The dama gazelle inhabits grasslands, savannah, desert, and other semi-arid regions in the north of 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 not available. The long legs and light body structure aid this gazelle in dealing with the heat of the desert.
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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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As is too often the case, the greatest threat to the dama gazelle comes from man. Poaching and habitat destruction has reduced the number of this gazelle by 80%.
The drought this region has been suffering from has made life even more difficult for the animal, and the extension of the desert has brought it into closer contact with humans as it moves to the south in search of forage. It is also preyed upon by such predators 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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At this point, it appears that captive breeding programs 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 given the dama gazelles some protection, but any wildlife reserves in this region are often poorly policed, increasing the chances of poaching.
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Do you know of or are you a part of an organization that works to conserve the Dama Gazelle? Then please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.