These gazelles have no confidence in man and probably their intrinsic intuition has been a guide for them but not the safest one to shield them from eminent dangers of many predators which live side by side with them in their natural habitats. Ironically, what have triggered the alarming decline of gazelles has nothing to do with ferocious predators, it rather stems from man's growing greed and blatant carelessness. The following is a brief overview of the Cuvier's Gazelle, an endangered animal in Tunisia as well as in the north of Africa.
Cuvier's Gazelle weighs up to 35kilos (77lb) and is 70 cm (28") tall at the level of the shoulder. It's scattered on a wide array of habitats ranging from hilly valleys, mountainous and rocky plateaus, grasslands, oak and pine forests to arid and desert regions. It feeds on plants and grasses. It's thought to be both a "browser" (eating the leaves of trees) and a "grazer" (eating grass and herbs).
Cuvier's Gazelle resorts to the water imbibed by plants or the dew as a source of drinking water ; yet, it needs to frequently make appeal to waterholes.
As a matter of fact, the Cuvier's Gazelle tends to spend most of the morning rambling in the hill sides and to get down to the valleys to graze at night or early in the morning.
The Cuvier's Gazelle lives in spacious areas. A male gazelle can attend one or more females with their children often in herds of 3 to 5.
Earlier this century, the Cuvier's Gazelle was still scattered in western Tunisia and over mountainous regions in Morocco including the Middle and High Atlas as well as in Algeria.
Right in 1932, this animal was reported to be on the way of extinction. In 1972, only a slew of small groups were signalled to be alive.
Data on Biology and Ecology
- Weight: Female: 15 - 20 kg (33 - 44 lb ); Male: 20 - 35 kg (44 - 77 lb ). Shoulder height: up to 68 cm (27").
- Gestation Period : 170 - 175 days.
- Birth Season : Mating happens early in winter, while births take place in the spring (April - May).
- Birth Rate: They are in the habit of giving birth to one offspring and yield two litters in one year if grass and water abound.
- Maximum Age: 14 years 10 months (captivity).
- Diet: leaves of trees, herbs, shrubs, green grasses, water from plants and dew as well as water holes.
- Behaviour: Quite often the gazelle spends the whole day in the hills, and gets down grazing at night or early in the morning.
- Habitat: They live in hills, valleys, mountains, desert, grassland oak and Aleppo pine forests.
Reasons of the Cuvier's Gazelle's Decline
The number of Cuvier's Gazelle has dramatically declined due to different reasons:
- They have been hunted for their skins, meat and trophy.
- The use of motorized hunting on a wide scale has triggered the process of their decline.
- Loss of natural habitat, deforestation and the expansion of agricultural lands at the expense of wildlife habitat have contributed to the decline of this species.
- In Tunisia, there's a growing awareness of the urgent need to preserve the country's natural richness from extinction. There have been moves to protect wildlife such as imposing tough measures and strict laws on hunting, signing international treaties, creating numerous animal reservations and parks such as Ichkeul Park in the north of Tunisia which has become the safest resort for thousand of migratory birds swarming from Europe, Asia, etc. and other species including mammals.
- The Cuvier's gazelle can reproduce quite quickly once introduced to a given area.
- The Cuvier's gazelle is the sole survivor gazelle pertaining to the area north of the Sahara Desert.
- In1932, the Cuvier's Gazelle was rarely spotted in great number.
Originally written in French by Rania, 7th Year Basic Education (Tunisia), Translated by Ms S.Kefi