About the goitered gazelle, one can say with confidence that it is graceful, like a gazelle. The combination of long and slender legs with graceful curved horns makes this antelope even more elegant and refined. Looking at how the goitered gazelle jumps from one stone to another, one can immediately notice its lightness, dexterity and grace. Let’s find out everything about the origin of this animal, characterize its temper, habits, favorite habitats and eating habits, note the main enemies of gazelles in order to understand in more detail the life of these artiodactyls.

View origin and description

Photo: Jeyran

Photo: Jeyran

The goitered gazelle is an artiodactyl mammal belonging to the genus of gazelles and the family of bovids. This genus is directly related to the subfamily of true antelopes. The word “gazelle” came to us from the Arabic language. In general, this is a genus of rather slender and long-legged animals, which is confirmed by its appearance as a graceful gazelle. There are a lot of varieties of gazelles, among them you can see the goitered gazelle. This antelope has one feature – only male gazelles have horns, unlike most other gazelles, where individuals of both sexes act as cuckolds.

As for the goitered gazelles specifically, they can be called small and very refined-looking animals, all the external features and complexion of which are in full accordance with the genus of gazelles, although they have their own nuances and distinctive features. In general, there are 4 subspecies of gazelles, but now some scientists classify them as separate species.

So, among the gazelles they distinguish:

  • Persian;
  • Mongolian ;
  • Turkmen;
  • Arabian.

It is worth noting that outwardly these subspecies are almost identical, and differ only in the territory of their permanent residence. The grace, dexterity and swiftness of gazelles have long fascinated man, so they were often depicted on coins and postage stamps of the former USSR, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Appearance and features

Photo: Goitered gazelle

Photo: Steppe goitered gazelle

To begin with, let’s deal with the dimensions of these amazing antelopes. The length of the body of mature animals can vary from 93 to 116 cm, and their height at the withers – from 60 to 75 cm. The mass of gazelles ranges from 18 to 33 kg. As already noted, only males act as cuckolds in goitered gazelles. Their beautiful lyre-shaped horns are painted black, have a length of 28 to 30 cm and are studded with a number of transverse rings. Females are not endowed with horns, but sometimes there are specimens with small rudimentary horns from 3 to 5 cm in length.

Goitered gazelles are long-legged creatures, their limbs are graceful and thin, but their hooves are quite powerful and sharp, which contributes to the quick and dexterous movement of these gazelles on stony and clay soil. However, the legs of antelopes are completely unsuitable for moving on a snowy carpet, and goitered gazelles do not differ in great endurance, therefore they often die when they make forced long transitions.

Video: Goitered gazelle

If we talk about the color of these animals, then it is, for the most part, sandy (upper body and sides). On the neck, abdomen and inside of the legs, white staining is noticeable. In the back, you can observe a white area of ​​​​small size, called the “mirror”. The tip of the tail is black, it stands out in contrast against a white background, and is clearly visible when the gazelle rushes rapidly. Because of this distinctive external feature, it is often called the “black tail” among the people. There is no pronounced division of the hairline into undercoat and guard hairs in goitered gazelles. In winter, their fur coat is lighter than summer attire. The length of the wool of the winter plumage varies from 3 to 5 cm, and in summer it does not reach even 1.5 cm. It should be added that the hairs on the muzzle and legs are shorter than on the rest of the body of antelopes.

Interesting fact: Young goitered gazelles have a pronounced facial pattern, which is a dark brown spot at the bridge of the nose and two dark stripes drawn from the antelope’s eyes to the corners of its mouth.

Where does the gazelle live?

Photo: Goitered gazelles in the desert

Photo : Goitered gazelles in the desert

Goitered gazelles give their preference to plains and slightly hilly ridged deserts, where the soil is quite dense. This elegant antelope can be found in the area of ​​mountain trails, and in the spaces of valleys with soft relief. Due to the peculiarities in the structure of the limbs, these animals bypass too vast sandy territories, this is especially characteristic of the summer period.

Very often goitered gazelles choose deserts and semi-deserts, occupying:

  • semi-shrub saltwort semi-deserts;
  • semi-shrub saltwort semi-deserts;
  • shrub deserts.

An interesting fact: Vegetation in the territories of permanent residence of goitered gazelles can differ significantly and be completely diverse. Often, these antelopes adapt to existence in the expanses of almost lifeless rocky deserts.

Speaking of the specific territories of the goitered gazelles, it is worth noting that they currently live:

  • in Iran;
  • in western Pakistan;
  • in southern Mongolia;
  • in Afghanistan;
  • in China;
  • Kazakhstan;
  • Georgia;
  • Kyrgyzstan;
  • Tajikistan;
  • Uzbekistan;
  • Turkmenistan.

As for our country, according to the historical habitat, gazelles lived in the southern part of Dagestan in the recent past, but now, to Unfortunately, they are not found there, preferring the desert and semi-desert areas of the above states.

What does the gazelle eat?

Photo: Goitered antelope

Photo: Goitered antelope

It should not be surprising that gazelles are not very whimsical in terms of nutrition, because they live in desert and semi-desert territories that are rather scarce in terms of vegetation. You don’t have to be picky, so goitered gazelles are glad that they have in their ascetic menu, the composition of which is very limited especially in autumn and winter.

During this period, goitered gazelles have a snack:

  • camel thorn ;
  • saltwort;
  • wormwood;
  • saxaul shoots;
  • rodwort;
  • ephedra;
  • surface part of tamarisks.

In summer and spring, the menu looks richer and juicier, because the life of vegetation is renewed again. Goitered gazelles during this period can eat wild cereals, capers, ferula, barnyard grass, onions, sometimes they feast on corn, melon, legumes. Like desert dwellers, goitered gazelles are accustomed to go without drinking for a long time. This is not surprising, because finding the nearest watering place can be at a distance of 10 to 15 km, so antelopes drink water once a week or five days.

On the banks overgrown with bushes, gazelles try not to drink, because various predators can hide there. Antelopes choose open and flat terrain for watering, going on a hike for water at dusk or when dawn breaks. All this animals do for their own safety. Even bitter-tasting and salty water (for example, in the Caspian Sea) is consumed by goitered gazelles, once again emphasizing their unpretentiousness in terms of food preferences.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Jeyran from the Red Book

Photo: Jeyran from the Red Book

Like other gazelles, gazelles are very cautious and shy, they react with great sensitivity to any suspicious sounds and noises. If the antelope anticipates the appearance of danger, then it immediately takes off running, its speed of running can vary from 55 to 60 km per hour. Females with babies have a completely different rescue tactic – they, on the contrary, prefer to hide in the bushes in such terrible moments.

Although gazelles are herd animals, they begin to gather in large groups during the imminent approach of winter. During the warmer months, these gazelles like to be completely alone or in a small company, where at most there can be only five goitered gazelles. Basically, these are last year’s young and barren females.

With the approach of cold weather, gazelles begin to cluster in large herds, which can contain from several tens to several hundred animals. When herds of antelopes are looking for food, they are able to travel from 25 to 30 km in one day. With the advent of spring, females in position begin to leave the herd first, then the turn of sexually mature males comes, followed by their herds, and already quite strong young animals leave.

An interesting fact: In winter, gazelles are active during the day, and at twilight and at night they rest in beds dug out in the snow, which are usually arranged behind some hill to protect themselves from the cold wind. In summer, antelopes, on the contrary, feed in the morning and at dusk, and rest in the hot afternoon, sitting somewhere in the shade.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Goitered gazelle

Photo: Steppe goitered gazelle

As noted earlier, goitered gazelles are collective mammals living in herds, into which they stray when the winter cold sets in. And in the fall, mature males begin an active rut. They mark their possessions with excrement, which they lay in pre-dug holes called “rutting latrines”.

Interesting fact: Males become aggressive during the rut, often gathering around them entire harems of females, whom they tirelessly protect from the encroachments of other suitors. The struggle for territory and attracting female attention comes to the point that some gentlemen dig up other people’s marks and replace them with their own.

The duration of the female’s pregnancy is 6 months, the calves appear already in the March period or closer to the beginning of April. Usually, one single or a couple of babies are born. A few weeks before the offspring appear, expectant mothers try to stay apart, away from males, choosing a place suitable for childbirth, which should be located on a flat open area where there is a sparse shrub growth, or in a hollow, securely sheltered from cool winds.

Babies weigh about two kilograms, but they can immediately stand on their feet and feel quite confident. The first weeks of age, calves find refuge in the bushes, where they prefer to hide, and a caring mother visits them herself, treating them with breast milk 3-4 times a day. The development of gazelle cubs is very rapid. Already during the first month of life, they gain a mass equal to half the weight of an adult animal.

Calves become completely adult by the age of one and a half years, although some females already at the age of one year have offspring for the first time. Sexual maturity of males occurs only at 1.5 years of age. In the natural environment, goitered gazelles can live for about 7 years, and in captivity even 10 years.

Natural enemies of the goitered gazelle

Photo: Jeyran in the desert

Photo: Goitered gazelle in the desert

The life of a graceful goitered gazelle is not easy, which is quite fragile and does not have much endurance. Many different enemies are encountered on the way, both mature and very young antelopes. Among the most important and insidious ill-wishers of gazelles, perhaps, wolves can be called, most of all gazelles die in the teeth of these predators precisely in the winter, when there is a lot of snow, and exhausted and hungry antelopes cannot run away from danger.

Along with wolves, gazelles in Turkmenistan are pursued by cheetahs and caracals. Of course, inexperienced young animals are most vulnerable, the death of which closer to autumn can reach up to 50 percent, which is very alarming.

The enemies of young and newly born calves include:

  • foxes;
  • golden eagles;
  • vultures;
  • wild dogs;
  • steppe eagles;
  • imperial eagles ;
  • Large buzzards.

As you can see, danger awaits goitered gazelles not only on the ground, but also from the air. The harsh nature also does not spare these mammals, whose mortality increases greatly during snowy winters, when there is also constant sleet. Goitered gazelles can die of starvation, because under a thick snow layer it is not easy to find food, moving through snowdrifts, and especially on the crust, injures animals and can also lead to death, it is almost impossible to hide from predators during such periods. We should not forget about the people who caused enormous damage to the goitered gazelles population by actively and ruthlessly hunting them.

Population and species status

Photo: Jeyran

Photo: Jeyran

A few centuries ago, the population of goitered gazelles was very numerous in the vast semi-desert and desert regions of many states. Even the daily hunting of local residents could not significantly affect its numbers. Antelopes fed a person with delicious meat (up to 15 kg from one goitered gazelle), supplied with the strongest skin, but man’s unbridled passion for profit led to the fact that these mammals began to be exterminated at lightning speed and on a huge scale. With the help of cars, people learned to drive herds of antelopes into traps, blinding animals with bright headlights, then they carried out a mass execution of artiodactyls, the picture of which was simply terrifying.

There is evidence that by the beginning of the 2000s, the goitered gazelles population was about 140 thousand animals, but according to statistics of recent decades, the rate of its decrease has increased by another third, which cannot but worry. Jeyrans are now almost never seen in Azerbaijan and Turkey. In the vastness of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the number of their livestock has fallen dozens of times.

The main threat and the reason for such a plight of these artiodactyls is the thoughtless and selfish activities of people that affect animals not only directly (poachers), but indirectly ( reduction of places of residence due to plowing of land and the creation of pastures). Due to this alarming population situation, a number of conservation measures have been taken to revive the population of these amazing gazelles, which are currently classified as a vulnerable species.

Guarding the gazelle

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer goitered gazelles, so people finally thought that this antelope might disappear from the face of the Earth altogether. Now the gazelle is listed in the international Red Book, having the status of a “vulnerable species” of animals. In the Red Book of Kazakhstan, the goitered gazelle is listed as a rare species, the number of which is constantly declining. The goitered gazelle is also considered to be in the Russian Federation.

As already noted, the main limiting factors include human activities that negatively affect the life and habitat of animals. Poachers still continue to shoot goitered gazelles illegally, although hunting for them is strictly prohibited. People are pushing these artiodactyls out of their places of permanent deployment, plowing up all new land and expanding the pasture area for livestock.

In addition to being listed in various Red Books, protective measures to save these animals include:

  • implementation of artificial breeding of gazelles in reserves, where all conditions are created for their comfortable life;
  • a general ban on hunting and an increase in fines for poaching;
  • identification and protection of territories where goitered gazelles are most numerous, assigning them the status of protected areas.

Recently people are trying to draw as much attention as possible to the problem of the disappearance of gazelles. Thus, at the annual festival in Azerbaijan called “The Maiden’s Tower”, artists often depict these charming antelopes on large stands, giving reason to think about their declining numbers and often thoughtless, destructive, human activities.

In the end, it remains to add that, just as the gazelle is incredibly handsome and graceful, it is just as defenseless and vulnerable. It is necessary to appreciate this meek and shy animal, respectfully and reverently treat the places of its permanent residence, try to stop any illegal and inhumane actions, then the world around will become at least a little kinder and brighter, and gazelles will be able to enjoy their happy life.

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