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Dama Gazelle: Conservation Status and Habitat Facts

Dama gazelle, or Addra Gazelle, is one of the most endangered animals in Africa. It is different from other types of gazelles because it has horns instead of antlers like other African wildlife. Dima gazelles also stand out for their short ears, which make it difficult for them to hear predators coming up behind them.

This species is very similar to a deer, but the dama gazelle is much smaller than a deer. It has large points on its back legs that it uses as a weapon against predators. The dama gazelle is on the verge of extinction—it is a critically endangered species! It lives primarily in Sudan.

A Group of Dama Gazelle

They are considered one of the most endangered animals in Africa. Dama Gazelle only has an estimated 3,000 Dima Gazelles remaining in the wild. This species is on the brink of extinction because there are many threats to endangerment.


Family of Dama Gazelles

The dama gazelle stands out due to its size, distinctive horns, and striking coat colors. It is the largest gazelle, recognized for its remarkable physique and elegant appearance. Dama Gazelles are a type of gazelle on the verge of extinction.

They are considered one of the most endangered animals in Africa and live primarily in Sudan. Dama gazelles are very different from other gazelles because they have horns instead of antlers, like other African wildlife.

Dama Gazelles also stand out for their short ears, which makes it difficult for them to hear predators coming up behind them. Dama Gazelle’s coloring has multiple colors, including brown, white, and black stripes on its back.

Dama Gazelle can be found in remote regions with grasslands, primarily the vast plains of the Sahara desert.

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Size and Build

The dama gazelle is one of the largest of its kind. These gazelles can weigh up to 75 kg (165 pounds) and stand about 120 cm (47 inches) at the shoulder. They have a robust build, equipped with long, slender legs that provide speed and grace.

The deep chest and slim neck add to their elegant appearance, making them easily distinguishable from other gazelles. Such physical attributes enable them to survive in their natural habitats, traversing grasslands and semi-deserts.

Horn Structure

Both male and female dama gazelles typically have horns. These horns are medium-length and ringed, curving in an “S” shape. Male horns are usually around 35 cm (14 inches) long, while female horns are slightly shorter.

The horns’ symmetry and shape add to their distinctive look. They are not just for show; they play a crucial role during displays of dominance and mating rituals. Their unique structure is a key identifying feature for this species.

Coat and Coloring

The dama gazelle’s coat features a striking color contrast. Most of the body is white, while the head and neck exhibit a reddish-brown hue. This coloration pattern is quite distinctive and helps with identification in the wild.

The color contrast serves as a camouflage mechanism to regulate body temperature. Their coats are not just functional; they also contribute to the beauty and elegance that make the dama gazelle a remarkable sight.


The range of the dama gazelle has been greatly restricted, and they are now only found in pockets in Niger, Mali, and Chad in sub-Saharan Africa. These gazelles previously ranged from the west coast of northern Africa to the Nile.

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The dama gazelle inhabits grasslands, savannahs, rough desert grasses, and other semi-arid regions in northern Africa. It eats acacias, shrubs, grass, and dates and can stand on its hind legs to reach food up to 2 meters off the ground.

The dama gazelle has adapted to its dry environment by obtaining sufficient water from its food when free water is unavailable. Its long legs and light body structure help this gazelle cope with the heat of the desert.

Diet and Nutrition

Dama Gazelles are herbivores, meaning they primarily eat vegetation. They mainly consume plants, grass, and leaves but may also eat flowers, seeds, herbs, and fruits. Their diet can change with the seasons since the food sources depend on the available vegetation in the area.

They can eat many types of grass, including Dontia spp, Dichanthium annulatum, Dactyloctenium aegyptium, Schismus arabicus, Cynodon dactylon, and Sorghum sp.

The Dama Gazelle has teeth designed for grazing and can chew tough plants and grasses. They may access water sources by jumping with great force, allowing the Dama Gazelle to move about the region and eat plants and vegetation other animals cannot reach.

As a result, they require less food than other gazelles. Because this species only gives birth once every two years, they require less food than other gazelles.

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Behavioral Patterns

The dama gazelle displays fascinating behavioral patterns, including social interactions, reproductive habits, and daily activities. Understanding these behaviors can provide insight into their survival strategies in the wild.

Social Structure

Dama gazelles typically form mixed groups of males, females, and young. These herds can vary in size but often include 10-15 members. During the breeding season, a dominant male may take charge of a group and defend it from rival males.

Outside the breeding season, males may also form bachelor groups or live alone. This social structuring helps them protect against predators and facilitate breeding activities.

Reproductive Behavior

Breeding in dama gazelles is largely seasonal. The mating season prompts males to compete for females, with dominant males securing the right to mate. After mating, the female undergoes a six to seven months gestation period.

She usually gives birth to a single calf. Newborns are hidden in vegetation to protect them from predators. After a few weeks, they join the herd, gradually learning social and survival skills from other members.

Daily Activity

Dama gazelles are diurnal, which means they are active during the day. They spend their mornings and late afternoons feeding on grasses, leaves, and shrubs. During the hottest parts of the day, they rest in the shade to avoid the heat.

A unique behavior observed in these gazelles is “pronking” – a springy jump they use to display strength and agility, often to ward off predators. Migration patterns can also be seen, especially in search of food and suitable habitat, emphasizing their adaptability to the challenging environments they inhabit.

Mating Habits

Closeup of a Dama Gazelle with Black Background

This species’ mating habits include groups of Dama Gazelles that congregate regularly. They can be seen galloping together in pairs or triples during mating season, and they also do this pre-mating ritual where Dama Gazelles cross paths with each other instead of running away (or fleeing) from each other.

These gazel species are social animals with strong family ties. Dama Gazelles are careful about their young, and they have been known to stay with their mothers until they are four years old. Dama Gazelles are monogamous, meaning that they mate once or for life.

They have been known to travel long distances to find Dama Gazelle mates. Dama Gazelles have also been known to talk with each other using sounds that scientists do not fully understand.

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Threats to Survival

The dama gazelle is critically endangered due to human activities, natural threats from predators, and environmental changes. Learning about these threats can help in forming strategies for their conservation.

Human Activities

Human activities pose the greatest risk to the dama gazelle. Hunting and poaching have decimated their numbers, with mechanized hunting being particularly harmful. Hunters using vehicles can easily track and kill gazelles.

Habitat destruction further threatens their survival. As human populations grow, land development for agriculture or settlements destroys the gazelle’s natural habitat. Civil unrest and conflicts in regions like Chad and Niger make conservation efforts difficult. Moreover, livestock competition causes a depletion of resources that gazelles rely on, making it harder for them to find food and water.

Predation and Natural Threats

Natural predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas threaten the dama gazelle despite their small populations. As the gazelle population declines, the risk of inbreeding increases. Inbreeding reduces genetic diversity, making the gazelle more vulnerable to disease and less adaptable to environmental changes.

Due to their tiny population size, the loss of a single gazelle can have massive repercussions. This significantly affects their gene pool, limiting the population’s ability to recover and adapt.

Environmental Changes

Dama gazelles are highly sensitive to environmental changes. Shifting climate patterns affect their habitat in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel. Droughts become more frequent and severe, reducing water availability and making survival conditions harsher.

Desertification and livestock overgrazing also degrade their habitat. As grasslands turn into deserts, the availability of food and water sources dwindles. These changes force the gazelles to migrate to less suitable areas, which increases stress and lowers their chances of survival.

Cultural Significance

The dama gazelle holds a unique place in African culture, particularly in countries like Chad, Mali, and Niger. It features prominently in various national symbols and has inspired numerous mentions in media and literature.

Symbols and Emblematic Use

In Niger, the dama gazelle has been honored as a national symbol, appearing on emblems and other official insignia. Often, this gracious creature symbolizes resilience and the natural beauty of the Sahara.

Its image is also used in traditional art and crafts. Artists, especially in regions where the gazelle once roamed freely, incorporate its likeness into paintings, carvings, and textiles. This helps keep the gazelle’s legacy alive despite its dwindling numbers.

In football, the Niger national football team proudly adopts the gazelle as a mascot, symbolizing agility and grace on the field. This association serves as a reminder of the gazelle’s importance beyond ecological contexts.

Representation in Media and Literature

The dama gazelle frequently appears in Saharan folklore, where it is often seen as a symbol of purity and elegance. Many traditional stories talk about its cleverness and gentle nature. These stories are passed down through generations, enriching local culture.

The gazelle has inspired poetry and short stories highlighting its plight in modern literature. Authors use the dama gazelle to draw attention to environmental issues, overhunting, and habitat destruction. For instance, contemporary writers may illustrate the gazelle’s struggles to survive, making it a compelling subject for conservation narratives.

Moreover, documentaries and educational programs often feature the dama gazelle. These programs aim to raise awareness and foster a deeper appreciation for this critically endangered animal locally and internationally.

Conservation Status

Up-close Photo of Dama Gazelle

Dama Gazelles are a type of gazelle on the verge of extinction. They are considered one of the most endangered animals in Africa and live primarily in Sudan.

Dama Gazelles are very different from other types of gazelles, like the Scimitar Horned Oryx or the Sahara Desert Oryx, the largest gazelle species, because Dama Gazelles have horns instead of antlers like other African wildlife.

Dama Gazelles also stand out for their short ears, which make it difficult for them to hear predators approaching behind them.

Researchers partner with government agencies and NGOs to solve the problem of the dama gazelle’s endangerment. They implement conservation and management strategies to protect the species’ natural habitats.

Dama Gazelles’ native habitat is being destroyed because of climate change, widespread civil conflict in Sudan, and human wild population growth.

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Predators and Threats

As is too often the case, the greatest threat to the dama gazelle comes from man. Poaching and habitat destruction have reduced the number of this gazelle by 80%.

The drought this region has been suffering from has made life even more difficult for the animals. The extension of the coarse desert grasses and area has brought it closer to humans as it moves to the south in search of forage. It is also preyed upon by predators such as cape-hunting dogs, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, and leopards.

The lack of genetic diversity could be another problem to the continued existence of the dama gazelle.

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Conservation efforts

Currently, captive breeding programs in the breeding season are the best chance for the dama gazelle to survive as a species. Breeding is conducted both in the United States and in European countries.

Fenced-off areas in Senegal, Morocco, and Tunisia have protected the dama gazelles. However, any wildlife reserves in this region are often poorly policed, increasing the chances of poaching.

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Dama Gazelle and its Horns

Dama Gazelles are endangered animals threatened by human activity. Droughts, climate change, excessive hunting, civil war in Sudan, and the rapid increase in people have contributed to their endangerment. However, conservation efforts are happening worldwide to help dama gazelles live on.

Organizations work with government agencies and NGOs to implement management strategies for Dama Gazelles as well as other endangered species so they can protect their natural habitats from destruction.

Do you know of or are you part of an organization that works to conserve the Dama Gazelle? If so, please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.

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Where do Dama Gazelles live?

Dama Gazelles live in Sudan. Dama Gazelles are on the verge of extinction mainly because of poaching, border wars, habitat loss due to sand mining, dune retraction, and drought.

What color is Dama Gazelle’s fur, and why does it provide Dama Gazelle with camouflage?

Dama Gazelle’s fur can be brown to black and is not sharply striped, so Dama Gazelle provides Dama Gazelle with camouflage.

How can Dama Gazelles hear predators coming up behind them when they have short ears that don’t let them hear well?

Dama Gazelles can hear predators coming up behind them because they have a heightened sense of smell. They often keep their heads down to the ground and rely heavily on their strong sense of smell to detect danger.

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