Procapra przewalskii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Procapra przewalskii
Species Authority: (Büchner, 1891)
Common Name(s):
English Przewalski's Gazelle
French Gazelle de Przewalski
Spanish Gacela de Przewalski
Taxonomic Notes: Procapra przewalskii has been considered a subspecies of Procapra picticaudata but species status is unanimously agreed. Genetic analysis shows the taxon is closer to the Mongolian Gazelle P. gutturosa than to P. picticaudata.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-12
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Cooke, R.
The most recent estimate of population size for Przewalski's Gazelle is 1,544-1,635 individuals. This result indicates an overall growth in the population since 2003. However recent studies have found that the species occupies a total area of only ca 250 km², the population is severely fragmented due to geographic and anthropogenic barriers, and there is a continuing decline in area of occupancy and area and quality of habitat due to increasing human pressures; therefore the species meets the thresholds and conditions for Endangered under criterion B2ab(ii,iii). The conservation situation remains serious for this species and regular monitoring of numbers and population trends is essential, in addition to the improvement in connectivity between sites.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Formerly Przewalski's Gazelle was widespread across the high plateaus of northwestern China from the area around Qinghai Lake through Gansu (Hexi Corridor) to Ningxia, possibly Shanxi and Inner Mongolia (Ordos and Alashan Plateaux) (Jiang et al. 1995, Jiang et al. 2000, Harris 2008).

Now the species is confined to 13 sites, within five isolated areas around Qinghai Lake occupying a total area of only ca. 250 km² (Li et al. 2012, Li et al. 2013). These are Bird Island on the western side of the lake; Haergai-Ganzihe and Tale Xuanguo on the north-eastern side; Shadao, Hudong-Ketu and Yuanzhe on the south-eastern side; Wayu 50km to the south-west; and the area west of Tianjun, about 120 km north-west of the lake (Zhang et al. 2013).
Countries occurrence:
China (Gansu - Regionally Extinct, Nei Mongol - Regionally Extinct, Ningxia - Regionally Extinct, Qinghai, Shanxi - Regionally Extinct)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:250Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:15740
Number of Locations:13
Lower elevation limit (metres):3100
Upper elevation limit (metres):4800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species underwent a significant decline from the 1950s onwards and recent demographic analysis suggests that the population had a genetic bottleneck, probably within a few dozen generations, and that the ancestral effective population size has been reduced to <1% of its original size (Yang and Jiang 2011).

A thorough survey in September 2003 estimated a population of 600 (Ye et al. 2006), which was later revised upwards to 700-800, an increase from the 200-350 estimated in the 1980s and 1990s (Cai et al. 1990, Jiang et al. 2000). The most recent estimate of population size is 1,320-1,635 individuals, based on distance sampling and total counts (Li et al. 2012, Zhang et al. 2013). About 20% of the gazelles located were in newly discovered areas for the species (Li et al. 2012). The results indicate an overall growth in the population of Przewalski’s Gazelle since 2003, although some subpopulations have declined or been extirpated (Li et al. 2012), and some of the increase is due to the discovery of new populations.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Przewalski’s Gazelle inhabit plateaux, open valleys, moraines and stabilised dunes containing steppe vegetation, meadows and the desert-shrub ecotone (Leslie et al. 2010; Li et al. 2013). The habitat of the remaining population around Qinghai Lake lies at elevations of 3,194–5,174 m (Jiang and Wang 2001). This information may misrepresent the species preferences however, as it is derived from their current distribution in the possibly sub-optimum habitats that it has been relegated to in its former range, and does not take onto account the former distribution on Gansu and other areas.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.9

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Illegal hunting of Przewalski's Gazelle has been reduced through education and enforcement, but it reportedly still occurs (Leslie et al. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Research and conservation efforts for Przewalski’s Gazelle since the 1990s (Wei and Jiang 1998, Jiang et al. 2003, Jiang 2004) have resulted in increased estimates of population size. In spite of these efforts Przewalski’s Gazelle is still threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, barriers to movement, intensified competition with domestic livestock and increasing predation (Li et al. 2012). These threats are amplified by human expansion and excessive livestock grazing (there are ca2.9 million livestock around Qinghai Lake; Qi 2009), which have caused the deterioration of nearly all grasslands in the region (Liu et al. 2004, Sun et al. 2007).

Populations are fragmented and isolated, with limited movement between them owing to geographic (mountains, lakes, deserts) and anthropogenic (railways, roads, human settlement, pastureland) barriers (Li et al. 2013).

Hunting has not been a key threat following the extensive confiscation of guns by the government in the 1990s (Harris 2008). However predation has become one of the most serious threats to the survival of Przewalski’s Gazelle because of the growth of the wolf (Canis lupus) population around Qinghai Lake (Jiang et al. 2000, Jiang and Wang 2001). Predation on the physically drained adult males in the rutting season, lambing females and calves significantly affects growth of the gazelle population (Jiang 2004, 2008).

Gazelles on the eastern shore of Qinghai Lake (where the majority of the population exists) have been fenced out of their main feeding grounds since 1994 (Jiang et al. 2000) and most of their habitat has already been lost to the increasing human population, farming activities, and desertification.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protected by law as a Category I species in China since 1988. In 2001 it was designated as one of 15 taxa most urgently in need of protection in China. There are several new Forest Police posts within the remaining area of distribution and illegal hunting is no longer an important factor. The species is now regarded as a conservation priority by national and provincial governments. The population growth of Przewalski’s Gazelle since the 1980s can be mainly attributed to the establishment of protected areas and a nationwide prohibition on hunting (Li et al. 2012). Four sites (Bird Island, Shadao, Ganzihe and Haergai), with ca 59% of the total population of Przewalski’s Gazelle, are protected within Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve and, except for that of Bird Island, have increased within the last two decades (Jiang et al. 1995, Ye et al. 2006). Further growth of these gazelle populations is constrained by limited habitat availability and human–gazelle conflict (Li et al. 2012).

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
8. Desert -> 8.2. Desert - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.5. Inbreeding

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Cai, G., Liu, Y. and O'Gara, B. 1990. Observations of large mammals in the Qaidam Basin and its peripheral mountainous areas in the People’s Republic of China. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68: 2021-2024.

Harris,R. 2008. Wildlife Conservation in China: Preserving the Habitat of China’s Wild West. M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Jiang, Z. 2004. Przewalski’s Gazelle. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China [in Chinese].

Jiang, Z. 2008. Western eyes on China’s wildlife. Wildlife Professional 2: 63-64.

Jiang, Z. and Wang, S. 2001. China. In: D. P. Mallon and S. C. Kingswood (eds), Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Jiang, Z., Feng, Z., Wang, Z., Chen, L., Cai, P and Li, Y. 1995. Historical distribution and current status of the Przewalski's gazelle. Acta Theriologica Sinica 15: 241-245 [in Chinese].

Jiang, Z., Lei, R., Han, X. and Li, C. 2003. A review on the researches of Przewalski's gazelle. Chinese Journal of Zoology 38: 129-132 [in Chinese].

Jiang, Z., Li, D. and Wang, Z. 2000. Population declines of Przewalski's gazelle around Qinghai Lake. Oryx 34: 129-135.

Leslie, D.M., Groves, C.P. and Abramov, A.V. 2010. Procapra przewalskii (Artiodactyla: Bovidae). Mammalian Species 42(860): 124-137.

Li, C., Jiang, Z., Fang, H. and Li, C. 2013. A Spatially Explicit Model of Functional Connectivity for the Endangered Przewalski’s Gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) in a Patchy Landscape. PloS one 8(11): e80065.

Li, C., Jiang, Z., Ping, X., Cai, J., You, Z., Li, C. and Wu, Y. 2012. Current status and conservation of the Endangered Przewalski's gazelle Procapra przewalskii, endemic to the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Oryx 46: 145-153.

Liu, Y., Zha, Y., Gao, J. and Ni, S. 2004. Assessment of grassland degradation near Lake Qinghai. China: West, using Landsat TM and in situ reflectance spectra data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 25: 4177-4189.

Mallon, D.P. and Kingswood, S.C. 2001. Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Qi, Y. 2009. Carrying capacity of grassland and sustainable development of animal husbandry in Qinghai Lake Area. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology 10: 175-178.

Sun, F., Liu, C. and Li, J. 2007. Inspection on population condition of Qinghai Lake district and policy suggestion. Northwest Population Journal 28: 45-50 [in Chinese].

Wei, W. and Jiang, Z. 1998. Preliminary study on population sizes and affecting factors of Przewalski’s gazelles (Procapra przewalskii). Acta Theriologica Sinica 18: 232-234 [in Chinese].

Yang, J. and Jiang, Z. 2011. Genetic diversity, population genetic structure and demographic history of Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii): implications for conservation. Conservation Genetics 12: 1457-1468.

Ye, R., Cai, P., Peng, M., Lu, X. and Ma, S. 2006. The investigation about distribution and population size of Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii). Acta Theriologica Sinica 26: 373-379 [in Chinese].

Zhang, L., Liu, J., Wang, D., Schaller, G. B., Wu, Y., Harris, R. B., Zhang, K. and Lü, Z. 2013. Distribution and population status of Przewalski’s gazelle, Procapra przewalskii (Cetartiodactyla, Bovidae). Mammalia 77: 31-40.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Procapra przewalskii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T18230A50192807. . Downloaded on 09 December 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided