New Observations Of Dama Gazelles In The Wild

The Takolokouzet Massif is located in the Aïr & Ténéré National Nature Reserve in Niger. It is home to some iconic species, including the Barbary sheep and the dama gazelle, one of the most endangered antelopes on the planet. It is on Takolokouzet’s plateaus that the reserve’s last dama gazelles find refuge from disturbance and growing human presence.

As part of its work to preserve the gazelle dama, SCF is using camera-traps to gather information on its distribution and seasonal movements.

In October this year, an SCF Niger team undertook a mission to Takolokouzet with two wildlife rangers and a community game guard recruited to monitor the camera-traps [RB1]  set up in the field and to sensitize the people living in the area. One hundred and fifty kilometres were travelled on foot over rough terrain to retrieve data from the cameras and to move the grid to new areas tio complete the survey. The twelve cameras yielded several thousand photos.

During this mission, the team observed seven dama gazelles and made several other indirect observations of tracks and dung piles.  Several herds of dorcas gazelle, with many calves, were also observed.

Although evidence of disturbance caused by gold panning was recorded there was luckily no sign of poaching.  Although the number of remaining dama gazelles is very small, we are optimistic for their future thanks to good cooperation with the local people.  We hope they will help protect the dama gazelles, one of the last three tiny remaining metapopulations of the species in the wild.