The Grant’s gazelle is an easily recognize antelope of the Nanger genus, which also includes two other gazelle species. Probably, the most remarkable feature of this animal is the "pants", due to which Grant’s gazelle differs from all other antelopes. Antelopes in general exhibit white coloration on their tails and the sides, which looks like "pants". However, the pants of Grant’s gazelle are more conspicuous and noticeable. The Grant’s gazelles can tolerate very high body temperatures, which would be fatal for many other mammals.
The natural range of this species covers south-eastern parts of Sudan, southern Ethiopia, south-western regions of Somalia, northern Tanzania as well as north-eastern Uganda and Kenya. Within this territory, Grant's gazelles primarily occur in semi-deserts, open savannas and treeless plains. They usually avoid areas, covered with tall grass. Additionally, these antelopes may sometimes be observed travelling among dense growth of acacia in areas with enough paths and open swaths.
Habits and lifestyle
Grant’s gazelles are social and diurnal creatures. During a certain season, these mammals migrate within their range. However, in areas with enough amount of suitable food throughout the year, Grant’s gazelles are usually sedentary. Migration occurs in herds, some of which maintain their own territories. Many of these herds consist of dominant males as well as bachelor males and females. Grant’s gazelles are territorial animals. When migrating, they exhibit a social hierarchy. Males express dominance and territorial behavior by side-by-side strutting, during which they raise their necks and tilt their horns. When noticing a predator, they usually warn community members though alert posture, alarm snorts and stamping.
Diet and nutrition
Grant’s gazelles are polygynous, which means that one male gets an exclusive right to mating with multiple females. Breeding may occur at any time of the year, although it largely depends on climatic conditions. Females generally give birth to a single calf in January-February after 27 weeks of gestation. They produce offspring in a secluded place, far from the herd. Females and their young often form temporary social units, where calves are reared. During the first few days of their lives, newborn babies are immobile, so the mothers are constantly with them, nursing the calves 4 times per day. As soon as the baby is able to walk, it leaves with its mother to join her herd. During this period, young gazelles form peer groups, where they socialize. Weaning occurs at 6 months old, although calves still associate with their mothers until they reach adolescence. Males of this species are ready to mate at 3 years old, while females are reproductively mature at 1.5 years old.
Year-round, births peak in January-February
Although classified as Least Concern and having a considerably large overall population, Grant’s gazelles do face some serious threats. These antelopes heavily suffer from poaching. On the other hand, they face loss, fragmentation and destruction of their natural habitat due to development of human settlements, ranching and fencing of land. Grant’s gazelles are presently exposed to hunting. They are 'easy prey' and attract hunters primarily for their hides and meat, which are in great demand. Additionally, this species is already extinct in certain parts of its original range.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of Grant’s gazelles is around 140,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC), but its numbers are decreasing.
Firstly, Grant’s gazelles in eastern Africa have a direct impact on local populations of pouched mice, with which they compete for food. Hence, where the population of Grant’s gazelles is small, pouched mice are in abundance. Secondly, these mammals affect the ecosystem of their habitat due to their herbivorous diet. They may also affect predator populations (cheetahs, wild dogs, jackals), as items of prey.
Fun facts for kids
- Grant’s gazelles serve as one of the 4 main totems for a tribe in Uganda. Additionally, these antelopes are commonly revered for their elegance and grace.
- Grant’s gazelles are known to use public toilets that are special sites, located far from their grazing areas. This allows them to reduce the level of parasites.
- Grant's gazelles are able to control their body temperature. During cold days, this ability helps them conserve heat. When it's hot, these animals increase their body temperature. As a result, they sweat less and lose less amount of moisture.
- Grant’s gazelles exhibit an unusual migration pattern. While animals such as Thomson’s gazelles, wildebeest and zebras leave dry areas to find water, Grant’s gazelles come to these regions, where they have fewer competitors and are able to survive without water.
- Grant’s gazelles don't tend to maintain long-lasting bonds, except for mothers and their young from the last litter.
- Although generally diurnal, Grant’s gazelles may sometimes be active during the night, when they feed upon leaves, which contain relatively more moisture than during the daytime hours.