Cuvier’s Gazelle, Gazella cuvieri
Cuvier’s gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) is also known as the edmi and is native to Africa. Its range includes Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, through the Atlas Mountains in northwestern Africa. It prefers a habitat within stony or sandy hills and plateaus, but it will reside pine forests or recovering forests. Some experts do not classify it within the typical gazelle genus, but in the Trachelocele genus.
Cuvier’s gazelle is small in stature, reaching an average height of 4.2 feet and a weight of up to 77 pounds. It is one of the darkest gazelles in color, bearing a darker strip of fur that separates the white underbelly and the brown back. It is thought that these darker colors may serve as a means of camouflage within the gazelle’s range, or that it may simply be its shaded habitats that have caused the dark fur colors. Both males and females have horns, reaching a length between 3.9 to 5.9 inches, but the male’s horns are heavier and bear more contour.
Typically, groups of Cuvier’s gazelle number 3-4 individuals, but during mating season, that number can rise to eight. One male leads the group of up to three females and their young. Pregnancy can last up to 160 days, during which time the pregnant females will leave the group in order to give birth to one or two young. Twins occur often in this species of gazelle, each weighing an average of 6.28 pounds. Females may breed only ten days after giving birth, producing two sets of offspring in one year.
The mother Cuvier’s gazelle will hide her young in thick underbrush and return periodically to nurse them. This process lasts until approximately one month of age, after which the young are able to eat solid food, but still depends on the mother for a main source of nutrition. Young females are able to mate as early as 27 weeks, and can give birth at 70 weeks. Weaned males are typically ousted from the group and will join bachelor groups.
Cuvier’s gazelles are diurnal, preferring to leave the shelter of trees early in the morning to graze on open grasslands and return when the day becomes too hot. Its main diet consists of vegetation like grass and leaves, and after returning to a shady area, it will chew cud, or regurgitated food. It is a very attentive species, and at the first sign of danger, will lift its tail and leap into the air, landing heavily on all fours. After this display of strength, this gazelle will run off, reaching and sustaining a speed of up to 50 miles per hour.
Cuvier’s gazelle is threatened from overhunting. Even though this gazelle has been considered a rare species since 1930, it has still been hunted for its meat, skins, and horns. It was not until the 1960s that Cuvier’s gazelle was placed on the endangered species list. Unfortunately, it is still threatened by habitat loss by human action, although it is illegal to hunt the gazelle.
It was thought that Cuvier’s gazelle was extinct in the wild, but the current estimated population numbers 2000 individuals scattered throughout the Atlas Mountains. It resides in many protected areas, including Djebel Chambi National Park, where its largest population is located. Cuvier’s gazelle has been given a conservation status of “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
Image Caption: A Cuvier’s Gazelle at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California, USA. Credit: Cburnett/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)