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Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Antilopinae
            Genus: Nanger

Nanger soemmerringii

      Soemmerring's gazelle


Nanger soemmerringii [Cretzschmar, 1828].  
Citation: In Rüppell, Atlas Reise Nordl. Afr., Zool., Säugeth., p. 49, pl. 19.
Type locality: E Ethiopia.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 125-150 cm / 4.1-5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 85-92 cm / 2.3-3 ft.
Tail Length: 18-28 cm / 7.2-11.2 in.
Weight: 35-45 kg / 77-99 lb.

The upper body is a uniform tawny-red, with the head and neck lighter.  The underside of the body, inside of legs, and tail are bright white, but one of the main recognizable features is the white rump patch which normally extends onto the sides.  The different back and belly colours meet along the flank with a sharp, crisp line.  The head has dark markings of the traditional gazelle pattern, including a wide dark stripe down the nose and dark lines running from the eyes to the nose, separated by white stripes.  The tail is short and tapered and terminates with a black tuft.  Both sexes carry the lyre-shaped horns, which turn inwards at the tips.  Those in females are straighter, thinner, and smoother than those in males, and they may grow up to 40 cm / 1.3 feet long.  The horns in males are considerably larger and heavier, strongly ridged and growing up to 58 cm / 1.9 feet in length.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: About 198 days.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: 6 months at the latest.
Sexual Maturity: Around 1.5 years.
Life span: Up to 14 years.

After birth, baby gazelles lie hidden in the grass away from their mothers.

Ecology and Behavior

Soemmerring's gazelles migrate annually in the Sudan, relocating to areas with more food and water.  Males are territorial, though this may be on a temporary basis.  Defended ranges are staked out via dung middens, while the small-slitted preorbital glands do not seem to play a role in marking.   When confronting rival males, Soemmerring's gazelles flick their heads, and when fights arise they yank their hooked horns sideways in an attempt to make the opponent lose his balance.  When herding females, males make a nasal croak.  During the courting of a receptive female, the male drives her at a walking pace with his head raised.  Instead of the typical gazelle foreleg kick, the male does a stiff-legged "trot in place".  Copulation occurs while walking, with both partners keeping their heads up and the male trailing after the female on two legs.

Family group: Mixed herds between 5 and 20 individuals, rarely up to 150.
Diet: Primarily grasses.
Main Predators: Cheetah, Cape hunting dog, lion, leopard, hyena, python.


Steppes with brush and acacia in far eastern Africa.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

Soemmerring's gazelle is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (1996).


Ghazal (Arabic) a wild goat; -ellus (Latin) diminutive suffix.  Samuel Thomas Soemmerring (1755-1830) was a German/Polish scientist known for his anatomical and electrical work.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Gazella soemmerringii.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Kingdon, J.  1997.  The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals.  Academic Press, London and New York: NaturalWorld.

Walther, F. R. 1990.  Gazelles and related species.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5, pp. 462-484.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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