Gazella spekei


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Gazella spekei
Species Authority: Blyth, 1863
Common Name(s):
English Speke's Gazelle

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Heckel, J.-O., Amir, O.G., Kaariye, X.Y. & Wilhelmi, F.
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. & Chardonnet, P. (Antelope Red List Authority)
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 estimated to have reached 50% over a period of three generations (18 years, 1988 to 2006), due to a decline in range and/or habitat quality and actual or potential levels of exploitation.
2007 Endangered
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Insufficiently Known (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Endemic to the Horn of Africa. Inhabits the 20 to 40 km wide grassland plain that extends along the Indian Ocean coastline of Somalia (hunting pressure has eliminated Speke's Gazelle from coastal grasslands south of 2°30'N latitude). Northern limit delimited by steep hills of the Gulis Range. 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. Attempts to evaluate the possible occurrence in the north-eastern Ogaden (Ethiopia) are planned, but the current security situation makes efforts to get there difficult. Interviews with local people have revealed that it is infrequent or absent from this region.

Speke's Gazelle were formerly widespread in the open barren grasslands of north-central and north-eastern Somalia and the central coastal region. It 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. It was common on the central coastal plain in the mid-1980s (Thurow, in press).
Possibly extinct:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: East (1999) estimated that the population may number in the tens of thousands. It was traditionally not hunted by many local people who regarded it as "the devil's livestock" but had been eliminated along roads by soldiers in areas of conflict (Thurow in press). However, 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. A recent survey to the southern Nogaal region in Somaliland revealed that the species still exists in this area, but sightings are rather scarce.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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. They 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, in press).
Systems: Terrestrial

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 of wildlife, 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. Populations of Speke's Gazelle are maintained in captivity.

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.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

East, R. 1999. African Antelope Database 1999. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 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. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

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

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

Thurow, T. L. In press. Gazella spekei. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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: Heckel, J.-O., Amir, O.G., Kaariye, X.Y. & Wilhelmi, F. 2008. Gazella spekei. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 27 March 2015.
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