Gazella spekei 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Gazella spekei Blyth, 1863
Common Name(s):
English Speke's Gazelle
French Gazelle de Speke
Taxonomic Notes: Gazella speckei is a monotypic species, with no geographical variation reported.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-01-07
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Amir, O., Kaariye, X., Wilhelmi, F. & Heckel, J.
The Ethiopian population is extinct or close to extinction. Numbers in Somalia have declined steeply and are continuing to decline due to uncontrolled hunting, drought and habitat degradation through overgrazing. The rate of decline is suspected to have exceeded 50% over a period of three generations (14 years), due to a decline in range and/or habitat quality and actual or potential levels of exploitation especially in the many areas of conflict.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Speke's Gazelle (Gazella spekei) is endemic to the Horn of Africa and was formerly widespread in the arid grasslands of central, north-east and northern Somalia and the central coastal region. It still occurred widely within its historical range in the 1980s, although its numbers had been reduced greatly by hunting, drought and overgrazing of its habitat by domestic livestock. Formerly it inhabited the 20-40 km wide grassland plain that extends along the Hobyo coastline of Somalia and was common there in the mid-1980s but hunting pressure has eliminated the species from coastal grasslands south of 2°30'N latitude (East 1999, Thurow 2013). In Somaliland (northern Somalia) it was formerly common and widespread on the plateau south of the Golis range (Drake-Brockman 1910) west to about 44°E (Funaioli and Simonetta 1966). Speke's Gazelle is still thinly distributed on open plains (bans) in Somaliland, west to about 44°35'E (Mallon and Jama 2015). The species was also reported in Puntland region of northern Somalia, between Garowe and Galkayo and in the Nogaal Valley by Lorenz (2010). Scattered groups of Speke's Gazelle were still rarely encountered in the northern Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia in the mid-1980s, but extreme hunting pressure was on the verge of eliminating the species from the Ogaden at that time and there is no recent information to indicate that they are still present there (Wilhelmi et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Speke's Gazelle was formerly one of the most widespread and numerous gazelles in Somalia (Funaioli and Simonetta 1966). Thurow (1996) recorded an average density of 3.9/km² in 1985-1988 in grasslands in good condition at Ceele Dhere in Central Somalia. East (1999) cited survey estimates of 2.0/km² in the eastern Nogaal valley and 0.2/km² in the central part of the valley and suggested the population may number in the tens of thousands but probably in decline, at least in areas with high densities of livestock. Numbers have been falling steadily for over 20 years due to uncontrolled hunting. The former strongholds in the coastal and Nogaal plains of Somalia have been under severe pressure during the past two decades of civil war and there is no evidence that it still occurs in Ethiopia; gazelle populations have been eliminated near roads in areas of civil conflict and these activities have expanded over the past few decades (Thurow 2013).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Most common on semi-arid grasslands, but also found in dwarf shrub (e.g., Indogofera intricata) and barren rangelands, at altitudes below 2,500 m. The presence of a biting tabanid fly (Haematopota sp.) during the mid-growing season prompts movements to the coast or large inland sand dunes where the breeze disperses the flies. Speke's Gazelles also move to these areas in the late dormant season because the sparse vegetation stays green longer on these sites, possibly because the roots access soil moisture stored deeper in the dunes (Thurow 2013). In Somaliland, Speke's Gazelle occurs on open grassland plains (bans), occasionally in open Acacia bussei bush, and stony hillsides with sparse Acacia etbaica and Buxus hildebrandtii bushes up to 1,650 m (Mallon and Jama 2015).
Generation Length (years):4.8

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It was traditionally not hunted by many local people who regarded it as "the devil's livestock" but has been eliminated along roads by soldiers in areas of conflict (Thurow 2013). An illegal wildlife trade and export to Gulf countries, including in antelopes, has developed in Somalia during the last few years (Amir 2006). In Somaliland at least, captive animals are kept on display in hotels etc. (Mallon and Jama 2015).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Extreme political instability and periodic civil and military conflicts over the past 20 years (and continuing) in Somalia, combined with a lack of any central government control, has resulted in a prevalence of weapons, over-exploitation and lack of protection for wildlife. There are no functioning protected areas within its range. An illegal wildlife trade, including in antelopes, has developed in Somalia during the last few years (Amir 2006). Drought and overgrazing due to increasing numbers of domestic livestock have negatively affected habitat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no functioning protected areas or active field conservation programmes within its range. Its conservation status is therefore likely to decline further unless effective protection and management or representative populations and their habitat can be developed and implemented. Small populations of Speke's Gazelle are maintained in captivity.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

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:No
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):0
  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
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ 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    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Amir, G. A. 2006. Wildlife trade in Somalia. Report to the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group – Northeast African subgroup. IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group - Northeast African Subgroup.

Drake-Brockman, R.E. 1910. The Mammals of Somaliland. Hurst and Blackett Ltd, London, UK.

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

Funaioli, U. and Simonetta, A.M. 1966. The mammalian fauna of the Somalia Republic: Status and conservation problems. Monitore Zoologico Italiano, Supplemento: 285-347.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

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

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Lorenz, K. 2010. Zur Situation von Wildtiere in Nord- und Zentralsomalia - Beobachtungen in Puntland. Unpublished., Hannover.

Mallon, D.P. and Jama, A.A. 2015. Current staus of antelopes in Somaliland. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group and Nature Somaliland.

Thurow, T.L. 1996. Ecology and behavior of Speke's Gazelle. Gnusletter 15(1): 13-19.

Thurow, T.L. 2013. Gazella spekei Speke's Gazelle. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Wilhelmi, F., Kaariye, X.Y., Hammer, S., Hammer, C. and Heckel, J.-O. 2006. On the status of wild ungulates in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Proceedings of the Sahara-Sahelo Interest Group Meeting 2006, Douz, Tunisia.. Douz, Tunisia.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Gazella spekei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T8975A50187314. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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