Ammodorcas clarkeidibatag

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Geographic Range

Ammodorcas clarkei, the dibatag or Clarke’s gazelle, is found in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia and adjacent parts of northern and central Somalia. This species is found mostly in the arid southeastern lowlands in Ethiopia, and local concentrations occur in the coastal hinterland of central Somalia. (Yalden et al., 1984)

Habitat

Preferred habitat of dibatags consists of sandy areas with scattered thorn scrub and grasses to arid, low-lying, scrub-covered plains. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Physical Description

Body length of A. clarkei ranges from 152-168 cm, with a tail length of 25 to 35 cm. Shoulder height varies from 80-88 cm and weight ranges from 22 to 35 kg. The the upper-parts of these gazelles are a grayish-fawn, and the rump and undersides are white. Markings on the face consist of a white stripe running from above the eye to the muzzle. There is a line of chestnut across the nose. The body is thin, and the legs and neck are quite long and thin. The rufous coat blends well with the surroundings making Dibatag difficult to see in thick cover. A noted characteristic is the long, furred black tail that is 25-35 cm long. The curving horns are only found on males and are from 10 to 25 cm long. Dibatags also have small hooves and a flat-shaped skull. (Carter and Mochi, 1971)

  • Range mass
    22 to 35 kg
    48.46 to 77.09 lb
  • Range length
    152 to 168 cm
    59.84 to 66.14 in

Development

No information is available on the development of this species.

Reproduction

Information on mating system is not available for this species. In other similarly sized bovid species (e.g. Antilope cervicapra, and Litocranius walleri) males establish and defend territories, at least during the breeding season, and are polygynous. It is likely A. clarkei maintains territories by marking them with urination, defecation, and preornital gland secretions. (Walther et al., 1983)

Females only give birth to one young during the year. Births occur in October and November. The gestation period is 204 days. (Ditrich, 1972). Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 18 months.

  • Breeding season
    Births occur in October and November.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    6.8 months
  • Average gestation period
    204 days
    AnAge
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    12 to 18 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    12 to 18 months

As in all mammals, the female provides nourishment for the young through lactation. Young are precocial. Other information on parental care in this species is not available.

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of a dibatag ranges from 10 to12 years. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 to 12 years

Behavior

Dibatags are diurnal mammals of solitary or social habits, traveling either alone or in small groups of related individuals. Males mark territories with urination, defecation, and secretions from the pre-orbital glands. These territories are defended by sparring between males. Sparring is done by pushing and shoving against an opponent’s horns and neck, attempting to throw him off balance. During sparing, males tuck their noses between their forelegs to protect their fragile necks and horns. (Walther et al., 1983)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet of A. clarkei consists of leaves and shoots from bushes and trees. The long necks of dibatags allows them to reach high branches. These animals may also stand on their hind legs with fore feet on the tree to browse. Dibatags may persist with little or no open water present. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves

Predation

If a dibatag senses danger, it hides itself behind vegetation, standing still and using its long neck to look over the vegetation to assess the danger. These animals remain motionless until discovered. If being pursued, dibatags will flee with their heads arched back, and use an ambling gait instead of a gallop. Common predators of these animals include cheetahs, lions, hyenas, african hunting dogs, and humans (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Ecosystem Roles

A. clarkei plays an important role as a prey species for charismatic megafauna.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Dibatags are hunted by local peoples, and thereby provide food and hides . (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species competes with livestock for grazing. (Nowak, 1983)

Conservation Status

Dibatags have been declared endangered in Somalia since 1996. Populations in Somalia are declining due to poaching, habitat degradation caused by drought, and competition with livestock for grazing land. The populations seem to be stable in Ethiopia where they are legally protected from hunting. (Nowak, 1983)

Other Comments

In Somali their name means 'erect tail', referring to the way they hold their tail erect and waving as they walk.

Contributors

Jim Bob Derrig (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Carter, T., U. Mochi. 1971. Hoofed Mammals of the World. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Diller, H., T. Haltenorth. 1980. The Collins Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa including Madagascar. Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press.

Dittrich, L. 1972. Gestation periods and age of sexual maturity of some African antelopes. International Zoo Yearbook, 12: 184-87.

Nowak, P. 1983. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.

Walther, F., E. Mungall, G. Grau. 1983. Gazelles and their relatives: a study in territorial behavior. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Publ..

Yalden, D., M. Largen, D. Kock. 1984. Catalogue of the mammals of Ethiopia. 5. Artiodactyla. Italian J. Zool. Suppl., 19: 67-221.