Mongolian Gazelle, Procapra gutturosa
The Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), also known as the zeren, is native to Central Asia. Its range also includes some areas of China and Siberia. It prefers a habitat within the arid step lands of its range, which is one of the worlds’ only remaining great wilds. Herds gather in groups between twenty and thirty individuals in the summer, but in the winter, the herds rise to one hundred individuals, although herds of up to five thousand do occur. One herd was spotted in 2007 that numbered nearly a quarter of a million individuals. This species migrates during fall and spring, but the distance traveled during these migrations depends on the availability of food and the weather conditions.
The Mongolian gazelle is medium sized, with males growing long horns that curve backwards into a lyre shape. The fur of this antelope is short and light brownish-pink in the summer, but it grows longer and lighter in color during the winter. The fur on the rump is white and shaped like a heart, with a black line extending through the middle. During the winter, this gazelle is typically active during the day, but during the summer, it is most active before sundown and after sunrise.
The mating season of the Mongolian gazelle occurs in late fall or early winter. During this time, the throat swells, much like the goiter effect. Males will compete for females during the mating season, but violence is rarely associated with finding a mate. After a pregnancy period of five to six months, one young is usually born, although twins do occur. Mothers will leave the herd during June to July in order to give birth to the young, but will return to the herd shortly after the birthing process. The young gazelles reach sexual maturity at seventeen to eighteen months of age.
Although the population trend of the Mongolian gazelle is unknown, it is one of the most populous of species, reaching an estimated 1.5 million individuals. It is thought that nearly 100,000 are killed each year, but it is not known how this affects its population trend. This species is vulnerable to changing weather patterns and diseases, but it appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”
Image Caption: Engraving from: Carl Bertuch, ”Bilderbuch fur Kinder”, Weimar 1792-1810. Credit: Carl Bertuch/Wikipedia