A medium-sized gazelle (20-35 kg) with reddish upperparts separated from white or cream-colored underparts by a distinct black side-stripe between front and rear legs. The gazelle takes its name from its reddish forehead that contrasts with paler eye markings. White hindquarters with contrasting dark tail. General appearance is of a robust, straight-legged and alert gazelle. Horns present in both sexes, reaching 15-25 cm in females and 22-35 cm in males. Horns of the female generally poorly developed while those of the adult male are heavy, slightly curved and with strong annulation. Horns are less lyrate than those of the dorcas gazelle and stouter and more heavily ringed than the slender-horned. In the wild, the only gazelle species likely to be confused with the red-fronted is the dorcas, which is slighter of build and paler tan in color. Some authors consider the red-fronted gazelle to be a sub-species of a larger group containing the Thompson (East Africa) and Mongalla (Horn of Africa) gazelles.
Family groups consist of two to six females, sometimes up to 15 individuals are seen together. Breeding males defend territories from competitors keeping females and young separate. Males mark their boundaries with dung piles and secretions from their pre-orbital glands. During migration and non-breeding seasons the sexes associate in mixed herds.
Breeding occurs throughout the year. When females are about to give birth they will usually leave the safety of the herd. For the first few days, females will hide their young and come back to nurse them leaving them hidden from predators, that include African wild dog, cheetah, lion, leopard and pythons.
Gestation is 184 to 189 days, with weaning taking place at about three months of age. One calf is normally produced. Sexual maturity is about 18 months in males and nine months in females. Longevity is around 11-12 years.
Although most of their moisture requirements comes from the vegetation they eat, red-fronted gazelles are more water dependent than most other gazelle species living in similar areas. Diet consist of dry grasses, leaves and even sometimes bark. They will undertake seasonal migrations within their home range north into the sub-desert in the wet season, and return to the south during the dry season. They prefer open habitats and may be found in close proximity to human settlements and their cultivated areas.
Open thorn brush savanna and vegetation covered fixed dune systems in a narrow Sahelian band across Africa.
This species formerly occurred throughout dry grasslands and Sahelian bush from southern Mauritania and northern Senegal to the western bank of the Nile.
Red-fronted gazelle populations have been reduced to scattered remnants over most of the species’ range by illegal hunting, competition with domestic livestock and habitat degradation. Some populations in protected areas appear to have increased but the majority of the overall population resides outside of protected areas. If present trends continue, the red-fronted gazelle’s range and numbers will probably decline further until its status becomes Endangered or Critically Endangered, i.e. at present less than 10% of its total numbers occur in populations which are known to be stable or increasing.
IUCN Red List category (2008): Vulnerable (A2cd).
This profile was kindly written by Randy Rieches of the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
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