Slender-horned GazelleGazella leptoceros
FamilyBovidae, The cow and goat family.
Conservation StatusEndangered, IUCN.
RangeAfrica, The Sahara Desert west of the Nile River.
HabitatSandy lowlands and dunes.
HighlightsIn Arabic, “ghazal” means “bright-eyed.”
This gazelle is a true desert animal, always on the move with a small herd, preyed on in the wild by lions and jackals. It displays the nervous vigilance typical of a prey animal, signaling alarm with a snort or flick of the tail, warning the herd to flee.
It is small, measuring 28″ at the shoulder, and is a pale sandy color above with white below to blend with the sands, a very faint flank stripe and splayed hooves which increase foot surface for walking through deep and extensive stretches of sand. The 15″ long horns are ringed and only slightly curved. It has large, dark eyes and long ears. Its diet consists of leaves, grass and any other vegetation available.
Mating occurs in fall and young, often twins are born after a 5-month gestation and can walk within minutes. Mother hides them in the shrubbery, snorting at them when she is ready to nurse.
As a ruminant, a gazelle swallows its food unchewed, which allows it to consume large quantities of hard-to-digest plant material at one feeding, then to rest in a safe place to chew its cud. It can go long periods without water, getting most of its water from the vegetation consumed.