Gazella leptoceros 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Gazella leptoceros
Species Authority: (F. Cuvier, 1842)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Slender-horned Gazelle
French Gazelle Leptocère, Gazelle à Cornes Fines
Spanish Gacela de Astas Delgadas
Taxonomic Notes: Groves (1988) included Gazella leptoceros with G. subgutturosa in the subgenus Trachelocele. In a recent analysis of North African antelopes, Silva et al. (2015) found that G. cuvieri and G. leptoceros appear to form a monophyletic group. Hassanin et al. (2012) found that pairwise distances between the three taxa were very low (<1.5%) and suggested that G. leptoceros and G. marica should be regarded as subspecies of G. cuvieri.

Two subspecies have been described, the nominate form from Egypt and G. l. loderi from Algeria and Tunisia. There are no obvious geographical barriers and the boundaries between the two forms have not been clearly delineated. DNA analysis is needed to confirm the validity – or otherwise – of the two forms.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-01-07
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): De Smet, K., Mallon, D., Cuzin, F. & Hoffmann, M.
Listed as Endangered because the total population of Slender-horned Gazelle is estimated at no more than a few hundred individuals, well below the threshold of 2,500 mature individuals and is continuing to decline. The species is found in only a few areas of its original range and in highly fragmented and isolated populations, all of them containing below 250 mature individuals. It is suspected that poaching may have pushed the species below the Critically Endangered threshold, but field data to support this are extremely limited.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The known distribution is patchy. There are confirmed records from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, west of the Nile; there are some reports from Niger and Chad, but these are not supported by any hard evidence (Devillers et al. 2005, Beudels and Devillers 2013) and it is unclear whether the species ever occurred on the south side of the Sahara. 

In the last 10 years, the Slender-horned Gazelle has been confirmed only in the Great Western Erg in Algeria, and the Great Eastern Erg, that stretches across the border between Algeria and Tunisia, extending into the Fezzan region of Libya. In Libya it was described a s very rare only reported from north of Zell in the west and close to the border with Egypt in the east (Hufnagl 1972). However, there are several recent examples of images posted by hunters on social media sites that show dead Slender-horned Gazelles reportedly killed in Libya. The species has disappeared from most of its former range in Egypt’s Western Desert (Saleh 2001, El Alqamy and Baha El Din 2006) and there are no confirmed records since about 2004. The latest records are from sites to the west of Siwa oasis, close to the border with Libya.
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Egypt; Libya; Tunisia
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Numbers have long been declining due to uncontrolled hunting (Mallon and Kingswood 2001, Devillers et al. 2005). The size of the current population in Egypt is unknown, but is described as very small (El Alqamy and Baha El Din 2006). The two known populations in Algeria and Tunisia are also estimated to be very small (Wacher 2006). The few recent field surveys in both countries report only small groups or just tracks. It is highly unlikely that the remaining population numbers more than a few hundred.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:300-600Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Slender-horned Gazelle favours areas of dunes (ergs), other sandy substrates and interdunal depressions. It ranges widely in search of ephemeral vegetation (Beudels and Devillers 2013).
Generation Length (years):4.7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Hunting especially by motorized hunters is the major reason for the Slender-horned Gazelle's decline. In some areas this may be associated with oil exploration and extraction, in others, with intermittent recreational hunting or with visiting hunting parties (Cuzin 2003). Informal reports suggest Slender-horned Gazelles are target of a low level general demand for gazelle meat, which is periodically accelerated in association with special occasions.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat is uncontrolled poaching, though disturbance, increased human activity and degradation of natural habitats (especially erg vegetation) through desertification also have a negative impact (Devillers et al. 2005, Beudels and Devillers 2013). The availability of cheap but robust motor cycles and quad bikes has allowed poachers to access almost all parts of the range. Poaching became even more prevalent following the events of the 'Arab Spring' in the 2010s and associated reduction in control and economic difficulties. Hundreds of images of dead gazelles have been posted by hunters on social media sites, including some Slender-horned Gazelles.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is known to occur in Djebil National Park (N.P.) and Senghar N.P. (Tunisia). In Egypt the species formerly occurred in Wadi El Raiyan Protected Area (P.A.) but is now extinct there. It may still be present in Siwa P.A. and White Desert P.A.

The total number of Slender-horned Gazelles in captivity is <100, with ca 78 in the USA and ca. 17 in Europe, all based on a small number of founders.

The species is listed on CITES Appendix I, CMS Appendix I.

Effective enforcement of bans on hunting, especially the protection of existing populations in protected areas (such as Djebil N.P. and Senghar N.P and possibly those of Siwa and White Desert in Egypt) are immediate conservation priorities (Mallon and Kingswood 2001, Devillers et al. 2005, Beudels and Devillers 2013). Aerial surveys of the Grand Erg Occidental and Grand Erg Oriental are also urgently needed to establish the current population size.

Classifications [top]

8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

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 part of 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:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ 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

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ 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

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

Beudels, R.C. and Devillers, P. 2013. Gazella leptoceros Slender-horned Gazelle. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 352-355. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Cuzin, F. 2003. Les grands mammifères du Maroc méridional (Haut Atlas, Anti Atlas et Sahara): Distribution, Ecologie et Conservation. Ph.D. Thesis, Laboratoire de Biogéographie et Ecologie des Vertèbrés, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Université Montpellier II.

Devillers, P., Beudels-Jamar, R. C., Lafontaine, R.-M. and Devillers-Terschuren, J. 2005. Gazella leptoceros. In: R. C. Beudels, P. Devillers, R. M. Lafontaine, J. Devillers-Terschuren and M. O. Beudels (eds), Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes. Status and Perspectives. Report on the conservation status of the six Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes. CMS SSA Concerted Action. 2nd edition. CMS Technical Series Publication N°11, 2005. UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany.

East, R. (Compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

El Alqamy, H. and Baha El Din, S. 2006. Contemporary status and distribution of gazelle species (Gazella dorcas and Gazella leptoceros) in Egypt. Zoology in the Middle East 39: 5-11.

Groves, C. P. 1988. A catalogue of the genus Gazella. In: A. Dixon and D. Jones (eds), Conservation and biology of desert antelopes, pp. 193-198. Christopher Helm, London, UK.

Hassanin, A., Delsuc, F., Ropiquet, A., Hammer, C., Jansen van Vuuren, B., Matthee, C., Ruiz-Garcia, M., Catzeflis, F., Areskoug, V., Nguyen, T.T., Couloux, A. 2012. Pattern and timing of diversification of Cetartiodactyla (Mammalia, Laurasiatheria), as reveled by a comprehensive analysis of mitochindrial genomes . Comptes Rendus Biologies 335: 32-50.

Hufnagl, E. 1972. Lybian Mammals. The Oleander Press, New York, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Mallon, D. P. and Kingswood, S. C. 2001. Chapter 41. Regional Action Plan for Antelope Conservation. 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, pp. 231-243. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Saleh, M.A. 2001. Chapter 7. Egypt. In: D.P. Mallon and S.C. Kingswood (eds), Global survey and regional action plans: Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, pp. 48-54. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Silva, T.L., Godinho, R., Castro, D., Abaigar, T., Brito, J.C., Alves, P.C. 2015. Genetic identification of endangered North African ungulates using noninvasive sampling. Molecular Ecology Resources 15: 652-661.

Wacher, T. 2006. Slender Horned Gazelle survey of Djebil-Bir Aouine, Tunisia: Preliminary Report. In: T. Woodfine (ed.), Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group (SSIG), Douz, Tunisia, pp. 70-82. Sahara Conservation Fund.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Gazella leptoceros. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T8972A50186909. . Downloaded on 26 September 2016.
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