Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Endemic to the Ogaden region of SE Ethiopia and adjoining areas of N and C Somalia.

In Ethiopia, dibatag formerly occurred widely in the vast plains of the Ogaden region in the eastern lowlands. An extensive ground survey revealed that the dibatag is now rare or absent in the northern Ogaden but still occurs locally within a reasonably large area in the southern Ogaden, where it appears to be quite common in some localities (Wilhelmi 1997). In contrast to the northern Ogaden, which has a relatively high density of settlements and concentrations of armed pastoralists and their herds, the southern Ogaden has lower human densities and extensive areas where the natural flora and fauna appear to be largely intact.

It once occurred widely in central Somalia and on the Haud Plateau. By the early 1980s it had disappeared from large parts of its former range but still occurred locally in reasonable numbers in parts of the central coastal hinterland. Local people indicated that it was still present in this region in the late 1980s, but no more recent information is available. This area has been affected by 20 years of civil and military conflict as well as drought and overgrazing and its status is widely considered to have deteriorated, along with that of other antelope species such as Nanger soemmerringii and Oryx beisa that are easier to monitor (Wilhelmi et al. 2006).
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Geographic Range

Ammodorcas clarkei, the dibatag or Clarke’s gazelle, is found in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia and adjacent parts of northern and central Somalia. This species is found mostly in the arid southeastern lowlands in Ethiopia, and local concentrations occur in the coastal hinterland of central Somalia. (Yalden et al., 1984)

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Historic Range:
Somalia, Ethiopia

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Body length of A. clarkei ranges from 152-168 cm, with a tail length of 25 to 35 cm. Shoulder height varies from 80-88 cm and weight ranges from 22 to 35 kg. The the upper-parts of these gazelles are a grayish-fawn, and the rump and undersides are white. Markings on the face consist of a white stripe running from above the eye to the muzzle. There is a line of chestnut across the nose. The body is thin, and the legs and neck are quite long and thin. The rufous coat blends well with the surroundings making Dibatag difficult to see in thick cover. A noted characteristic is the long, furred black tail that is 25-35 cm long. The curving horns are only found on males and are from 10 to 25 cm long. Dibatags also have small hooves and a flat-shaped skull. (Carter and Mochi, 1971)

Range mass: 22 to 35 kg.

Range length: 152 to 168 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Dibatag inhabit semi-arid, dense to scattered bush, low- to medium-height thornbush savanna and plains with thicket/grassland mosaics. They prefer sandy to moderately gravelled, ferrous oxide rich red soils, characterized by numerous termite mounds (Wilhelmi, in press). Their altitudinal range is approximately 200 to 1,200 m (Yalden et al. 1986).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Preferred habitat of dibatags consists of sandy areas with scattered thorn scrub and grasses to arid, low-lying, scrub-covered plains. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The diet of A. clarkei consists of leaves and shoots from bushes and trees. The long necks of dibatags allows them to reach high branches. These animals may also stand on their hind legs with fore feet on the tree to browse. Dibatags may persist with little or no open water present. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Plant Foods: leaves

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

A. clarkei plays an important role as a prey species for charismatic megafauna.

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Predation

If a dibatag senses danger, it hides itself behind vegetation, standing still and using its long neck to look over the vegetation to assess the danger. These animals remain motionless until discovered. If being pursued, dibatags will flee with their heads arched back, and use an ambling gait instead of a gallop. Common predators of these animals include cheetahs, lions, hyenas, african hunting dogs, and humans (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Ammodorcas clarkei is prey of:
Homo sapiens
Panthera leo
Acinonyx jubatus
Lycaon pictus
Crocuta crocuta
Hyaena hyaena

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Development

No information is available on the development of this species.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of a dibatag ranges from 10 to12 years. (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
10 to 12 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: There is little or no data regarding the longevity of these animals, but they appear to live up to 12 years in the wild.
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Reproduction

Information on mating system is not available for this species. In other similarly sized bovid species (e.g. Antilope cervicapra, and Litocranius walleri) males establish and defend territories, at least during the breeding season, and are polygynous. It is likely A. clarkei maintains territories by marking them with urination, defecation, and preornital gland secretions. (Walther et al., 1983)

Females only give birth to one young during the year. Births occur in October and November. The gestation period is 204 days. (Ditrich, 1972). Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 18 months.

Breeding season: Births occur in October and November.

Range number of offspring: 1 (low) .

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 6.8 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 12 to 18 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 12 to 18 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous

Average gestation period: 204 days.

Average number of offspring: 1.

As in all mammals, the female provides nourishment for the young through lactation. Young are precocial. Other information on parental care in this species is not available.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Heckel, J.-O., Wilhelmi, F., Kaariye, X.Y. & Amir, O.G.

Reviewer/s
Mallon, D.P. & Chardonnet, P. (Antelope Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Dibatag has disappeared from substantial parts of its former range, e.g., northern Ogaden where human and livestock numbers are now high and it is under heavy pressure in Somalia. The overall decline in range and numbers due to hunting and habitat degradation is estimated to have exceeded 30% over three generations (21 years, 1985 to 2006). However, numbers are currently cautiously estimated to exceed the threshold of 2,500 mature individuals that would be necessary to qualify for a listing as EN under criterion C (Wilhelmi et al. 2006) but may be close to meeting this.

History
  • 2007
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Somalia, Ethiopia


Population detail:

Population location: Somalia, Ethiopia
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Ammodorcas clarkei , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Dibatags have been declared endangered in Somalia since 1996. Populations in Somalia are declining due to poaching, habitat degradation caused by drought, and competition with livestock for grazing land. The populations seem to be stable in Ethiopia where they are legally protected from hunting. (Nowak, 1983)

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Population

Population
Based on the results of Scott’s expedition in 1959, the population size was estimated at approximately 12,000 individuals with an average density of one animal per km² (Schomber 1966). After three decades of political unrest and armed conflicts a cautious estimate assumed a total population in the very low thousands (East 1999).

The results of recent field surveys in the Ogaden region are better than expected and the finding that this species still occurs in a large area is encouraging. Estimates based on observations and counts suggest a population of about 1,500 in the Ogaden (Wilhelmi et al. 2006). The total surviving population of the Dibatag is unknown, but is clearly not large. Assuming a total remaining range of 10,000 km² and an average population density of 0.1 to 0.3 per km² would suggest a total population in the low thousands. Since Dibatag are very secretive, it is likely that more accurate and even higher population estimates will be found, once thorough field work is possible.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Drought and habitat degradation due to overgrazing affect the whole range. In Somalia, extreme political instability and periodic civil and military conflicts over the past 20 years (and continuing), and lack of any central government control have resulted in a prevalence of weapons, over-exploitation of wildlife, and lack of protection for wildlife. Uncontrolled exploitation of trees and scrub for charcoal, exported in huge quantities to the Gulf states is likely to be negatively affecting the habitat.

Hunting is also a factor in Ethiopia, but the dibatag’s alertness and the difficulty in hunting it in dense bush have enabled it to survive locally in viable numbers. Local people consider that it is very shy and more alert than any other antelope species, and that it is almost impossible to hunt dibatag intentionally, even though its meat is preferred because of its excellent taste.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no protected areas within its range. Establishment of a captive- breeding population has been proposed. There is urgency in initiating conservation action in those parts of its range where this is feasible, e.g., the southern Ogaden. Negative factors continue to impact on the species and its status is likely to deteriorate unless these can be mitigated.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species competes with livestock for grazing. (Nowak, 1983)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Dibatags are hunted by local peoples, and thereby provide food and hides . (Diller and Haltenorth, 1980)

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

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Wikipedia

Dibatag

The dibatag (Ammodorcas clarkei), or Clarke's gazelle, is an antelope found in the sandy grasslands of Ethiopia and Somalia. Not a true gazelle, it is similarly marked, with a long, furry, black tail which is raised in flight. This gave rise to its name, which means "erect tail" in Somali.

The dibatag is listed by the IUCN as "vulnerable" to extinction due to hunting and human disturbance (including war). Only a few thousand individuals are left, with no captive population.

Male dibatags weigh between 28 and 35 kg (62 and 77 lb), and females range from 22 to 29 kg (49 to 64 lb).

References

  1. ^ Heckel, J.-O., Wilhelmi, F., Kaariye, X.Y. & Amir, O.G. (2008). Ammodorcas clarkei. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 14 February 2009.
  2. ^ Thomas, O (1891) Proc. Zool Soc. Lond. pages
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