Ferlo Nord Reserves in Senegal.  The first re-established population was in the Bou Hedma National Park in Tunisia this attempted reintroduction or perhaps introduction as the park may be outside their original range has failed, the population never became properly established and declined to just three animals. The reasons for this are not clear but it’s thought that poaching was a significant factor and likely predation of newborns by jackals  I have read a news article from  a couple of years ago stating that these gazelles will be reintroduced to Mauretania but as far as I can tell this has not happened.

 

There are no animals of the typical dama race Nanger dama dama in captivity.

 

There is a significant population of N. d. ruficollis gazelles in zoos in the US now and also on hunting ranches in Texas so besides possible problems with inbreeding their future is pretty secure.

 

The following photos were taken at Marwell Zoo near Winchester in the UK where they used to have a good sized herd of these animals, these animals are descendants of the animals originally caught at Ouadi Houach in Chad, and Marwell was the first zoo in the UK to breed them. The most recent surveys suggest that the population of these gazelles in the Ouadi Rime Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad is doing well enough that a reintroduction of this subspecies of the dama gazelle should not prove necessary.  The recent reintroduction of the scimitar-horned oryx into the OROA should ensure that the gazelles will be much better protected as additional rangers will have been employed to protect the oryx.

 

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Edited by inyathi
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The Mhorr gazelles first taken into captivity were sent to Spain’s Experimental Station of Arid Zones (EEZA) in Almeria the only desert region in Europe as mentioned earlier they came from the now disputed territory of Western Sahara which was formerly a Spanish colony. As the animals in this herd were the only known mhorr left it was decided that having all their eggs in one basket was not wise and new herds should be established elsewhere. While reintroduction to the wild was the ultimate aim there was nowhere in Africa safe enough to attempt this with so few animals, in the 1980s the decision was taken that it would be best to send some to other zoos to create new herds. Some of these gazelles were sent to San Diego Zoo and for some time they had a breeding herd there. Sometime I guess a few years back the decision was taken that zoos in America should focus on breeding N. d. ruficollis and zoos in Europe on breeding N. d. mhorr. This I would I guess must be why Marwell zoo no longer have their herd of dama gazelles, they must have been sent to the US, the photos above were taken in 05 and 07 when I last visited in 2010 they no longer had these gazelles. Likewise as far as I can see from their website San Diego no longer have Mhorr gazelles. The mhorrs would have been sent to Europe or even to Africa.

 

These scanned slides of mhorr gazelles at San Diego Zoo were taken in 2002.

 

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Conservation Review of the Dama Gazelle

 

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Posted (edited)

Soemmerring's Gazelle

 

This species Nanger Soemmerringii is found in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia it also occurred in Sudan in the past but is believed to be extinct there. The major threat to this species is again uncontrolled hunting and competition with and habitat degradation caused by livestock, these problems have been exacerbated by the conflicts that have blighted this region. As a result populations of Soemmerring’s gazelle are declining everywhere there are really now only two protected populations one that was introduced to the Dahlak Islands in the Red Sea off the Eritrean Coast and the other is in Awash NP and the nearby Aledhegi Wildlife Reserve in Ethiopia. In recent years these gazelles have declined in Awash I don’t know about Aledhegi, illegal grazing of livestock is a major problem for the gazelles and other large herbivores in Awash, the authorities really need to get on top of this problem somehow but I guess they don’t want to seriously antagonise the Afar communities around the park. However if the Afar continue to take their cattle and other livestock into the park further degrading the habitat and competing with the wildlife animals like the Soemmerring’s gazelle could disappear like the giraffes and buffalos that once lived in the park. Fortunately as with its close relative the dama there’s a good population of these gazelles in captivity and they also had a herd of them at the San Diego Zoo whether they still do I don’t know.

 

Distribution map

 

The following shots are all scanned slides

 

These first two shot are from San Diego zoo

 

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These wild shots were taken in Awash NP when I visited there in 99

 

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Crop from the previous shot

 

I had thought that I had at least one better photo from Awash than these ones, but evidently not, however I’m pleased to see that @Atravelynn has just added a better one to her report, Above the Clouds. Exploring Ethiopia´s Extraordinary Endemics with I suspect more to follow, I’m sure there must also be photos in other Ethiopian reports here.

 

Edited by inyathi
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