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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 17.9 years (captivity) Observations: One captive specimen lived 17.9 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Biology

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Feeding on herbs and shrubs in the summer, and green grasses in the winter, Cuvier's gazelle will browse during the night and early morning in the valleys, moving into the hills during the day (2). It regularly visits waterholes to drink (2), and will patrol its territory, marking the boundaries with urine, dung and secretions from glands beneath their eyes (6). Each territory is home to one male and one or more females with their young (2). Males may clash, performing threat displays with the head raised and horns lying along the back, before lowering the head, interlocking the horns and pushing and twisting to gain dominance (6). Mating occurs in early winter and females give birth in the spring, around 170 days later, in time for the first flush of vegetation following the rains. Most pregnancies result in a single calf, but twins are not uncommon. Mature females can have two litters in a year if conditions are good, but this is fairly unusual (2). Newborns stay hidden amongst grasses for the first few weeks of life to reduce the risk of predation. Cuvier's gazelle is a nervous and hasty antelope species that signals alarm with a flick of the tail, and will make bouncing leaps with the head held high (stotting) to announce that they have seen a predator (6).
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Conservation

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Whilst Cuvier's gazelle occurs mainly in protected areas in Tunisia, this is not the case in Morocco and Algeria (2) (7). With a large stock of captive animals, re-introduction programmes are underway in some of its former range (Tunisia) (5) (7). Suitable habitat is available, but safe corridors between protected areas, as well as access to waterholes, are needed to enable Cuvier's gazelle to re-establish itself successfully in these regions. The Centre for Saharan Fauna in Almeria, Spain has the largest captive population of Cuvier's gazelle, but there are others, including North America (5).
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Description

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Cuvier's gazelle has two-tone colouration; a dark brown back, head and legs contrast with a white belly and rump patch. The tail is nearly black and the top of the nose has a conspicuous black spot. The face has black stripes running from the enormous ears to the nose. It has vertical, spiralled horns that are present in both sexes, and may reach 35 centimetres in length (5).
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Habitat

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Cuvier's gazelle is found in a wide range of habitats, including open oak forests, pine forests, open country, grasslands, vineyards and stony desert plateaus. It occurs only at high altitude in the Atlas Mountains (2) (5).
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Range

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At the start of the 20th Century, Cuvier's gazelle was still quite numerous on the Moroccan mountains, as well as in Algeria and western Tunisia. However, by 1932 the population had dropped significantly, and by 1972 only small herds remained in the Atlas Mountains. At present it is found in tiny populations in the higher regions of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia (2) (5).
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Status

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Cuvier's gazelle is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). It is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (4).
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Threats

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The decline of Cuvier's gazelle in the first half of the 20th Century was caused by hunting for skins, meat and sport. Currently, the decline continues due to the conversion of habitat to agricultural land and grazing grounds for livestock (2).
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Cuvier's gazelle

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Cuvier's gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) is a species of gazelle native to Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, and Tunisia.[1] It is also known as the edmi.[2] It is one of the darkest gazelle species, possibly an adaptation to its partial woodland habitat. It is sometimes placed into the genus Trachelocele together with the goitered gazelles and the rhim gazelles.

Characteristics

Cuvier's gazelle is one of the darkest and smallest of the gazelle species, standing 60–69 cm (1.97–2.26 ft) tall, with an average weight of 35 kg (77 lb). It is characterized by a distinctive wide, dark band that runs along the sides of the animal, which separates the brown dorsal parts from the white ventral parts. They possess long, slender ears. While both sexes have horns between 10 and 15 cm (3.9 and 5.9 in) long, the male's horns are more ribbed and have greater mass.[2]

The purpose of the dark bands that run parallel along the side of the animal is to aid in countershading, having ventral body pelage that is more lightly colored that the dorsal surface to counteract the effect of the body's self-shadowing.

Status

In the past, the reason for decline of the gazelle was overhunting for skins, meat, and trophies. In the 1930s, it was already considered one of the rarest gazelles, but it was not listed as endangered until the 1960s. Though it is now unlawful to hunt the animal, they still suffer from habitat stress due to local farmers destroying habitat for pastureland and competition from domestic sheep and goats.

Once thought to be extinct in the wild, the gazelle's population is now thought to be less than 2000, occupying small pockets of the Atlas Mountains. Many of the animals can be found on protected land in Tunisia, but this is not the case in Morocco and Algeria, where many of the animals are still being outcompeted for food from livestock. One of the most important refuges is Djebel Chambi National Park, which holds the largest population in Tunisia. In Algeria the 200,000 ha Saharan Atlas National Park is a refuge for about a hundred Cuvier's gazelles. The Belezma National Park has about 20, but this figure is uncertain and a reintroduction has been planned.[3]

Habitat

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Range map

Cuvier's gazelle inhabits the Atlas Mountains in Northwestern Africa.[4] It is found in many different types of landscapes. The preference is for sandy or stony hills and plateaus. They also occupy areas of regenerating forests and lush pine forests. During the early morning and late evening they come out of the mountains to graze in the low grasslands. Then in the afternoon, they will travel back up the mountain into the forests and find a cool place to spend the day.

Behavior

Cuvier's gazelle tend to live in social groups of three or four during mating season, but usually not more than eight. Groups tend to contain one male and up to three females each with up to two offspring. During the mating season, the dominant males will force the younger males out of the social group; they will form bachelor groups. Then, the females will leave the group to give birth. After giving birth, females will join bachelor groups and live the rest of mating season with them.

Their main defense is their alertness. When sensing something suspicious, they will set off an alert signal by flicking their tails and performing a strong gait, of jumping into the air and having all four hooves land on the ground at the same time. Along with their alertness, they are also one of the fastest gazelles, reaching and sustaining top speeds over 50 mph.

Reproduction

With the gestation period lasting around 160 days, the gazelles tend to breed in the winter and give birth in the early spring. Before giving birth, the mother will separate herself from the herd to give birth, and then hide the newborn in the thick underbrush outside the herd, returning occasionally to nurse it. This occurs for the first month until the newborn begins to eat vegetation, but still relying on nourishment from its mother.

Cuvier's gazelle is one of the few gazelle species to frequently give birth to twins (40.5%), with singlets weighing an average of 2.99 kg (6.59 lb) and twins weighing an average of 2.85 kg (6.28 lb).[4] Ten days after giving birth, the females may breed again, giving birth to two sets of offspring per year. Newborn females can become fertile as early as 27 weeks and can give birth as soon as 70 weeks of age.

As herbivorous ruminants, the diet of Cuvier's gazelle consists entirely of leaves, grasses, and other vegetation. They will consume large amounts of greenery and find a cool place during the day to finish chewing their cuds, remnant wads of food that return from the stomach (eructation) to be chewed a second time for further digestion.

References

  1. ^ a b IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2016). "Gazella cuvieri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T8967A50186003. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Ultimate ungulate.com Archived 2011-01-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ David P. Mallon, Steven Charles Kingswood eds. Antelopes: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. p. 27
  4. ^ a b STLZoo.org Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine

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Cuvier's gazelle: Brief Summary

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Cuvier's gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) is a species of gazelle native to Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, and Tunisia. It is also known as the edmi. It is one of the darkest gazelle species, possibly an adaptation to its partial woodland habitat. It is sometimes placed into the genus Trachelocele together with the goitered gazelles and the rhim gazelles.

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