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Nature Life: Gazelle And Nature

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Gazelle is a herbivorous animal that is one of many antelope species in the genus Gazella. Gazelles are known as swift animals. Some can run at bursts as high as 100 km/h (60 mph) or run at a sustained speed of 50 km/h (30 mph).

Gazelles are found mostly in the deserts, grasslands, and savannas of Africa, but they are also found in southwest and central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

They tend to live in herds, and eat fine, easily digestible plants and leaves. They graze during the night and early morning when plants retain the greatest moisture.

Currently, the genus Gazella is widely considered to contain about 10 species and most surviving gazelle species are considered threatened to varying degrees.

Some species of gazelle are prey to predators such as cheetahs, lions, African wild dogs, crocodiles, hyenas, and leopards. To escape from their, predators, gazelles depend on their speed.

Gazelles may ‘Pronk’ to impress their predators and can shrink their hearts and livers. Gazelles also honk when they are nervous. The gazelle will suck air in through his or her nose until it has a crinkled or deflated look. When they eventually release the air the vocalisation sounds like honk. The sound and length varies according to the specie.

Igbos call it “mgbada”, Yorubas call it “eriali”, while Hausas call it “tururuwa”.

Both males and females gazelle have horns. Young gazelles males may form ‘bachelor herds’. Female gazelles give birth to one or two offspring after a six-month pregnancy and hide them in the plains grasses.

A 2001 report by the Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World, some gazelles can go without water through out their life time.

Gazelle have been estimated to live up to 14 years in the wild.

Gazelles play a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems. By eating a wide range of vegetation, they help disperse seeds through their droppings, thus enabling more plants to grow and helping to sustain other herbivores that share their habitats.

The gazelle, like the antelope to which it is related, is the totem of many African families. Some examples include the Joof family of the Senegambia region, the Bagananoa of Botswana in Southern Africa (said to be descended from the BaHurutshe), and the Eraraka (or Erarak) clan of Uganda.



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