World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Przewalski's gazelle

Article Id: WHEBN0008081052
Reproduction Date:

Title: Przewalski's gazelle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Procapra, List of endangered and protected species of China, WikiProject Tree of Life/Articles without images/Mammals, Qinghai Lake, Artiodactyla
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Przewalski's gazelle

Przewalski's gazelle
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Antilopinae
Genus: Procapra
Species: P. przewalskii
Binomial name
Procapra przewalskii
Büchner, 1891

Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) is a member of the Bovidae family and, in the wild, is found only in China. Once widespread, its range has declined to six populations near Qinghai Lake.[1] The gazelle was named after Nikolai Przhevalsky, a Russian explorer who collected a specimen and brought it back to St. Petersburg in 1875.[2]


Przewalski's gazelles are relatively small, slender, antelopes with large eyes and short, pointed ears. The nasal bones are relatively large, suggesting an adaptation to the thin air of the Tibetan plateau. They have a head and body length of 109 to 160 centimetres (43 to 63 in), a shoulder height of 50 to 70 centimetres (20 to 28 in), and weigh between 17 and 32 kilograms (37 and 71 lb). The males are generally larger and heavier than the females. The tail is short, measuring only 7 to 10 centimetres (2.8 to 3.9 in), and is often entirely hidden by fur.

The animal is yellowish brown with a white underside and a white heart-shaped patch on its rump, partially bisected by a light brown vertical line. Males are darker in colour than females, and the coat of both sexes is more noticeably greyish in winter. The fur lacks an undercoat, consisting only of dense guard hairs. Male Przewalski's gazelles have ridged horns, which rise between the eyes and curve inwards at the tips; in younger males, the tips may actually touch, but they diverge as the animal ages. In the adult, the horns reach 18 to 26 centimetres (7.1 to 10.2 in) in length. The females are hornless.

Przewalski's gazelle is similar in appearance to both the Tibetan gazelle and the Mongolian gazelle, to both of which it is closely related, and occurs in similar geographic areas. It is intermediate in size between the other two species, and can most easily be distinguished from them by the shape of its horns.[3]

Distribution and habitat

Until the early 20th century, Przewalski's gazelle was widespread across the high plateaus of northwestern China and Inner Mongolia. However, it is now found only in a single small area around Qinghai Lake, having been extirpated across the great majority of its former range. It inhabits flat open valleys and steppeland between mountains, and the sand dunes and semi-desert zones around lakes.[3]

Two sub-species have been described, although one is now believed to be extinct:

  • P. przewalskii przewalskii - Qinghai
  • P. przewalskii diversicornis † - Gansu and the Ordos region

Behaviour and ecology

The preferred diet of Pzewalski's gazelles consists of sedges, and grasses, supplemented by herbs and shrubs such as Astragalus.[3] They are often found foraging together with Tibetan gazelles, but do not compete for resources, because the latter animal prefers legumes. Such associations with a related species allow for larger herds, which may help protect both species from predators.[4]

The gazelle usually travels in small groups, with rarely more than a dozen individuals, although much larger herds were reported in the 19th century, when the overall population was higher. Males are often solitary, or travel in small groups of two or three individuals for much of the year, but gather together in small herds with the females during the winter rut.[3]

Przewalski's gazelles are generally quiet, but have been reported to make short bleating sounds.


Przewalski's gazelles rut from late December to early January. Males scent mark small territories and clash with rivals, fighting with their horns. Females have also been observed fighting for access to males. Courtship consists of the male moving towards the female while standing on his hind legs, and is followed by a brief copulation.[3]

Gestation lasts around six months, so that the young are born around May or June. The mother gives birth to a single offspring, usually in thickets or areas of tall grass where they can be concealed from potential predators. The newborn young are able to follow their mother within a few minutes of birth, although they may remain concealed for a few days before rejoining the herd. Females become fertile during their second year, at around 18 months of age. The lifespan of Przewalski's gazelles is unknown, although, based on that of related species, it is probably around eight years.[3]


Przewalski's gazelle is perhaps one of the most endangered species of large mammal on Earth. There are many threats against the species, including competition with domestic livestock, and fencing of the natural habitat. These problems have become exacerbated as the area is increasingly developed as agricultural land.[3]

While now protected by Chinese law, and illegal hunting no longer is considered an important factor, a large percentage of the habitat of this species has already been lost due to human activities.[1] Consequently, it is considered to be an endangered species by the IUCN. Formerly, it was believed that as few as 250 remained, and it was considered critically endangered. However, this is now known to be an underestimate, with new sub-populations having been discovered in 2003 and 2006, and there are now believed to be 350-400 (and possibly even more) mature individuals left.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Procapra przewalskii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 10 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is Endangered.
  2. ^ Three new groups of critically endangered endemic gazelle found. Xinhua. Accessed 2008-12-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Leslie, D. M. Jr. et al (2010). "Procapra przewalskii (Artiodactyla: Bovidae)". Mammalian Species 42 (1): 124–137.  
  4. ^ Zhongqiu Li, et al (2010). "Nonrandom mixing between groups of Przewalski's gazelle and Tibetan gazelle". Journal of Mammalogy 91 (3): 674–680.  
  • Przewalskis Gazelle. Accessed 2008-12-10.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.