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Goitered Gazelle: History, Facts, and Conservation Efforts

Eman is a writer and engineer. She loves to write about animal facts and many other topics.

Goitered Gazelle

Female Goitered Gazelle.

Female Goitered Gazelle.

Goitered gazelle belongs to the family of Bovidae, subfamily Antilopinae, and species Gazella. subgutturosa.

They inhabit deserts, sub-desert plains, calcareous plateaus, and gravel plains from northern China and Mongolia to the Arabian Peninsula.

Small groups are found in western and southern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Also, it can be found in northern Saudi Arabia, the Empty Quarter desert, Oman, the central deserts of Iran, all over the United Arab Emirates, and south-eastern Turkey.

Goitered gazelles are fully adapted to dry and hot desert status. They live in the foothills and mountain valleys. Their habitats are distributed from clay and sandy soils to basaltic deserts or salt flats. In winter, they inhabit snowless areas and use deep valleys, low mountain canyons, or dense shrubs as shelter from the winds.

They are herbivores; their diet often includes grass, legumes, and pumpkins. In agricultural areas, they eat fruits, barley sprouts, chickpeas, corn, melons, onions, sugar cane, oats, and wheat. They get most of their water from the plant they eat.

Goitered gazelle can climb to a height of 3,500 meters during the warmer months in Kazakhstan and can live in China in areas that reach up to 3,000 meters high.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the classification of goitered gazelle is vulnerable.

Male Goitered Gazelle.

Male Goitered Gazelle.

History

Goitered gazelle is one of the species that occupied a unique place in literature, folklore, and the arts of some peoples such as the Azerbaijani people.

Fossils of gazelles in the Caucasus go back two million years. Less than a century ago, herds of gazelles grazed abundantly in the lowlands and foothills of the Southern Caucasus.

Around 1900, goitered gazelle was abundant in nearly every desert or semi-desert region throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

The number of gazelles in the eastern Caucasus during the first half of the last century declined from tens of thousands to 200 specimens in the 1960s.

Also, in the mid-twentieth century, it was estimated that approximately one million goitered gazelle lived in the Soviet Union alone.

In 2001, the goitered gazelle population was estimated at 120,000 to 140,000. This major decline has occurred in the past decade, and the rate of decline is now measured at more than 30% over the past 10 years.

The declines are large in Kazakhstan, south-eastern Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Georgia, and Mongolia.

Goitered Gazelle

Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella marica) in the Dubai Desert Conservation Area, UAE.

Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella marica) in the Dubai Desert Conservation Area, UAE.

Subspecies

1. Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa marica).

2. Mongolian goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa hilleriana).

3. Persian goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa subgutturosa).

4. Yarkand gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa yarkandensis).

Description and Behaviour

Goitered gazelles have some characteristics and behaviors that distinguish them as follows:

  • Goitered gazelle is medium in size with light hooves, but they have a stronger body than most other Asian gazelle species.
  • Males are larger than females and have a larger goiter than females.
  • The weight of adult males ranges from 20 to 43 kg but adult females from 18 to 33 kg weight.
  • Adult males have long black horns, 203 to 340 mm long, close together at the base and curving away from each other towards the distal ends. Females generally do not have antlers.
  • Goitered gazelles have long ears and large black eyes.

Agility and Speed of Goitered Gazelle

  • Gazelles' colors range from white to brown with shades of gray, red, and yellow. Facial dandruff is often white and tends to fade with age.
  • There are hooves at the end of their long, slender legs. Goitered gazelle has a strong muscle in the posterior thigh joint to enable strong traction that stabilizes it while jogging on rough terrain. They can run at a speed of 65 km/h.
  • They have a relatively short tail covered with dark brown or black hair.
  • Mating occurs from September to December. Male performances during courtship include neck pulls, swollen glands, nose-up position, and front leg kicking.
  • Goitered gazelles form large herds in winter, while females leave in small groups of 1 or 2 pregnant females. Most males mate 2 to 12 females, but some males do not mate at all.
  • Generally, these gazelles mature within one year, but the female can become pregnant at the age of 5 months.
  • Males can have offspring at 10.5 months of age; however, they do not usually mate before 1.5 to 2.5 years and can still conceive for more than 10 years.
  • Pregnancy lasts from 148 to 159 days. Females move to areas of higher ground before birth. Calves are usually born between March and May.
  • Most adult females give birth to twins, but generally young and adult females give birth to one gazelle.

Goitered Gazelle

goitered-gazelle-history-facts-and-efforts-to-recover-it
  • On average, calves weigh 1.86 kg at birth and are completely weaned at 6 months of age, and are not under parental care.
  • After birth, calves can stand and suckle in 10 to 15 minutes as well as the females tend to graze 50 to 500 meters from their young and seek out a new lair for the calves.
  • If the female gives birth to twins, they will often be 50 to 1000 meters apart for the first 4 to 6 days. Babies are nursed 2 to 4 times per day for the first 6 weeks and are nursed for at least 3 to 6 months.
  • Young gazelle can graze and drink water at 4 to 6 weeks of age.
  • At the age of 18 to 19 months, gazelle reaches puberty size. The horn grows at 3 to 6 months of age and 1 to 1.5 years complete. Male horns continue to grow until the age of 6 years.
  • Goitered gazelles communicate using a series of deep grunts, wheezing, and hissing. They often hiss as an alarm. Females make hoarse, low-pitched noises to summon their young.
  • During the breeding season, males make a low whistling sound that can be heard from 100 to 150 meters away. They also use glandular secretions to demarcate and communicate with their species, especially during the breeding season.

Goitered Gazelle

Persian Goitered Gazelle.

Persian Goitered Gazelle.

Importance

Goitered gazelles have an important role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem as it is an important food source for a number of different carnivores.

With a decrease in the number of goitered gazelle and so do the animals that depend on it. For example, the decline in leopard numbers is due to reduced gazelle numbers and loss of habitat as well.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, two gazelle species have become extinct while 10 others are listed as vulnerable or endangered in North Africa, and as prey species decline, more leopards are turning to livestock to prey on them. Hence, these leopards are killed by livestock keepers.

As a result, one of the main directions for leopard preservation is to restore wild prey species such as gazelles.

The Main Threats to Goitered Gazelle

The main reasons that lead to the extinction of goitered gazelle:

  1. The unrestricted poaching for their meat and skins.
  2. Habitat destruction is primarily due to economic and agricultural development.
  3. Harsh winters in Central Asia also have a major negative effect on the goitered gazelle.

Goitered Gazelle

Males Sand Gazelle.

Males Sand Gazelle.

Efforts to Recover Goitered Gazelle

In Azerbaijan, goitered gazelles have been introduced to five nature reserves, three national parks, and four sanctuaries. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, in cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, IDEA, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, has started a project to re-introduce gazelles into their historical collection.

The Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has completed a project aimed at assessing the genetic diversity of goitered gazelle populations in forests. Today, these forests are home to more than 55,000 gazelle.

In Qatar, the sand gazelle reached the limits of extinction in the fifties of the twentieth century due to hunting, but it was re-launched in some reserves such as Ras al-Burooq Island, where it began to multiply and grow.

In Saudi Arabia, goitered gazelles were re-released in many reserves, and numbers of them are also found at the Wildlife Research Center in Thamama.

Oman launched a conservation project for sand gazelles to multiplying them and returning them to their natural habitats.

Also, most of the countries inhabited by goitered gazelle have designated protected areas for these animals to live in.

Sources

https://www.iucnredlist.org/.

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

https://lsa.umich.edu/ummz/.

https://www.ead.gov.ae/ar/discover-our-biodiversity/mammals/arabian-sand-gazelle... Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

https://www.iucn.org/news/eastern-europe-and-central-asia/201703/reintroducing-goitered-gazelle-azerbaijan.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Eman Abdallah Kamel

Comments

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on December 10, 2020:

Thank you, Chrish, for reading the article. Arabs call the goitered gazelle al-Reem because of its beauty they give this name to beautiful girls. I always appreciate your comments

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on December 08, 2020:

It's my pleasure, Ankita. I appreciate your comment.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on December 08, 2020:

Now I know why does people gave them a strange name. Interesting facts! They're beautiful creatures, I hope their freedom will remain respected. Have an awesome day;-)

Ankita B on December 08, 2020:

This was interesting to read. I didn't know about this wonderful animal before and thoroughly enjoyed reading this well-structured article. Thank you for sharing.

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on December 07, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy. You're right, goitered gazelles are very beautiful animals and play an important role in maintaining ecological balance. I appreciate your visit and comment.

Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on December 07, 2020:

Thank you, Linda, for reading the article. I am really glad that you enjoyed reading it. I always appreciate your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 07, 2020:

I have never heard of goitered gazelles. They are beautiful animals, and I hope that their numbers can be increased to keep the balance of nature intact. Thanks for writing this informative article.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 07, 2020:

Thank you for creating this informative article, Eman. Though I've read about other gazelles, I've never heard of the goitered one before. I'm glad I've learned about it.

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